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Living through adolescence

adolescence; adolescent; teenager; parents; changes; young; people;;

What is adolescence?

Living Through Adolescence 1Adolescence begins when you start to change from a child into an adult. Our topic on “Adolescence - what’s it about?” tells you more about this.

This topic is about the changes which happen in your mind as you are coping with the changes to your body.

You are not the only person being affected by these changes!




What young people say

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

Your body and mind are demanding more rest, so 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 teenager 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?"

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, has stronger opinions, is wanting to have more 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 moody."
  • "He is lazy and selfish."
  • "I sometimes 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 his bedroom."
  • "She says I'm embarrassing! And that I am not allowed to drop her off in front of the school or talk with her friends"

During adolescence

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

Caring for yourself

  • You need to eat well to fuel your body. 
  • You need to exercise to build strong muscles and bones and help your body relax. 
  • You need to keep yourself clean 
  • 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 – climate changes, wars, refugees and accidents!

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

Living Through Adolescence 3Adolescence 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 the rest time to think 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. These are also things that you might like to talk about with friends.

What to look out for

  • Responsibility - as an adult you will have to be responsible for yourself. Use this time as a time of trying things out by accepting more responsibility for your work, your actions, your body and your wellbeing. 
  • Peer group pressure is strong. But it is not 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. 
  • Living Through Adolescence 2
  • 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!}


What can help?


Communication gets more important.

  • 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. 

    Talking honestly about where you are going and keeping to the rules that they set, 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 have been students themselves and they understand the stresses that schoolwork causes. They can help you set goals, negotiate timelines and explain what you do not understand. But, 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. Talking about your worries helps you to realise that you are not on your own, and can give you strength 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.


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 [say an-ark-ee], where the strongest, bullying and threatening people are in charge – in that situation who will help you when you need help?


Living Through Adolescence 4Nobody likes being in trouble for being late, forgetting to do jobs, missing special events, not handing in work etc.

  • It’s helpful to set up your own way of organising your life so that you can fit in all that you have to do and even the things you want to do!
  • Diaries, calendars, your phone or laptop can all be useful - if you put the info in of course!


Dr Kim says

Adolescence is something that we all have to grow through for ourselves and then go through again if we are lucky enough to have our own children. It isn’t easy!

  • It helps to be able to talk respectfully to others in the family.
  • It helps if you have good friends to talk with. 
  • It helps if you can talk with trusted adults eg. school counsellors, if you are worried about yourself or friends.
doctor kym 

    If you want someone else to talk with

These organisations can be contacted at any time online or by phone.

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We've provided this information to help you to understand important things about staying healthy and happy. However, if you feel sick or unhappy, it is important to tell your mum or dad, a teacher or another grown-up.


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