How Can Parents Support Healthy Adolescent Development?

How Can Parents Support Healthy Adolescent Development?


Adolescence is the period of developmental transition between childhood and adulthood, involving multiple physical, intellectual, personality, and social developmental changes. The onset of puberty signals the beginning of adolescence, and puberty now occurs earlier, on average, than in the past. The end of this developmental period is tied more so to social and emotional factors and can be somewhat ambiguous.

What Parents Can Do To Support Healthy Adolescent Development


Give your undivided attention when your children want to talk. Don't read, watch television, or busy yourself with other tasks.

Listen calmly and concentrate on hearing and understanding your children's point of view.

Speak to your children as courteously and pleasantly as you would to a stranger. Your tone of voice can set the tone of a conversation.

Understand your children's feelings—even if you don't always approve of their behavior. Try not to make judgments. Keep the door open on any subject. Be an "askable" parent.

Avoid belittling and humiliating your children and laughing at what may seem to you to be naive or foolish questions and statements.

Encourage your children to "test" new ideas in conversation by not judging their ideas and opinions, but instead by listening and then offering your own views as plainly and honestly as possible. Love and mutual respect can coexist with differing points of view.

Help your children build self-confidence by encouraging their participation in activities of their choice (not yours).

Make an effort to commend your children frequently and appropriately. Too often, we take the good things for granted and focus on the bad, but everyone needs to be appreciated.

Encourage your children to participate in family decision making and to work out family concerns together with you. Understand that your children need to challenge your opinions and your ways of doing things to achieve the separation from you that's essential for their own adult identity.

What Adolescents Can Do


Avoid looking at your parents as the enemy. Chances are that they love you and have your best interests in mind, even if you don't necessarily agree with their way of showing that.

Try to understand that your parents are human beings, with their own insecurities, needs, and feelings.
Listen to your parents with an open mind, and try to see situations from their point of view.

Share your feelings with your parents so that they can understand you better.

Live up to your responsibilities at home and in school so that your parents will be more inclined to grant you the kind of independence you want and need.

Bolster your criticisms of family, school, and government with suggestions for practical improvements.

Be as courteous and considerate to your own parents as you would be to the parents of your friends.