11-14-2022 01:03 PM - edited 11-14-2022 01:03 PM
Puberty causes big changes not only for our teen's body, but for their emotions and mental health too. This can affect all different aspects of their life and your relationship with them.
Join us here on Wednesday 16th November at 12pm where our psychologist Linda and medical professional Akhil will be answering your questions on all things puberty! We'll be covering a range of topics including mental and physical health, LGBTQIA+ wellbeing, connection, relationships and more. See you then!
11-16-2022 12:01 PM
Hi all and thanks for joining us!
Today our Psychologist and Clinical Lead, Linda, will be answering your questions on all things puberty related. A big thank you to those who submitted their questions!
We will be chatting a bit about mental health, relationships and body image during this event. If this brings up anything for you, we encourage you to practice some self-care and reach out for support if you need. Some helpful support services are :
We welcome you to add your thoughts, experiences and questions as we go - or whenever you are having a read through. Let's get started!
11-16-2022 12:03 PM - edited 11-16-2022 12:04 PM
Q : What are some of the emotional changes that are common during puberty?
Linda : "There are a number of emotional changes which happen during puberty. These changes are influenced both by the physical changes that are happening, and by changes in your child’s social environment as they move from children to teenagers.
Common changes include:
- More changeable moods, including being frustrated more often
- Wanting to be more independent
- Focusing more on relationships with peers than parents
- Interest in sex and romantic relationships
- Being self-conscious and comparing themselves to others (especially in relation to their appearance)
- Exploring their sexuality or gender identity
- Exploring identity more broadly (thinking about why they are who they are). This can result in changes in things like political and religious beliefs, appearance or hobbies.
Exactly what changes occur and when varies from person to person, but it’s helpful to think about this as a process, rather than something which happens all at once."
Resources : Puberty & teenagers
11-16-2022 12:09 PM
Q : How can we guide our kids through the changes of puberty?
Linda : "It can be helpful to start with having a good understanding of some of the changes that happen during puberty, so that you can be a source of information for your children.
Open communication is important in relationships between parents and teens. It helps to focus on providing non-judgemental support, really listening to your teens' concerns and opinions."
"Sometimes your teen may not want to talk things over in detail with you, and that’s okay. You can provide regular invitations to talk, and make it clear your door is always open, without attempting to make them talk. Finding activities you can do together can also be a great way of maintaining a positive and supportive relationship with your teen.
It’s important to support your teens' move toward developing independence. Ways you can do this include revisiting the rules and boundaries you have, as these may need to be adjusted regularly to make sure they are appropriate for your child’s age and development. This includes making sure that your teen has a clear understanding of expectations, and the consequences of rule-breaking. This doesn’t mean that they won’t break the rules from time to time, but breaking rules (and experiencing consequences) is part of the process of learning for them as well.
If your teen comes to you with a problem or concern, focus on listening, rather than giving them advice. It may also be helpful to offer to problem-solve together, as a way to support the development of their decision-making abilities."
11-16-2022 12:14 PM
Q : I feel like I don’t know my teen any more - is this normal? How can I try and reconnect with her?
Linda : "The teen years are a time of change, and also a time when teens focus on their relationships with their peers rather than their parents. These can combine to leave parents feeling disconnected and uncertain about what is happening.
Part of moving from child to adult is gaining independence, and throughout the teenage years this can cause a sense that teens are ‘pushing away’ from their parents, as they are less likely to come to you with problems or seek your opinion.
Teens are also going through a process of exploring their identity. They are thinking about things like their beliefs, values, interests and who they are as a person. This can result in them changing their behaviour, appearance, hobbies etc, rapidly as they explore what feels right for them, which can be disconcerting for parents who might be used to their child acting a certain way.
A great way to reconnect is to do something related to your teens current interests - this could be as simple as watching a show they like with them, or asking about a new hobby they have. Showing genuine interest in their opinions and in what they like is a good way for your teen to feel supported and valued.
Regular communication can also help. Teens can be sensitive to feeling like they are going to be judged and can be protective of their privacy, so sometimes when a parent asks questions they may be reluctant to answer. Keeping questions simple and positive, and not pushing if there are topics your teen doesn’t want to discuss, are good ways of encouraging communication."
11-16-2022 12:20 PM
Q : My teen daughter seems to be more self-conscious lately with her body and appearance. How can I help?
Linda : "You’ve already taken the first important step, which is noticing that something has changed. It’s really common for teens to experience worries about their appearance and body. This can be prompted by some of the physical changes of puberty as well as social pressure to look a certain way.
Teens can often be very focused on appearance, so one of the things that can help is noticing and talking about positive qualities your daughter has (without talking about her appearance). This encourages positive self-esteem which helps protect against negative body image.
You can also act as a role model when it comes to talking about body image and eating. Some of the ways you can do this is by not participating in diet culture (for instance, not encouraging dieting, and not labelling certain foods as ‘bad’); focusing conversations on things other than appearance or eating, and being critical of unhelpful messages from the media."
"It’s also important to keep the lines of communication open. Teens are often reluctant to talk too much to parents about what is happening for them, but by regularly checking in and expressing support and interest, your daughter will know that she can talk to you when she’s ready.
Sometimes concerns about body image can be linked to an eating disorder. If your daughter shows signs of changes in her eating habits, is exercising excessively, or appears very worried about her weight or food intake, you may find it helpful to speak with the Butterfly Foundation."
Resources : Body image and puberty
11-16-2022 12:23 PM - edited 11-16-2022 12:24 PM
Q : My son has been depressed for a while now and is refusing to get help. Is depression normal during puberty or should I be pushing for a trip to the GP?
Linda : "Most teens are sad or upset at times, but this is different from depression. Depression is common in teens, but it isn’t simply a part of growing up, and it’s a good idea to seek help.
Signs your son may be depressed are things like:
- a consistent low mood (sadness, apathy or irritation)
- problems with sleep
- changes in appetite
- changes in behaviour (like not wanting to spend time with friends or not doing activities he usually enjoys)
- seeming hopeless or negative about the future or about themselves
If these symptoms last at least two weeks, and are present most of the time, this suggests he could be experiencing depression.
It can be really tricky when a teen doesn’t want to see a professional. Sometimes this may be because they are worried about being judged, don’t want to talk about what is happening, or don’t see how talking will help.
It’s important to be patient and continue to offer support - even if your son doesn’t want to talk to you, knowing you are available to listen can be reassuring and helpful.
It can also be helpful to encourage healthy routines like eating well, exercising, and regularly doing hobbies or other enjoyable activities. Keep in mind that when someone is depressed even simple tasks feel like more effort, so keeping it simple is a good idea.
Your son might also be more willing to start with a small step like looking at information online or talking with a helpline.
Sometimes when people are depressed they experience thoughts of suicide. If your son expresses thoughts of suicide or self-harm, then I would recommend contacting a helpline or asking your GP for advice."
Resources : What to do if my teenager doesn’t want help
11-16-2022 12:34 PM
Q : My teen often has angry outbursts. Is this normal?
Linda : "As your teen goes through puberty, you might notice that they express anger or frustration more often than before. Puberty can be a stressful time since teens are dealing with physical, social and emotional changes. Stress and other difficult emotions can sometimes show up in the form of angry outbursts.
However, if your teen seems angry most of the time, if they are behaving in a way which is damaging their relationships with family and friends, or if anger is getting them into trouble at school, this can be a sign that they are having more than the usual challenges when it comes to dealing with anger.
It’s important to keep in mind that anger or an irritable mood can be a sign of depression or another mental health problem, so if you notice your teen is angry a lot, it is useful to think about whether there are any other changes in their behaviour you have noticed (like problems with sleep or appetite, not spending time with friends, not doing things they usually enjoy). If you have noticed other changes, then it is worth considering professional help."
"The best time to talk to your teen about anger is a time when they are feeling calm or in a relatively good mood. They may feel defensive if they think they are in trouble or going to be blamed for being angry, so it is important to be ready to listen, and understand what is happening for them. There may be particular challenges which are contributing to anger, or they may not know why they get angry.
The aim is to work as a team to identify a helpful next step - whether this is seeing a professional, practicing some strategies to manage their anger, or doing some problem solving together to address a situation with which is contributing to their anger."
Resources : Help your teen manage their anger
11-16-2022 12:38 PM
Q : My 13 year old as been looking up sexually explicit content online. Is this a normal age to be doing this?
Linda : "The age that teens begin expressing interest in sex varies from person to person, but 13 years is not at all unusual.
Teens may look up sexual content online out of curiosity, in an attempt to learn about sex, or because they are experiencing sexual attraction that they want to explore.It can be pretty confronting for parents, who are aware that there is a lot of material out there which is not suitable for 13 year olds. When you become aware of your teen accessing this type of material, it can be helpful to have a chat with them.
Your 13 year old might be worried about being in trouble, so it’s important to stay calm, and make sure that they know that being interested in sex is normal. They also might have questions about sex or about what they have seen, and making sure that they have safe sources of information can be really helpful.
It’s a good idea to also talk to them about some of the downsides of looking at porn - that porn can provide people with an unrealistic idea of what sex is really like, of how most people’s bodies look, and that often the way people treat each other in porn is not okay in the real world."
Resources : Talking to your teen about pornography
11-16-2022 12:48 PM
Thank you so much for joining, and to Linda for providing such valuable answers and information!
Puberty is such a huge topic that covers so many aspects of our teen's lives and we've seen some fantastic questions here! You can check out more of our articles on puberty here too. We also encourage you to add your thoughts, experiences and any other questions you may have, and we’ll get back to you as soon as we can.
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