When you have kids, each stage of their development brings with it certain challenges. However, there are some stages which offer more challenges than others; adolescence being one of them. Although some of their behaviours may be concerning to you – especially when you start to notice change – you need to keep in mind that considering the developmental stage they would be in, some of their behaviours might be normal. According to Erik Erikson’s theory of psychosocial development, individuals go through the stage of identity vs role confusion during adolescence. During this stage, they want to move away from being a child and develop their identity. Thus, whilst they are still dependant on their parents, they want to move away from that and develop into independent beings. This is why suddenly you may feel that your teen doesn’t want to talk to you anymore. 

Teens can present with conflicting behaviour where they show you that they want their own space, so they push you away, but need you at the same time. It may be tricky for you to approach the situation as you want to respect their privacy but at the same time you still want to be involved in their life. You may notice that previously, your teen used to be very close to you, telling you everything that was going in their life. Now, they barely say anything to you. Understand that at this stage it is very normal for them to start talking to their friends more than they do with their parents. Try to find some quality time to spend together where you offer your teen space to open up if they want to, however, try not to push them. You can start by disclosing something yourself first to encourage that open communication between the two of you. 

You may also notice that your teen has become snappier with you whilst they are very sweet with their friends. This kind of behaviour may be upsetting for you nonetheless, even though this is expected to happen at their age. Let them know that you understand that they want to spend more time with their friends. At the same time, you still would like to receive respect from them and to be more mindful of how they talk to you. Also, try to get to know their friends so that you can put your mind at rest as to who they are frequenting. Tell them that they can invite their friends over as this will provide you with the opportunity to meet their friends. 

If your teen is spending more time locked up in their room, this is also expected to happen. Teens like to spend their time chatting with peers or playing online with them. However, if you notice that your teen is blocking peers as well and not only you, try and find out if there is anything going on with them, such as bullying. If you are concerned about their behaviour, you can also seek professional help to understand how to support your teen better.

If you think that you can benefit from professional support on this issue you can reach out here.

Dr Marilyn Muscat is registered as an Educational Psychologist with the Health and Care Professions Council in the United Kingdom where she trained. She works with children, adolescents and their families to understand more about educational, social and emotional well-being concerns that they have and to help them improve upon their difficulties. She can be contacted on marilyn@willingness.com.mt or call us on 79291817.