Adolescents – 13-19 years
During adolescence there are a number of cognitive, emotional, physical and attitudinal changes that provide the basis for personality development. Teenagers are in an important transition stage where they naturally try to break free from their parents and instead seek out new ways of doing things for themselves. For the first time, teenagers will start to view their friends and peers groups as more important and influential than their parents – often leading to conflict.
However difficult, teenagers need to be given the time and space to make decisions for themselves and learn from their errors. Although we may worry about their choice in friends, these self-built relationships can actually help them develop skills such as empathy, sharing and leadership, as well as having a positive impact on them in terms of academic motivation and aspirations. Maintaining an open dialogue is important at this age and it is crucial your child feels able to talk to you about their new experiences and concerns.
Due to all these changes it is easy to forget that teenagers still need time to play and have fun! Teenagers may not call it play, but the time that they spend with their friends or on their own, without being told what to do, is their version of play. Teenage play is predominantly social and they have the freedom to decide for themselves or as a group how to have fun. Analysis of teenage behaviour during play shows that their behaviour mimics and practices being an adult, which is a positive for their development. However, it is still important as a parent to hold a discussion with your child to set clear boundaries e.g. controls on the internet and phones, so that they can grow and explore their identity but still within a safe environment.