With Your Teen: Tips for Parents
The parents of children in grades 6 through
8 are often apprehensive about the changes their children are, or
will be, going through. This brochure is intended to normalize some
of the behavior parents can expect from children entering puberty.
While most clinicians are quite comfortable discussing the physical
changes of puberty, this brochure discusses the social and emotional
changes that are also occurring (most importantly, the growing independence
of teenagers and the need for increased responsibility on their part).
Through the American media, parents are saturated with "typical" teenager
problems (drug abuse, pregnancy, and violence). Many parents respond
by restricting their children's independence in an effort to keep
them safe. While this may be effective temporarily, it can set up
later conflicts between parents and child. The early establishment
of reasonable limits around children's behavior and appropriate parental
monitoring reduces these later conflicts. Since families vary widely
in their attitudes toward teenage independence and in their ability
to access community supports for their teenagers, this topic can be
the start of a dialogue between the clinician and the family about
appropriate ways to encourage the safe, increased independence of
The 3 major themes of the brochure are as follows:
How to Use This Tool
- Typical behaviors and feelings that teenagers go through.
Communication. The most common mistake that parents can
make with their children is telling them that they understand
without having heard the whole story. The brochure provides
guidance for active listening skills that are especially important
as the child enters adolescence.
- Importance of parental monitoring and limit setting. The brochure
offers direction to parents about monitoring their children's
behavior. Encouraging appropriate independence is not the
same as relaxing parental monitoring. Because most risk-taking
behavior among young teenagers occurs between the time
when school is out and dinner, parents need to continue
observing their children's whereabouts, activities, and friendships.
The brochure includes information about warning signs parents
can identify in their children.
- It is best used as an adjunct to a discussion about the physical
changes of puberty. Some clinicians begin by asking the child
if they have learned about puberty in school and assessing the
child's current level of knowledge. At this point, clinicians
can then ask, "I'm sure there are many other changes going
on that you can't see with your eyes, aren't there?"
- Clinicians also can speak directly with the parents to elicit their
concerns about their child's puberty. The brochure offers a way
to talk with parents about these other adolescent issues. Many
parents can remember their own early adolescence and the
issues they had with their parents. It can be helpful to ask parents
to recall how they behaved and coped at this age.
- Use this brochure, along with other AAP materials, when
addressing school groups and Parent-Teacher Associations
(PTAs)/Parent-Teacher Organizations (PTOs) about the
changes during puberty.
- Although written for parents, many teenagers may also be
interested in reading the information that is provided. It is
worthwhile to encourage this.
Kids Samples Home
TIPP® and Connected Kids on CD-ROM