By Vanessa Rasmussen, © 2004, All rights reserved.

Adolescence may be defined as the period within the life span when most of a person's biological, cognitive, psychological, and social characteristics are changing, from what is typically considered child-like to what is considered adult-like. As children grow, develop, and move into early adolescence, involvement with one's peers and the attraction of peer identification increases. As pre-adolescents begin rapid physical, emotional and social changes, they start to question adult standards and the need for parental guidance. They find it reassuring to turn to friends who understand and sympathize, for advice - friends who are in the same position themselves.

Parents of adolescents belong to either of the following categories:

  • Authoritative: parents belonging to this category provide parental warmth, use rules and reasoning to promote obedience and keep discipline, impart non-punitive punishment (e.g., using "time out" or "grounding" instead of physical punishment), and maintain consistency between statements and actions and across time.
  • Authoritarian: Such parents are not warm and believe in strict enforcement of rules. They emphasize their authority and power and give physical punishment for misconduct or disobedience.
  • Indulgent: Such parents do not show consistency in their use of rules. They are excessively lenient towards their children. Almost always, they provide their children with anything they want, irrespective of whether they need it or not.
  • Neglectful: Such parents do not show any interest in finding out what their teen is up to. They are involved in their own world and do not bother to communicate with their teen

Adolescents with authoritative parents have more social competence and fewer psychological and behavioral problems than youth with authoritarian, indulgent, or neglectful parents. They achieve higher school grades, are more self reliant, less anxious and depressed, and less likely to engage in reckless behavior.

All adolescents have some issues that may incessantly bother them. Some of most common concerns identified by adolescents include, conflicts with parents, conflicts with siblings, concerns about peers and peer relationships, concerns about school and in today's world, concerns about their physical safety. Parents need to show considerable responsibility in handling children at such a phase.

Some tips for parents to handle their adolescents:

  • Be warm and loving.
  • Do not show hostility towards your teen. If your teen's social circle, academic progress or attitude is not acceptable to you, do not be aggressive in your approach. Talk and listen to your teen and provide solutions in a friendly manner.
  • Be non-intrusive. Your teen will be highly protective about his/her privacy. Respect that, but be well-informed about your teen's routine.
  • Talk to them and educate them about peer pressure, physical and hormonal changes, sex and substance abuse.

Copyright 2001, 2004. All rights reserved. Any reproduction of this article in whole or in part without written or verbal permission is strictly prohibited. For information about reprinting this article, contact the copyright owner: Vanessa Rasmussen, Ph.D, Starting a Day Care Center,