The Stages Of Development: Preteens & Teens
Ages Twelve & Thirteen
This is often a time in children's lives when they
are going through many physical changes. They may gain weight, grow taller, feel
clumsy and awkward. Because their bodies are going through a lot of changes, it
can be a difficult time for children. Answer any questions your child may have.
Do not feel embarrassed if they ask something that you're not sure how to
answer. Or, maybe you don't know the answer. If you are uncomfortable with
answering questions, talk with your pediatrician (or let your child talk with
him). Children can often be very sensitive about how they look at this stage of
their life. Be a supportive parent.
Ages Fourteen & Fifteen
This is the age when your child may have growth
spurts which can cause physical discomfort such as headaches and joint pain. If
your child complains too much of discomfort consult with your pediatrician.
Sometimes, there may be other reasons for the discomfort. This is also the time
when their hormones will kick in. Try and make your children comfortable with
what is happening to them. They may not always want to discuss the strange
feelings and sensations they are having, mostly because they don't understand
them. Talking with your children about their changing bodies is the best way to
put them at ease. There are some great books available on the teenage body.
These books will cover all the physical changes and the emotional changes your
child is experiencing. I would suggest you read the books first and decide which
ones will best answer the questions your child may have.
Ages Sixteen & Seventeen
By the time your children reach this stage in
their lives, they will begin thinking about what they want to do when they leave
high school. They might want to get a car (to establish more independence)
or even a job. Some will wonder about college. This is often a difficult time
for teenagers because they are not sure that they want to become adults. Many
teenagers will suddenly fear leaving home and becoming independent. Some will
think themselves invincible. This is a time of jumbled feelings. Try to keep
your teenagers on the right track. Keep an open line of communication with them.
This can be a time when your teenager experiences a fun and positive side of
growing up or a negative and unsafe time. Too many young people get involved
with reckless behavior at this time in their lives. Be aware of what your child
is up to, who their friends are, and where they spend their spare time.
This is not the magical time when your child
suddenly becomes an adult. Many children have not yet reached adulthood
emotionally by 18. They are still struggling with who they are and their purpose
in life. Your children will experience social strains at this point such as
graduating from high school, leaving the safety of their home to explore
college, or living on their own. They may also find that their high school
friends will go off in different directions, leaving them behind. Without those
friendships, they may feel temporarily lost. Again, this is all part of growing
up. Try to be as supportive as you can. Realize that your child needs to go
through this stage to mature into an adult. Guide your children when possible.
Do not be too critical of what they choose to do with their lives.
see Birth to Age Five>
see Six to Eleven>
by Wendy Greif
Wendy Greif is a mother and graduate of USF in
Special Education. She has taught children with various disabilities in both
South Carolina and Florida. Mrs. Greif operates an informational website for
parents and caregivers of children and/or adults with special needs (http://www.specialneedschildrenandadults.com).
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