Everyone knows adolescence is a time of constant changing, but do you ever find yourself wondering if your teen's behavior is normal?
IS THIS NORMAL?
IS THIS NORMAL?
- Dyed hair (odd colors)
- Strange music
- Unusual piercings
- New friends
While these changes may seem strange to you, these are typical for many teenagers.
According to The American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry (AACAP),
TYPICAL TEEN BEHAVIOR INCLUDES:
- Changing their appearance - Keeping up with trends is very important to your teen. These changes are a normal part of being a teenager. For girls, appearance is very important, but BEWARE of your teen's weight and eating habits to make sure she isn't becoming obsessed with being thin. (Boys can also suffer from eating disorders.)
- Increased arguments - It is normal for your teen to argue with you more, as he/she tries to become more independent. But these arguments aren't constant nor should they become violent. It is normal for your teen to claim you do not love him/her anymore, that you are unfair, that his/her friends get to do "it", and it's not unusual for for your teen to say he/she hates you, but BEWARE, as increasing defiance, frequency in arguments, and violence can be signs of a troubled teen.
- Withdrawal from family - It is normal for teens to focus more on their friends. It may seem your teen is never home, doesn't want to talk to you, and doesn't want to be seen in public with you (ouch!). Don't take it personally. Again, they are looking for independence and "finding themselves". But let your teen know that he/she is still expected at certain family functions. My 15-year-old daughter will only go to the movies with me during the day. I can forget going to the movies with her on a Friday or Saturday night when she might be seen out with her mother. But I don't let it bother me. (Remember when you were a teenager?)
- Emotional ups and downs - If you have a teenager, you know all about the moodiness and mood swings. This is typical behavior, but BEWARE of anxiety, sadness that lingers, or if your teen doesn't go out with friends anymore, as these can be signs of depression.
- Experimenting with cigarettes, alcohol, and drugs - It doesn't matter how much we talk about the dangers of these substances, most teens will experiment. Most teens will try them once or twice and then leave them alone, but BEWARE of a drop in school performance, dramatic behavioral changes, or if valuables start missing from around the house, because this could indicate that your teen has a substance abuse problem.
- Teenagers also become aware of their sexual development. It is important to discuss the risks of having sex at such a young age, including unwanted pregnancy, STDs, and the hurt feeling that can come from breaking up soon after having sex. Most parents dread the "sex" talk, but take it from someone who has had "the talk" twice, it can be done. It's easier if you don't schedule "the talk". Look for opportunities to have short talks with your teen about sex, pregnancy, and STDs - when your're riding in the car, commercials on TV, a sex scene in a movie you're both watching (especially if it's teens having sex - I found this the easiest way to bring up sex. Just ask your teen what he/she thinks about teens have sex and take your ques from them). If you look for them, the opportunities will be there, and believe me, it is much easier to talk to your teen if you "casually" mention sex. They will be more likely to open up to you and tell you what they think or ask questions.
HOW TO DEAL WITH TYPICAL TEENAGE BEHAVIOR:
- Listen to your teen. You aren't expected to always have the answer to their problems. They just need you to listen.
- Stick to your rules and make sure your teen understands your expectations and the consequences of breaking the rules.
- Teach your teen your values to show your teen what is important to you.
- Try to avoid confrontation. Yelling and screaming does not work with teenagers. Try to work through your disagreements calmly.
- Answer your teen's questions about the physical changes he/she will experience. Don't ignore your teen's sexuality or he/she may seek out peers to discuss these issues. Keep the lines of communication open, so your teen knows he/she can come to you for advice. (See my post on talking to your teen.)
- Choose your battles. If you constantly nit-pick about things that aren't important, your teen will shut you out. Hanging with friends who do drugs and are constantly in trouble is a big deal; your teen dyeing his/her hair pink isn't. (It will grow out.)
**Picture by: http://www.hairstylescuts2011.com/