• Sakshi

Sudden behavior changes in teens: Helping them through puberty changes

Adolescence is an extremely volatile and tricky age. Puberty begets plenty of changes in a teen’s life. They are on their journey of transitioning from a child to an adult. This process entails several changes in their body in all the aspects from emotional, physical, psychological to hormonal, chemical, and social.

This may seem pretty intimidating as a parent but never fear, there are loads you can do to support your child through it all. For starters, try and be a little reassuring.

Puberty is a set of natural bodily changes that every kid goes through. Almost every child struggles with the changes. Needless to say, puberty is not the best of times.

These young minds are exposed to various harmful and shady activities like substance abuse, violence, peer pressure addictions, etc. This, in turn, makes them vulnerable to a lot of mental health problems.

Krystal Sutherland, in her novel, Chemical Hearts has brilliantly explained the complexities of teen years. She describes adolescence to be a limbo between childhood and adult life where you are not young enough to be naive or old enough to be mature.

She says, “adults are just scarred kids who were lucky to make it out of the limbo alive.” Every decision in teen years feels larger than life. You feel everything a little too much be it pain, happiness, love, excitement, jealousy, and so on. It’s really the chemical changes playing at you.

Trying to make sense of things seems challenging and perverse. Adolescence for most of us is far from easy. This smudge of time constitutes a permanent state of impermanence. Anything done in this evanescence of time feels confusing and meaningless. All this chaos and uncertainty causes intense anxiety and recklessness that makes it all the more difficult to survive the perils of these teen years.

Therefore, supporting mental well-being and shielding teenagers from adverse experiences is a critical step towards healthier adulthood.

Now the question arises - How do you support your child during puberty?

If there is something that parents can do for their teenage rebels is to be a pillar for them. Even if they seem to be doing okay, chances are they are putting on a brave face. This is when you, the parents, need to reach in.

Tell them that puberty is an interesting time that is laying the foundations for their adult life. Show them the love and acceptance that they long for the most. Be compassionate for the turmoil they are experiencing. Reassure them that these changes do not dictate who they are and who they will be. Believe in them. Tell them that these changes shall too pass. Hearten them by being their refuge, their home.

In case, you feel they are still withdrawn, give them the time. If this persists, talk to a mental healthcare expert. Puberty is a time where teens face most of their body image issues.

Either they start to delve into self-hatred or begin to compare themselves with others. One of the best things you can do is to comfort them by explaining to them that there is nothing wrong with their appearance; that people come in all shapes, forms, and sizes. This is perhaps the best time for remodelling their belief system, which, if done right, can prove to be a lot fruitful.

Understand that teens need their privacy more than anything. Trust them and do not try to control their actions. Recognize their calls for privacy and try to be considerate of their boundaries.

Appreciate your teen children for their achievements, endeavours, and trials.

Do not read too much into everything. See them for who they are, not what they do. Sometimes their actions are acts of impulsiveness and a cry for help.

Due to their extreme hormonal and emotional imbalances, teenagers may often lash out. Try not to complicate matters. Stay calm and relaxed, and give them time to cool down. Later, talk about the problem when it seems right.

Take interest in the discussions with your child. Participate actively and let them know that you care.

Encourage your teenager to find their medium of expressing themselves. Once they find it, be accepting and supportive of it even if it means putting through their odd fashion sense.

It is completely normal if your child wants to take some time off for their self-care and improvement. Do not force the trendy hustle culture on them and let them follow wherever their interest takes them.