With more emotions and experiences than they've ever faced before, teens are truly learning, and forming, who they are.

And while as a parent you might be able to draw on your experiences growing up, it's always good to have a refresher on what to expect when raising a teen.

Emotional changes

A teen's feelings can be intense and their moods can be unpredictable.

These ups and downs are a combination of teen hormones and their brain still learning how to control and express how they feel.

They're going to be better at reading and understanding other people's emotions, but they're still not quite there yet, so they might miss certain emotional cues from others, too.

There'll be an element of self-consciousness as their self-esteem is forming. They may start implying they are self-conscious about their body or how they look, and often in comparison to others such as their peers.

Decision-making will still be a learning curve for teens. In fact, you'll often observe that they can act without thinking about repercussions or consequences. They will need to make some mistakes in order to learn from them, so be aware of that as a parent.

Social changes

As mentioned, your child is still figuring out who they are. They're going to be listening to different styles of music and hanging out with different groups of friends, just to mention a couple of things! This is all influenced by the teen's family, friends, media and culture.

You'll notice your teen wanting more independence, especially regarding where they go, how they get there and who with. You can allow them some independence, but be sure to set achievable and fair boundaries as well. Let them know that if they're broken, there will be consequences. Once they earn your trust, you can start to allow them more independence.

In saying this, your teen will be seeking out new experiences constantly throughout these formative years, and while it's important to 'let them go' to an extent to help them find out who they are, keep in mind that teen brains are still under development and they make not be thinking rationally when it comes to some experiences.

Try to encourage them to run anything new they want to try by you and if they don't feel comfortable doing so, get them to weigh up the pros and cons on their own. They will make mistakes, they're only human and they will grow from them.

During teen years, your child is going to question their values and beliefs. Your words and actions will shape their sense of right and wrong, so be conscious of how you act towards your teen and also to others around your teen.

Sexual identity

Your teen will start to go on dates and have romantic relationships.

It's important you talk to them about what makes a healthy relationship and consent before they start any relationships.

If you can have these conversations with your child, it's more likely they will feel comfortable sharing feelings with you as they begin to be romantically interested in others.

Speak to your teen about safe, consensual sex, and let them ask any questions without judgement.

You can read more on consent here.

Set rules around romantic and/or sexual relationships. For example, how much time your child spends with their romantic/sexual partner over doing their homework, or whether it's OK for their girlfriend or boyfriend to spend time in their room and sleep over.

Mental health

As mentioned, teenage years are a time of rapid growth and change - physically, emotionally, socially and, of course, mentally.

Change can have an impact on your teen, not to mention the new pressures and stresses such as school, study, exams, friendships (including instances of bullying), relationships and work.

This can cause your teen to worry and may impact their mental health if not managed.

Signs your child could be struggling with anxiety can include:

  • Worries that won’t go away and begin to interfere with their day-to-day

  • They're on-edge and struggle to relax or enjoy activities they once enjoyed.

  • They start avoiding people or social situations.

  • Any physical symptoms like sweating, faster heartbeat, headaches, stomach cramps, nausea, rapid breathing or diarrhoea.

Signs your child could be struggling with depression can include:

  • They give up easily and often

  • Struggling to have consistent, restful sleep

  • Significant changes in their behaviour - getting violent, isolating themselves, etc.

It is normal for young people to go through highs and lows, but if they're feeling the above or even just more sad or angry than usual (usually for more than two weeks consecutively) then you need to seek professional help.

You can start by having them talk to their GP, who can refer them to the right health professional.

As for what you can do as a parent - show your child you understand how they feel, praise them for sharing their feelings (if they are), give them love and affection and avoid any negative language or phrases, like telling them they worry too much.

Be sure to encourage your child to also check in on their friends' mental health too if they notice any changes.


If you have any questions or need extra support, we're here to help you anytime in any language.

Article originally published by: Raising Children Network

Image credits: Priscilla Du Preez and Edward Cisneros on Unsplash

All content is created and published for informational purposes only. It is not intended to be a substitute for professional advice.

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