The long journey of adolescence becomes more manageable for all parties when we see it as slow and unique to each person. This helps parents and caregivers know when to worry and when to relax, when to explain and when to stay quiet, and when to hold tight and when to let go.
Jess P. Shatkin, MD, MPH, professor in the Departments of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry and Pediatrics and vice chair of education at the Child Study Center within Hassenfeld Children’s Hospital at NYU Langone, tells CNN Health about early and late bloomers and emotional red flags for parents to look out for during stages of puberty.
“Adolescence is filled with ups and downs. These could be of concern when they come along with abrupt behavior changes,” says Dr. Shatkin. “If kids suddenly sleep more or less, are anxious, depressed, appear to be using drugs, grades drop, or have fallen out with all their friends, then the red flag has been raised. This is a good time to ask questions and possibly seek professional help.”
For more common upheavals, like fights with friends or a struggle with a coach, parents should offer support but not solutions. “Have curiosity, but don’t clean up their mess,” adds Dr. Shatkin. “What confuses parents is they see their role as a friend and a protector. But you are not there to make your kids happy all the time.”
Read more from CNN Health.