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Adolescence

adolescent; adolescence; adult; puberty; teen; teenager; family; hormones;

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Adolescence – what is it?

Adolescence is the time when you begin changing from a kid to an adult. This doesn't happen overnight – in fact it happens over several years.

It starts with puberty when hormone levels rise and start the body changes needed to turn you into a young man or woman, and goes on for many years until you are ready to live an independent adult life.

The hormones that change your body can affect the way you think about many things, including the way you think about, and interact with, your parents and family.

What parents say

Parents have to cope with the changes you are making too.

It can be very difficult for parents to accept that their 'little' son or daughter is growing up, is starting to form opinions, is wanting to have some independence, and finds hanging out with friends a whole lot more interesting than hanging round with parents!

Parents can sometimes be heard having a 'whinge' to their friends about teenagers in general, and maybe even about you in particular!

"She is sullen and moody."
"He is absolutely lazy and selfish."
"I can't trust her to be truthful about where she is going."
"We have always been so close but now it's as if I'm some stranger."
"He spends most of his time in bed."
"She says I'm embarrassing!"

What kids say

You're the person who is growing up and changing into an adult, but you can't always see what you are looking like to others, especially to your parents.

Your body and mind are demanding more rest, you get tired or bored more quickly, you feel restless, you want to have fun and socialise, and you don't want to do 'boring' stuff when there is a whole exciting world opening up to the young adult that you are becoming.

"They're always on my case."
"I can't do anything right."
"What would my parents know about the way I feel?"

How to survive adolescence

There are a few skills you may need if you are going to survive adolescence without any major traumas!

1. Organisation

From year 7 to the end of high school, you will be very busy trying to juggle your school life, home life, social life and possibly your part-time working life. It is important that you give yourself time to do all of this stuff and get some sort of balance in your life.

  • Try setting up a timetable based on what you have to do and what you would like to do.
  • Don't forget to build in some time for exercise and fun!

If you are going to survive and even enjoy your adolescent years, then the 'have to do' bit must be more important. Otherwise you will find yourself becoming very stressed by being late, not being ready, not having finished work on time, getting into trouble everywhere and feeling pretty bad about yourself.

2. Communication

Communication gets more important the older you are.

  • Keep talking to your parents, even though there may be times when you think that they just don't understand. They have your best interests at heart, and if they're 'nagging' you about getting things done, it's because they love you and want you to do well and be happy.
  • If you are honest about where you are going and keep to the rules that they set, it makes your parents feel that they can trust you – and you will be able to negotiate a 'better deal' with them as time goes on and they feel that you are maturing in attitude.
  • Talk to your teachers if you do not understand your schoolwork, or have too much work. They are human beings too and can help you set goals, negotiate timelines and explain what you do not understand. The day before work is due is not the best time to do this!!
  • Talk to your friends. You will find that many of them will be finding life tough at times. Even talking about your worries helps you to realise that you are not on your own, and gives you the will to carry on trying.
  • Talk to your coach or your boss at work. Be honest in saying what your problems are and how you feel. If you can't make training or do your shift, then you should let them know in enough time for them to make other arrangements. They may not be too thrilled, but they will respect the fact that you have let them know.

3. Respect

Have respect for the people in your life, and especially for yourself.

  • Don't do things that may get you or your friends into trouble.
  • Have respect for the adults in your life, including your parents, teachers and other people in authority.
  • Remember that the opposite of having rules is anarchy, where the strongest, bullying and threatening people are in charge – in that situation who will help you when you need help?

Caring for yourself

During adolescence, your body is growing and changing from that of a child to an adult – that requires a tremendous amount of work from your body.

  • You need to eat well to fuel your body.
  • You need to exercise to build strong muscle and bones and help your body relax.
  • You need to keep yourself clean (how embarrassing would it be for mum or dad to come into the bathroom with you?)
  • You need to make good choices. It isn't cool to be in trouble at school or with the Police, trying out drugs, or staying away from school.
  • You need to work at being a positive person. Learning about the world can be depressing at times – just watch or listen to the news!

Look around you and see the good things that exist, like people caring about each other, the beauty of the natural world and the way that you get better at whatever you are practising.

Get to know yourself

Adolescence is a time when your body is going through lots of changes, and so is your mind.

Your body insists on you having more resting time, so use it to find out about yourself.

  • What are you good at?
  • What would you like to learn?
  • What exercise would you like to do?
  • What work would you like to do when you leave school?
  • What ambitions do you have for your life?
  • How can you make the most of your looks?
  • How can you improve your skills?
  • How can you make more friends?
  • What are your beliefs?

And think about any more of the thousands of questions that come up when you have the time.

What to look out for

  • Responsibility - as an adult you have to be responsible for yourself. Use adolescence as a time of training by accepting more responsibility for your work, your actions, your body and your wellbeing.
  • Peer group pressure is something that does exist. It is not just something to be used as an excuse when someone gets into trouble! Peer pressure can be a very positive influence on your life, so hang out with positive people and be a positive person yourself.
  • Friends are very important at this time of your life. Choose them carefully. Understand that most people may know lots of others, but true friends, best friends are few and far between. A true friend is someone who cares about you, keeps your confidences and makes time for you to do things together. Internet friends may not be who they say they are - be careful what you tell them.
  • Parents - treat them with care. While you are going through lots of changes, so are they. They are not only getting older, but they are having to come to terms with their child (you) changing, growing, and becoming more independent of them. It's hard for them to accept that their little boy or girl is turning into a young person who does not need them in the same way that a small child does. Of course, they will still be around for hugs, etc. when you need them – they just need to learn that it's when YOU need them! And it's never too early to start noticing when they need a hug from you!

Resources

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The information on this site should not be used as an alternative to professional care. If you have a particular problem, see a doctor, or ring the Youth Healthline on 1300 13 17 19 (local call cost from anywhere in South Australia).
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