31 Oct 2023

Five Ways to Wellbeing: Supporting Children’s Developmental Needs

In our recent Back-To-School Nights, Ms Dionne Lashley shared on aligning support with children’s developmental needs. This article feature is an extension of that conversation, and includes key resources for digging deeper, encouraging adults in these children’s lives to “keep learning” as teachers, parents and staff support teenagers through their developmental journey.

1. Identity Formation:
During this phase, you might notice your teenager seeing and describing themselves differently, exploring and shaping their identities, and experiencing changing values and beliefs. It can be challenging for parents to adapt to these shifts. Remember, this is part of their journey, and they have not reached their final destination. Encourage self-exploration, provide a supportive environment, and be curious about their evolving perspectives.

To dig deeper, we recommend reading “The Teenage Brain: A Neuroscientist’s Survival Guide to Raising Adolescents and Young Adults” by Frances E. Jensen.

2. Increased Independence:
Teenagers often seek autonomy and opportunities to make decisions. You might hear them say, “I want it my way.” It is essential to give them appropriate independence, offer choices, and allow them to make decisions. Additionally, assigning new responsibilities enables them to develop essential life skills. Mistakes should be viewed as learning experiences rather than failures.

For further reading, consider “Untangled: Guiding Teenage Girls Through the Seven Transitions into Adulthood” by Lisa Damour.

3. Peer Relationships:
Friends become even more important during adolescence, as teenagers seek acceptance and validation outside the family. Encourage social interactions, take the time to get to know their friends, and listen without judgment. Being available to provide guidance while setting necessary boundaries will foster healthy relationships.

To delve further into this topic, we recommend “Queen Bees and Wannabes: Helping Your Daughter Survive Cliques, Gossip, Boyfriends, and the New Realities of Girl World” by Rosalind Wiseman.

4. Emotional Intensity:
Teenagers often experience emotional extremes and mood swings. They might exhibit withdrawal or anger. Validating your child’s feelings while providing boundaries for expression is crucial. Help them develop healthy coping strategies to navigate these intense emotions. For additional insights, we suggest reading “The Angst of Adolescence: How to Parent Your Teen and Live to Laugh About It” by Sara Villanueva.

5. Academic Pressure:
Long study hours, late bedtimes, and anxiety about assessments and future outcomes are common during adolescence. Acknowledge their efforts without adding stress, encourage balance between academics and other activities, promote self-care, and affirm their value beyond academic achievement. To explore this topic further, “The Gift of Failure: How the Best Parents Learn to Let Go So Their Children Can Succeed” by Jessica Lahey is an excellent resource.

Supporting our teenagers’ developmental needs requires ongoing learning and adaptation. By understanding these changes, we can create a nurturing environment that promotes their overall wellbeing and growth.