Supporting your teen’s independence
Your young teen (12, 13 and 14) might only just have started puberty. Older teens (from ages 15 to 18) are on the way to maturing physically.
Alongside this physical growth come changes to how they think and feel.
When you encourage your teenager to build a strong sense of identity, it helps them become more confident.
It also supports their independence and protects their mental health and wellbeing.
Brain development in teenagers
The teenage years are a time of enormous change inside the brain.
These changes can affect your teen’s behaviour and the way they express and manage their emotions.
You can encourage behaviour that strengthens positive connections in your child’s brain.
Learn what’s going on in the teen brain in this video on the Spark their Future website.
Understand teenage brain development and find behaviour strategies on the Raising Children Network website.
Sense of self
A sense of self is about self-identity.
It relates to our perceptions of who we are and how we fit into the world based on our experiences and beliefs about ourselves.
Teenagers who have a strong sense of identity are better equipped to navigate school life, deal with peer pressure and face adversity.
You can foster your teen’s self-identity by reinforcing their positive qualities and strengths.
Find out more about self-identity in this article by Monash University.
Gender identity is a part of a person’s sense of self.
Some people don’t identify with the sex they were assigned at birth (for example, ‘male’ or ‘female’). They might choose to identify as:
- gender diverse
This is a natural part of human diversity.
In their teens, your child might start to reflect on how they identify.
It’s important to listen and provide support to any child or young person who might not identify with their assigned gender. This significantly protects their mental health and wellbeing.
Understand your role in supporting gender diverse young people on the headspace website.
Download a guide to supporting your trans, gender diverse or non-binary teen at school from the Transcend website.
Sex and sexuality
The teenage years are when young people start figuring out who they’re attracted to.
Many young people will experiment with sexual behaviour.
Talking about sex and sexuality with your child is a crucial step in helping them:
- make healthy choices about their own body
- develop respectful relationships.
Young people who identify as LGBTIQ+ often face discrimination, exclusion and prejudice. Sharing this part of themselves can be a stressful and uncertain time for young LGBTIQ+ people.
A supportive and inclusive environment at home, school and in the community is important to protect your teen’s mental health.
Find more information to understand sexual development on the Raising Children Network website.
Understand your role in supporting young LGBTIQ+ people on the headspace website.