Come on! We'll all skip Maths! Who wants to write that test? We'd rather walk and eat something. Let's go! - says your classmate. Sounds familiar? Will you do the right thing and do Maths test? Or, will you accept your peers' suggestion and skip the class?
If you are 12, 13 or more, we believe this text will be interesting for you and that you will get some answers to your questions, e.g. ‘why is this happening to me?’
You know that around your 12th year of age a new developmental period is starting. Some call it puberty, some adolescence. They seemingly denote the same phenomenon, but there is a difference between the two. Puberty as a word denotes biological, i.e. anatomical and physiological changes which start at the beginning of the second decade of human life and end with sexual maturity and ability to give offspring. Adolescence is marked by psychological changes accompanying physical development in the period of puberty. Adolescence starts with the start of puberty and ends with formed identity.
You can notice puberty, i.e. anatomical and physiological changes daily by looking in the mirror or listening to your friends’ commentaries. Adolescence is more complicated. We will try to describe it in a few sentences.
Adolescence is a period of development in which a person establishes a balance between childhood and maturity. It is a period of, sometimes called, self-upbringing, when a young person declines authority, refuses to be controlled by parents and gets closer to peers. Adolescence is the time of rebellion, probing boundaries, sudden change of mood, internal conflicts and conflicts with others. However, if the youth refuse parents’ control, it does not mean that their relationship with parents is less important. That relationship is simply changing, becoming different.
Developmental tasks imposed to a young girl or boy refer to the acceptance of a changed physical appearance, acquisition of a gender role, achievement of independence from parents, acceptance of societal values, acquisition of one’s own set of values and ethical principles to follow in life. Changes in these areas are in progress throughout life, but they are most manifest in adolescence. They are extremely important for a person’s development in order to successfully complete the process and to adapt to all the roles associated with adulthood. Such changes cause considerable confusion in adolescents and in all around them.
Still, everything is not that scary.
Here are a few simple suggestions about how to more easily stand up for yourself in front of adults around you, primarily in front of your parents:
- Every behavior leads to certain consequences, and with the more rights you require, the more responsibilities will follow. Therefore, have this in mind when you break rules, like the rule at school ‘take off your cap’, or when your parents say ‘come home till 9’. Negotiate with your parents in which areas you can make decisions independently, but be prepared to bear the consequences of your decisions.
- Parents give advice because they feel they still need to teach you and they want to have a major role in your life. Naturally, some of the advice seem unnecessary to you, it seems you have already heard them many times. You may sometimes feel that you know better. It leads to a conflict. Try not to argue. Try to debate, stand up for yourself and your attitude with arguments. Separation (read ‘growing up’) is not easy for you nor for your parents.
- Self confidence is fragile, sometimes in an adult, too. Adults make mistakes, too, especially if they do not know what to do in some situation. If your parent criticises or is rude to you for some reason, say openly that it hurts. Returning the rude words or slamming doors will only increase your pain, and your parent will get proof that you are ‘rude and cheeky’ and the conflict will become more serious. Self-confidence means how we are feeling related to what we think we are.
- In this period, as never before, you will be developing a strong feeling for honesty and justice. It is not easy when others do not feel the same. Do not judge your parents or your peers if they do not know what ‘fair’ in your scale of values means. Explain it to them.
- Tell the truth. It surely happens that sometimes, for some reason you tell lies. It may be when you want to avoid being tested, e.g. biology which you have not learned enough, or when you tell your parents that your cigarettes are your friend’s, or when you lie to your friends in order to be accepted by them. Consequences of these situations may be difficult for you. Therefore, try to control the need to tell lies and tell the truth. Lying is behaviour acquired by social learning, it is not an inborn trait.
- If you react rapturously, apologise. This probably sounds simple, but it is not always simple. There are ways how to react honestly without hurting other people. You have the right to be sad, you have the right to be angry. You have the right to tell others that you are sad or angry. You have the right to all your feelings. However, try to think about what you do when you are feeling like that. Others are not hurt by our feelings. They are hurt by what we do then.
- Ask for support if you need it. If it feels difficult, think about what might help you. What helps some people is talking with friends, parents or some other adult they trust. Some like to do something they are good at, something they feel good doing. What are your ‘aides’? Remember them, look for them, it is not easy to solve problems alone.