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The Teen Years

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Passages in a Teen's Life

Adolescents spend more time in school than in any other single setting. School is the center of their social life as well. School experiences set the tone for their daily lives. As the child advances in school, the move from the intermediate to upper grades and then high school, can be difficult. In elementary school, most students identify with one teacher who knows them personally. In the upper grades, there is a different teacher for each subject.

Roles can be confusing to youth as they become teens. In some schools in sixth grade he’s a "big kid," seventh grade he’s a "little kid," and in ninth grade a "full-fledged teenager."

Many students are temporarily disoriented during the transition from elementary to middle school. Their self-esteem falters and their grades may drop slightly. You may find their interest and participation in school activities declining. Teens may feel anonymous, alienated, and vulnerable.

The adjustments will be harder if the teen is experiencing other major changes. This could include puberty, a move, separation, or divorce.

During one’s teen years many changes occur in their social life. Teens begin to change from conformity to individuality. Early in ones teen years, they may still be known as a brain or a jock. By the mid-teen years, the teen is more a free agent. They are at home with different groups and different kinds of friends. Most teens deny that they belong to a crowd.

In middle adolescence there is a decline in clannishness mirroring the way teens think about themselves and others. The young adolescent was the conformist. Friends were the authority on what to do, say, think, and wear. The teen trades family dependence to crowd dependence. At this age, the teen wants to be seen as an individual. The phrase "everyone is doing it" changes to "I want to go,"or "it’s my life".

The teens see brothers and sisters, peers and parents as opposing forces. In the mid teens they recognize that there are differing views and that one's view can be colored by self interests.

Giving in to peer pressure declines in high school years. Teens continue to be influenced by their friends, but they also need information and guidance from the experts. For styles and taste, their peers are the experts. For other things, parents are the experts.

Teens do not come to their parents for help with their homework. They think it takes too long to give parents the background they need to solve the problem. Classmates are seen as knowing where the teen is coming from. Teens turn to their parents for help with big things like ethics, school, and life decisions. Although teens recognize their classmates’ knowledge of teen culture, they know that adults know more about life after high school.

There are many passages that a teen travels to become a caring, dependable, ethical member of society. Parents need to provide time to talk with and listen to their teens. They need to help them cope with the many challenges confronting them each day.

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