Monday, July 25, 2011


Everyone knows adolescence is a time of constant changing, but do you ever find yourself wondering if your teen's behavior is 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),

  • 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.
  • 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.)
Of course, all teenagers are different, and your teen will experience a wide range of new feelings and issues.  And if you're lucky, you're teen won't dye his/her hair pink (Hollie dyed her hair blue!)

**Picture by:


Small Kucing said...

how do you deal with a teen who is your neighbour and is making your life like hell while his parents just doesn't care?


Unknown said...

My straight A teen daughter insisted she wanted to dye her hair green. I insisted NO! Finally we settled and she got a few green extensions last summer. I was happy no dye, she got her green , they were very inexpensive and only last a few weeks. A win for the MOM!

Liz said...

I am so glad I found you!

An Apel a Day said...

This is normal. I teach art students age! We see a lot of dyed hair, change in friends, piercing and tattoos.

Visiting from VoiceBoks.

Unknown said...

Things like these are but normal for teenager. Adolescence... we all go through it and we each deal with it differently. What important is we become better persons from our experiences. As moms, let us not forsake them but let us be there to support them.


Unknown said...

I really enjoy reading your posts, and I think you give excellent advice.

Laura said...

I did all those things as a teen, so I of course would say it's normal. I just grew out of it.
hi! I am a new follower! My name is Laura, and I found you on Voice Boks Friend following friends. I love your blog!

Born To Be Styled
Eat It Up.

Carolin Newmeyer said...

Indeed, we all have gone through this phase wherein we seek for thrill in every aspect of our being. In this stage wherein the demand for independence and hunger for constant change is more heightened than ever, listening to teens is the best way to deal with these aspects. After all, all they want is acceptance and to somehow be the person who they ought to be.

Unknown said...

I have a couple of teens and am experiencing several of these typical symptoms but all in all parenting teens is much easier than I'd feared. Thankful for God's help every step of the way!

Audra Michelle said...

I love how you included warnings of problems. I was surprised by a high school student of mine who was threatening suicide. Not many typical symptoms of depression. Thankfully, she got help! Thank you for your post.

Dominique@Dominique's Desk said...

I feel that the environment that the teen is in has a lot to do with the amount of rebellation that he /she will go through. I still don't condone coloured hair and hope my kids won't have any,

Crazed in the Kitchen said...

These are great things to know and keep in mind, even for parents of younger children. Knowing what to expect is half the battle, I think! Thanks for some great information!

Unknown said...

Sometimes, I can't even believe I made it through 4 girls! But, I did follow your steps there pretty much, so they work!

Unknown said...

What a great post... not only did it take me back to my own adolescence, but that of my sons.. I am most certainly not looking forward to that of my 5 y/o when she gets there... but I will be {somewhat} prepared.

Unknown said...

I agree that it would be best to listen to your teens, and when I say listen, to really listen and look between the lines. They are in a position where they are no longer kids, but not yet really adults, to try to find who they are, and reinvent themselves. Accept who they are but guide them to the good person they’re destined to be. :)

Georgine Roe

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