Emotional Changes during Puberty - a blog post by Mommyshravmusings

10 Common Emotional Changes During Puberty and How Parents Can Help

A Parent’s Guide to Common Emotional Changes During Puberty

The other day, my son suddenly stormed out of the room over what seemed like a minor tease. My son is generally a tough nut and doesn’t get perturbed easily by teasing. The intensity of his emotions took me aback for what seemed like a trivial matter. And it took us a while to get my son back at the family dinner table.

Later in the night, I realized he was entering a new phase of his life—puberty—and that’s what made him more distressed and emotional about what seemed to be a trivial matter. Puberty is the most critical part of our precious children as they go through growth spurts, and the raging hormones take them through a big emotional roller coaster ride. Understanding the common emotional changes during puberty can make this journey smoother for both parents and teens.

Common Emotional Changes during Puberty  - a blog post by mommyshravmusings

Whether you’re a seasoned parent or just beginning this journey, the insights discussed in this blog post will help you navigate the emotional rollercoaster of puberty with empathy and patience.

Why Emotional Changes Occur during Puberty:

As parents, witnessing our teens’ emotional highs and lows can be both perplexing and concerning. However, understanding the reasons behind these emotional changes can provide clarity and empathy during this transformative period.

Puberty is a complex time marked by significant physical, psychological, and social developments. Here are some critical developments that, as parents, we should be aware of:

  1. The onset of puberty triggers the release of various hormones, such as testosterone in boys and estrogen and progesterone in girls. These hormones are responsible not only for the development of secondary sexual characteristics but also significantly affect mood and emotions.
  2. During puberty, the adolescent brain undergoes significant development, particularly in the prefrontal cortex, responsible for decision-making, impulse control, and emotional regulation.
  3. The physical changes that occur during puberty, like growth spurts, changes in body shape, and development of secondary sexual characteristics, can confuse teens and need a bit of adjustment.
  4. Puberty is also critical for identity exploration as teens seek to understand who they are and get comfortable with their own sexuality and how they fit in the world.
  5. During puberty, teens’ social landscape changes dramatically. Peer relationships and initial crushes become more important. Peer acceptance can significantly influence self-esteem and emotional well-being.

Understanding these underlying causes helps parents appreciate why their teens might be experiencing these emotional changes and allows them to offer the proper support and guidance during this transformative period.

Common Emotional Changes During Puberty:

Here are some common emotional changes during puberty that preteens or teens often experience, which parents should be aware of:

1. Mood Swings:

Mood Swings are pretty common in teens. Hormonal changes in their bodies influence neurotransmitters like dopamine and serotonin, which regulate emotions. However, the part of the brain responsible for impulse control and emotional regulation is still under development, which is why we see a lot of mood swings in teens.

However, you had already seen this phase in your child when they were navigating through their toddlerhood. Due to the rapid brain development at that stage, your toddler would have become highly irritable and unpredictable.

So dust down your parenting toolkit, which you used during your child’s toddler days to handle the mood swings of your preteens or teens. I realized that having predictable routines helped my preteen manage his mood swings or emotional outbursts. So, you might have some tools to help your teen calm down.

2. Increased Sensitivity:

During puberty, teens are often more self-conscious and aware of how others perceive them. They might misinterpret neutral or well-intentioned comments as criticism or disapproval, leading to hurt feelings or defensiveness. For instance, a simple comment about their appearance or performance can trigger an intense reaction.

They might overreact to what seems like minor issues to adults. This heightened sensitivity can manifest in several ways, such as angry outbursts, withdrawals, or even storming out of that situation. They may be particularly vulnerable to negative feedback and may internalize criticisms, affecting their self-image and confidence. And this will lead to loneliness and teenage depression.

Teens require our support in the form of positive encouragement and honest discussions. They don’t need our commentary or ridicule about how they manage their stuff. You can ask for help cleaning their room or paste a note on their door without reminding them 100 times or ridiculing them about their messy room. You can place a deodorant near their mirror without mentioning it.

3. Seeking Independence:

Teenagers will likely start pushing boundaries and testing limits as they strive for more Independence. This desire for autonomy is a normal part of growing up. They may resist parental guidance and prefer to rely on their judgment.

They often question rules, curfews, and parental authority. They may argue or negotiate for more freedom and fewer restrictions.

Having consistent boundaries allows them some flexibility in making their own decisions. Encourage Independence by giving them age-appropriate responsibilities and choices. We have to make sure your teen understands why these rules are in place, and the importance of safety and responsibility, so the best way to have these boundaries is to discuss them with them in your regular family meetings. We must also show them that we trust them to manage their privacy responsibly.

Common Emotional Changes during Puberty  - a blog post by mommyshravmusings

4. Identity Exploration:

Teens will explore different aspects of their identity, including their interests, values, and beliefs. This process can involve questioning family traditions, experimenting with different styles or hobbies, and trying to find their own path.

This exploration is essential for developing a sense of self and can involve trying new activities, hobbies, or styles. But in their quest for Independence, some teens may engage in risky behaviors, such as experimenting with alcohol, drugs, or other activities that push boundaries.

As parents, we must provide opportunities for our teens to try new activities and support their choices, even if they differ from our own preferences. We must also celebrate their individuality and the unique qualities they bring. By creating a safe space for open communication without judgment for your teens, you teach them the process of safe risk-taking and responsibility.

5. Peer Influence:

Peer acceptance becomes highly important, and peer pressure can significantly influence your child’s adolescence. They may go to great lengths to fit in with their peer group by adopting behaviors, attitudes, and appearances similar to those of their friends, like trying new fashions, listening to specific music, or even participating in risky activities.

Online interactions can amplify peer influence, as teens are constantly exposed to their peers’ lives and may feel pressure to present themselves in a certain way.

We must continue to have regular conversations about their friends and social media usage. We also need to educate them about positive and negative peer relationships and provide them with alternatives or strategies to use when they feel uncomfortable or awkward in any relationship or situation. It’s a good idea to convert your home into a welcoming place for your teen and their friends. This action will allow you to observe their interactions and better understand their peer group.

6. Romantic Interests:

Developing romantic feelings and interests is a normal part of puberty. Teens may develop strong, often intense feelings for peers or even celebrities. These crushes can be fleeting or last for a significant period, leading to daydreaming, nervousness, or excitement when around the object of their affection.

Along with romantic interests, teens may begin to explore their sexual orientation and feelings. This exploration can involve attraction to the same sex, opposite sex, or both. Some teens may start dating, experiencing their first romantic relationships. These relationships can be thrilling and provide a sense of companionship but may also be a source of stress and confusion as they learn to navigate new emotions and social dynamics.

It is time we educate our teens about healthy relationships, their characteristics, and how to identify and develop them, especially with the opposite sex. Inform them that a relationship built on fundamental pillars like mutual respect, trust, and communication will stand the test of time and difficult situations. Also, we need to provide accurate information to our teens about sex, contraception, and sexually transmitted infections (STIs). This knowledge is crucial for making informed and responsible decisions.

Teens may experience crushes, start dating, and navigate the complexities of romantic relationships, including the highs and lows.

7. Body and Image Consciousness:

Physical changes during puberty can increase self-awareness and concerns about body image and attractiveness. Teens may become more focused on their appearance and compare themselves to peers.

As parents, we need to become role models for having a positive body image and self-esteem. Please try to avoid negative comments about weight or appearance and emphasize the importance of inner qualities over physical looks. Remind them about their uniqueness and unique gifts that you and other family members cherish in them.

8. Impulsive Actions:

Teenagers’ brains are still maturing, particularly the prefrontal cortex, which is responsible for critical thinking, impulse control, and decision-making. As a result, teens often rely more on the amygdala, the brain’s emotional center, which can lead to more impulsive and emotionally driven decisions. That’s why they are more likely to prioritize short-term gratification over long-term benefits.

We need to teach them critical thinking skills by discussing scenarios involving the decision-making process and the potential outcomes/consequences. We must teach them how to evaluate the possible outcomes of risky behaviors versus the potential rewards. Understanding how emotions influence decisions can help them make more balanced choices in the future.

Common Emotional Changes during Puberty

9. Need for Privacy:

They will also have a growing need for more privacy. They might spend more time alone in their rooms, enjoying solitude or engaging in activities such as reading, listening to music, or using their phones. This alone time allows them to reflect on their thoughts and feelings without external pressure.

They also start becoming defensive about their personal space and belongings. They may become upset if parents or siblings invade their space without permission. They also become less willing to share details about their daily activities, thoughts, and experiences with their parents.

As parents, we need to acknowledge and respect our teens’ need for privacy. We should avoid entering their room without knocking and waiting for permission. While respecting their need for privacy, we also have to encourage open communication so that our teens know that we are available to listen to them and support them whenever they need to talk.

10. Stress and Anxiety:

Increased academic demands, social pressures, and extracurricular activities can contribute to heightened stress and anxiety. Concerns about the future, including college admissions, career choices, and financial Independence, can cause anxiety. The uncertainty and pressure to make crucial decisions can be daunting.

And at the same time, the desire to fit in and be accepted by peers can create significant anxiety along with self-doubt, body image issues, and the pressure to define who they are and what they stand for.

As parents, we must help our teens with healthy coping mechanisms for stress management. Techniques such as deep breathing exercises, mindfulness, meditation, and physical activities like yoga can be effective in reducing anxiety. We also have to be mindful of the expectations we set for them and provide them with the necessary encouragement and reassurance when needed.

Parents can better support their teens during this crucial developmental stage by understanding and preparing for these emotional changes during puberty.

Parting Thoughts:

As parents, we must provide a stable, supportive environment that fosters open communication and mutual respect. Encourage healthy habits, be patient and understanding, and offer guidance without being overbearing. Recognize that your teen’s need for privacy and Independence is a natural part of growing up, and trust that they will successfully navigate these years with the proper support.

It’s also important to be aware of the signs of stress and anxiety and to equip your teen with the tools they need to manage these feelings. Help them develop strong decision-making skills by offering opportunities for practice, teaching critical thinking, and modeling good behavior.

By being mindful of these emotional changes and implementing these strategies, you can help your teen emerge from puberty as a confident, well-adjusted young adult. Remember, the key to guiding your teen through this tumultuous period is a combination of love, patience, and open dialogue. Stay engaged, stay supportive, and trust in their resilience.

Suhasini, IP, is the Author of the book “Practical Tips for Kids Mental Health.” As a certified kids and parents life coach, she helps/guides you toward a happy family life for your kids. She firmly believes that “Emotionally Happy Kids of today are the Mentally Strong and Happy Citizens of tomorrow.” Let’s make the world a happy and beautiful place for our kids to thrive.

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  1. […] Here are some more tips to understand the emotional changes the children will go through during their puberty period. […]

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