Teenagers 13-18 years

In your teens you go from being a child to becoming an adult. Now children understand more, and can, among other things, discuss and argue more. They seek their identity and try to find out who they are and how they want to be. You as a parent need to be there and provide support.

Here you as an adult can read about the development in the teens.

The differences in development between different teenagers of the same age can be very large, but some characteristics are common and typical for most. These are described here.

For younger children you can also read about the child’s development 10-12 years.

You are important to how your child develops

You are still important to your child. Development takes place with you. This means, among other things, that you need to be active and interested in the world in which the teenager lives.

You need to provide security and emotional closeness, even though the relationship changes as your teen becomes more independent. You need more to be there as a support when they themselves need it.

The teen needs to increase the distance to you as a parent to develop, and often approaches you again towards the end of your teens.

The body, diet and sleep

Getting older and developing can be perceived as both good and bad. For example, it can be fun to grow older, to feel great and to make your own decisions. It can also be a pain to try to find your own identity and make your body different.

The body changes

In the teens, everyone in puberty and the body will change a lot. Then the interest in sex and the need for sleep also increases. The changes can feel exciting, but it can also be difficult to recognize in their body, such as getting menstruation or nighttime ejaculation.

The teenager becomes more aware of what is going on in the body and most people wonder a lot about what is normal and not. Tell your child that they can read at UMO.se. They can also talk to student health or a youth clinic, they are used to answering these kinds of questions.

Sleep in teens

At puberty, there will be a change of body and a change in children’s lives that will make them need more sleep and want to sleep longer. Among other things, it is about hormones and changing habits, for example that the teenager is with friends more or plays computer games or is on social media more.

On weekdays, you need to find ways that will give your child enough sleep to cope with school and leisure activities. On the weekends it is good if they can sleep longer in the mornings. For it to work, it is important that they are not up too late at night. It can cause major sleep problems.

Here you can read more about teenagers and sleep, and what you can do if your child has sleep problems.

Diet in the teens

It is still important that children eat good food and have good eating habits. For example, children in their teens need breakfast to cope. This makes it easier to concentrate and work in school.

Many teenagers exercise a lot and they often need a little extra nutrition to cope.

You are responsible for what is and is served at home. Talk to your child about food and what is needed to feel good.

Here you can on the American Food Agency’s website about good food for children in their teens. There is also information on vegetarian and vegan diets.

At UMO.se there is information for young people about what good food is.

Sometimes the relationship with food can be difficult, for example, the teenager fails to eat or exercise very much so as not to gain weight. Here you can read more about eating disorders.

That’s what the teenager thinks

It is not just a physical change. Even the mental and how the teenager thinks, does and feels changes.

The thinking changes through the teens

In the early teens, thinking is more like the younger child’s, that is, very concrete and with a focus on the here and now. The teen can be very categorical, either right or wrong.

Thinking is evolving a lot and teenagers can think and reason a lot. It will be easier to analyze. Many feel invulnerable and like they can see through the world. But it is also common to feel vulnerable, insecure and self-critical.

Gradually, they become easier to imagine how complex life is, that each person has their own responsibility and that it is not always obvious what is right or wrong. At the end of the teens, thinking becomes more nuanced and the teen can compare different alternatives with one another, understand the consequences and analyze relationships.

Trouble with discussions and arguments

In fractions, it is common to have long motivations and discussions. Many teenagers want to argue and explain how they look at things.

Reflections on life in large and small

Many people think about life, about the future, and what place they themselves have in existence. It is common to think about friends, school, body, love, sex, fractions and the future. Many question the family and how you are as an adult and as a parent.

You need to be there and answer questions, and also be patient when you feel that you are being treated unfairly.

The perception of time is becoming increasingly realistic and often interest in the future is increasing. Many teenagers then make long-term plans, for example in terms of study, job and lifestyle. Teenagers are often more confident about what they are good at and what interests they have.

Sometimes you need to help with different perspectives

Sometimes teens can have a hard time getting out of thinking or thinking about what it is like. For example, it may be about being completely absorbed in an interest or a particular ideology, or being extremely self-absorbed. Then you need to help by using your own life experience and, for example, tell about your own interest or ideology, or show books, sites or movies.

When a young person becomes more aware of their own and life’s limitations, it can cause them to have a lower self-esteem and a pessimistic outlook on life. Talk to your teen about what they think. Convey that even if it does not go exactly as they intended, there may be other good alternatives.

It is an obvious part of life to sometimes feel doubt, that mood swings, to ponder, to feel sad or depressed.

But if the teenager has trouble for a long time, and for example, lose the desire to do such things to them otherwise they think is fun, not able to school, start eating and sleeping poorly and ending up with friends, it can mean that they have had a depression. Then you need to seek help.

The teen develops in his way of being with others

Teenagers are training to become adults. They seek their identity and their adult role and place in society. They test different solutions in terms of identity and lifestyle. This takes place, among other things, in the imagination and through the influence of friends, parents, other adults and from different media. The teen learns how they are, what they need and how they want to be.

Be permissive for your child to try and try to find their own identity. Some need to try more than others.

Try different adult behaviors

The search for one’s own identity is also about deciding and testing different types of adult behaviors, such as having a summer job, doing a trip on your own or being with someone. By doing things that adults do, they leave childhood behind and define themselves as an adult, both for themselves and for the family.

Some teenagers know early on who they are and what they want to do in life and have no need to try alternative ways. But many are experimenting a bit to be clear about what they want and who they are.

It is common to try different roles by fantasizing and discussing with peers and other people. It is common for teens to change music tastes, friends, clothing style and leisure activities several times. It is a way to try what they like and how the surroundings react. It is part of finding your own identity.

To be like everyone else and to stand out

The desire not to stand out from the crowd can be strong. It can feel embarrassing, for example, to have acne, to be the only one who has not received menstruation, to be much longer or shorter than others of the same age, or to not have the same clothes or things that your friends have.

Wanting to be similar to others of the same age is a way for the teen to highlight that “it is among these that I have my future”. Show that you understand without the adjustment going to exaggeration or that the teenager is exposed to risks that they cannot handle.

For many, it is also important to stand out, not to be like everyone else.

Teens question

It is common for teens to question parents and other adults, and, for example, would rather discuss with their parents’ parents than with their own. They may find that their parents are embarrassed, outdated and see themselves as superior. “Give me money so I move”, “I can manage myself” are examples of things said in quarrels and conflicts. It is part of the preparation to cope with oneself and life ahead.

Many question, among other things, norms and politics. Listen to your teenager and think that you can learn from them without giving up your opinion. Talk about how to be with each other and treat others.

School is important

In school, the teen can develop together with others, both in school work and by being with other students. If the teen gets good friends they can provide the support and confirmation they need.

How teens thrive in school is often related to how school work goes and how they thrive with friends and teachers. You therefore need to know how the studies are going and try to support if needed, and know how your child is doing well.

Being away from school can negatively affect your child in many ways. Read more about different reasons why children are away from school and what you can do.

Doing things at leisure

Leisure activities are a way of having fun, finding friends and exercising their social skills. Having an interest alongside the school that you share with others can be especially important if you do not have good friends in school.

Friends and belonging

Friends become very important to many. They feel good about being with friends and to feel, among other things, that they belong with others. Many would rather be with friends than with their family. Some examples are that the teenager no longer wants to join in watching movies with the rest of the family, or wants to avoid having to attend family activities.

But many teens do not need to be with friends. They enjoy themselves, and as long as they get to choose the way they want to do it is good. It is when the teenager is himself though they do not want it to be harmful.

You don’t have to meet to socialize. Many people spend time with computers and mobile phones.

Not having friends or when friendships are difficult

Not having a friend, not having someone on the break to be with or being bullied is among the most difficult a young person can be exposed to. Violations, slander and outrage from other teens or adults can occur in all social contexts, for example in school, on the internet, via mobile and in leisure activities.

It is common for teens not to talk about this, as they are often ashamed of not being able to join or be bullied. Parents, school staff and other adults therefore have a great responsibility to find out if a child is exposed and to do something about it directly.

It is common to feel anxious about how one’s teenager is, for example, if they have no friends or that their friends are not nice.

Talk to your teen. Ask how they are doing and enjoy friends. Many young people do not want to talk about it. Tell them you are there if they want to talk and that there are others to talk to, for example, on student health or a youth reception. They can also call BRIS or on-call buddy. At UMO.se there are several texts about this for young people.

Internet, computer games, screens and social media

For teens, the internet, computer games and social media are a part of life. It’s something they grew up with. They have friends online, make new contacts and learn more about things. They blog and youtubar, and read and look at other people’s material. They hang out in forums and chat. Many people play together.

Through the internet they can find friends, which can be especially good if the teen does not have good friends in school. The network also makes it possible to socialize even though you live far apart.

It can be difficult to set limits on how much the teen should use the internet or play games, for example. Some young people are connected late at night which can cause them to have trouble sleeping. Try to find a solution together. In this way, the teen can also train to set boundaries.

Show interest in what they do online

Sometimes it can be difficult to keep up with and understand everything that young people do. It can be scary not knowing what your child is watching, playing or how they are communicating with others.

Show interest in what your child does online. Ask about which sites they are on, what games they play and how they spend time online. It creates a sense of community and makes you understand better. Talk about why there are age limits on certain games, how they can do if they are contacted by someone completely foreign who asks strange questions, such as about the body or sex habits.

Stressful to be successful on social media

Social media is usually fun and a way to keep in touch, discuss things and keep up. But it can also be stressful to chase “likes” and to compare yourself with others.

Talk about it and try to understand how your teen thinks and thinks about it.

Here you can read on the surfing website about young people, the internet, games and social media, and how you can talk about it.

Love, desire and sex

In the teens, interest and desire increase to six. It is part of the development. Just like adults, many teenagers think of sex several times a day.

Many fall in love and some have relationships. Often they have deep feelings and feel very strongly. Some talk about it, others don’t want to say anything at all.

It can feel painful to be very in love but not dare to contact the person you have feelings for. It can also be difficult if the love you feel is unanswered.

Most teenagers masturbate, trying out what’s nice and exciting. It is part of the development and a way to get to know one’s body and one’s own sexuality.

Some start having sex with others, but it can also take several years before some have sex.

Sexual development and identity

Teenagers think about their sexuality, their body and maybe compare themselves with others. Sexual development includes seeking answers to questions such as “am I normal?”, Or “does the one I like appear to me?”

Part of the development is also to get to know what one feels for the opposite sex and for the same sex.

Talk about having the right to be who you are, that you have the right to have your feelings and to love and be with who you want. Talk about feelings and how it can feel to be in love, about how love and desire can be experienced.

Also talk about the right to their own body, that if someone shows or says no to intimacy and sex it means no. You shouldn’t have sex if you don’t want to.

Talk about what it should be like to have sex with someone else, about pleasure. Tell me it’s about mutual respect between people who want to have sex together. Also talk about different types of birth control, pregnancy and STDs.

If you feel that you cannot talk about these things, you can use various books or sites on the web. One tip is to buy a book and leave it at the front. You can tip about umo.se, where there is information for young people about love, desire and sex. Also, tell them they can contact student health or a youth reception.

Taking risks is an important part of development

An important part of the development from being a child to becoming an adult is about testing and experimenting to get answers to questions about life and what you can do.

Although a young person sometimes ends up in situations that they cannot always assess, it is necessary for the development to take certain risks. At the same time, you need to prevent your teen from doing things that could have serious consequences in the future.

The brain is extra sensitive

The brain is not fully developed until 20 to 25 years of age. Different parts of the brain develop at different rates. It is extra sensitive to impact, not least from peers. It can be both good and bad. It becomes bad if the teen does something they don’t want to do, or if it is dangerous or criminal.

Areas of the brain that have to do with desire and excitement are extra activated when you are young. It may explain that young people dare to take greater risks, such as trying what is new and unknown or contacting other people.

Much of the teen’s behavior has to do with brain development. Some parts of the brain are not as well developed as an adult. It affects what has to do with assessing risks, being able to control and control impulses, and being able to take into account the consequences that something has in the long term.

Eventually there will be balance and coordination between the different areas of the brain. Before that, young people can be perceived as wise and sensible and can reason in an adult way when you are on your own, but it can be much more difficult when they are with friends. It can also be much more difficult if, for example, they are scared, angry, happy or in love because emotions can have a lot of influence.

Self-image and self-esteem

How to look at yourself is called self-image.

Self-esteem is about what value you feel you have, about being who you are and being good.

A teenager’s self-image and self-esteem is affected by the immediate surroundings, such as family, friends and school. Teenagers are also influenced by the ideals that exist in advertising and in the community around them.

It can vary a lot from how teens see themselves. It can also vary greatly from one period to another. They can, among other things, feel invincible and the best in the world. Many have strong self-esteem and a positive self-image. But it is also common to feel vulnerable and bad at everything. Most often it varies how they feel in different periods.

Striving to be the best or successful in everything and comparing yourself to others can create a lot of stress. It can be about the school, grades, friends, weight, appearance and leisure activities. There is a risk that the teen will feel mentally ill if they push themselves too hard in different ways.

So you can strengthen your child’s self-esteem

Here are some examples of how you can boost your teen’s self-esteem:

  • Show and tell you that you like your child. Show that they make you happy. Do this without requiring any performance from the teenager.
  • Listen and be present.
  • Think about your own living habits and attitude towards yourself and others. How you do and say affects your child. Good living habits include eating good food and moving.
  • Show that what the teenager feels is important. Make them feel what they want.

Being a parent to a teenager

Your child will become more independent and want to do more himself. But don’t be too quick to transfer too much responsibility to your teen. Your teen needs to take responsibility and have the confidence that they can manage based on their maturity, while also feeling that you are there if needed. Talk together what they feel ready to do. Try. Change if needed.

Let the teenager join in and make some decisions in the family. They need to be more involved the older they are.

You need to provide security

You still have a lot of importance in your child’s life. Even teens need to know that there are adults who want to know how they feel and who they can contact if they need to. Children of all ages need an adult who can provide security and emotional closeness.

The older the child becomes, the less is the need for closeness and physical contact. The child knows inside you that you are there when needed. It will then be important to be there in other ways. It can be, for example, talking, having eye contact, listening and being interested.

Be present and active

Be involved in your child’s life, inquire about interests, games and friends. Be curious about his world.

You need to listen to their thoughts, without judging. Take time when they want to talk. Be present, socialize and talk without, for example, looking at the mobile phone all the time.

Many teenagers have a lot of ideas, which are both interesting and important. You can learn a lot.

Your relationship also changes so you can do other things together. If they want to.

Get to know your teen’s friends, let them bring friends home.

The teen needs to increase the distance to you as a parent

To find her own adult role, the teen needs to free herself a bit from you as a parent. Among other things, she searches for other examples and values. This can be noticed, for example, by spending time with them and discussing with friends and even other adults.

It is common to feel disappointed, sad or maybe unsuccessful if one’s teenager avoids contact. But that they no longer want to share their privacy or do not want to be in the same way as before can be part of the search for their own identity and an important part of the development. It is also needed for them to dare to go out on their own in the world.

Your attitude and personality determine

Everyone is their own personalities. How you look at life and how it should be affects how you think and think that you should teach your child about life and how to guide them during childhood.

Think about your own teenage years and the relationship with your or your parents. It can help you understand what your teen is going through.

Be open and be patient

You need patience and time, and be open to suggestions and ideas for you to come up with different solutions together. Customize your way of being. Sometimes the teenager is independent and responsible, sometimes there are things that they can not do themselves.

In the early teens, many teens can totally ignore what you say or think. Later, many become more secure in their identity and then it can be easier to talk to each other.

How you use alcohol, tobacco and drugs plays a big role

As a parent, you are still an example of how you behave towards others and how to take care of yourself. This applies, for example, to alcohol and tobacco habits. How you use alcohol and tobacco, and what rules you set are of great importance for whether and how teens use drugs. For example, it has been found that the youth who are offered alcohol at home by their parents drink more than those who are not allowed to drink alcohol at home.

It is easy to get hold of different kinds of drugs and some young samples. Most people try only once, but some get addicted. Detecting drug abuse in your teen is not easy. Some warning signs may be new habits, a different 24-hour rhythm, telephone calls from unknowns and things going worse at school.

You can read on the website Teenage Parlor about how you can talk to young people about alcohol.

Talk to each other and to others

Talk about why you use alcohol, why you start smoking, sniffing and trying drugs. Talk about the risks and consequences that exist and how to say no. Also talk about the fact that everyone can make mistakes, and that you are prepared for your teen to make mistakes and that you can then help, for example, if they have consumed too much alcohol.

If the teenager comes home full at some point, that doesn’t mean they are bad looking.

Encourage healthy interests that your teen has. It protects in the teen’s life.

Talk to other teenagers and parents

Also talk to your friends’ parents and your teen’s friends. Then you can, for example, know how they think and what they do. Get involved in parenting, where you meet the young and you adults can help each other.

Tips for teenage parents

Here are some tips and hints:

  • Do things together that both like. Have fun together. Listen to when your teen wants to tell you something fun. It strengthens your relationship.
  • Respect your teen’s privacy. Try to find a balance between showing interest in what your teen does and thinking and his right to a private life.
  • Don’t take everything personally when it comes to criticizing you. Keep in mind that it is many times the bond to you that is challenged and not yourself.
  • Be patient with the teen trying out different roles and attitudes. Don’t bother too much about behaviors that are less good. Select a few areas that are important for protecting teenagers’ health and preserving community in the family. Instead, praise small things that the teen does well on his own initiative.
  • Listen to the teenager’s concerns and try to help if they want.
  • Agree on rules together and follow them. Talk occasionally about how you think they work.
  • Make sure there is time for rest and recovery.
  • Take responsibility as an adult and treat your child with respect. Do not try to become friends, but adapt your parenting to the development stage.

If you need support

Seek help if you feel you need support in your parenting. You may also feel anxious about your teen. For example, it may be that they are pushing themselves too hard in terms of school or training, having problems with friends, changing behavior or changing habits that do not seem good. It may also be that your relationship is not working well.

Here are some examples of what you can do:

  • Talk to your own network of friends, relatives and workmates, for example.
  • Talk to other adults, such as parents of your child’s classmates or other friends.
  • Join parent groups, for example, in school.
  • Contact student health at school. There, among other things, there are school nurse, doctor and curator. Read more about student health here.
  • Contact a youth reception.
  • Contact a health care center.
  • Contact the municipality. Some municipalities offer parental support in groups or individually. Find information on your municipality’s website.

You can also contact these anonymously:

  • BRIS for adults.
  • The Association Minds parent phone.

In some counties there is a special parent phone at the Police where you can call.

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