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Care Stages: How Does My Teenager Grow? Ages 13-18

Lisa Tabachnick
April 18, 2009

Issues you will encounter when your child becomes a teen

The teen years are full of discovery about bodies, emerging personalities and life. Whether your teenager is athletic, musical, shy, confident, or comprises a mix of many characteristics, it's important to be aware of the normal developments that come about in 13- to 18-year-olds.

Puberty

Your child will learn about expected body changes from friends and in school, but it's important to keep the lines of communication open. Let your teens know that you'll listen to any problem or concern without judging them.

Part-time jobs

Most teenagers find a part-time job to pay for clothing, movies, or college. Make sure you, your partner, and teen are aware of workplace safety laws via the government's Youth Worker Safety & Healthy information.

Drugs

  • According to NIDA (the National Institute on Drug Abuse), illicit drugs are used by 23% of the 12th grade student population.
  • If you detect a problem, you can call the National Clearinghouse for Drug and Alcohol Information at HIDDEN for pamphlets and information.
  • To discourage drug use, talk to your teen, know who her friends are, be aware of where she's going, who she's hanging out with, and be available to listen.
  • It's important to speak to your teen in a calm and loving manner. Explain why you feel he might have a drug or alcohol problem and define clear house rules and expectations.

Dating

  • During or after puberty, your teens may suddenly become interested in the opposite (or same) sex. They may even want to go on dates, ask someone to the prom, or head to the movies with a new crush.
  • By establishing firm rules -- where she can and cannot go,what time she needs to be home, to always treat her date with respect and to respect herself-- you can help your teen's dating years get off to a great start.

Sleep

  • Sleep may be a big issue at this age. Some parents worry that their teen spends too much time sleeping. Others believe that their child doesn't sleep enough. According to KidsHealth.org, teens actually need 8 to 9.5 hours of sleep each night. Without enough shut-eye, your teen's health could suffer. Try to ensure she hits the sack and gets the required amount of sleep as often as possible.

College Bound

  • Of course, the pressure to get into college mounts as teens get older. Volunteering and applying for college can lead to stress and have subsequent physical or psychological effects.
  • In most cases, teens need to be reminded that doing their best is all they can do; it doesn't help to push your teenager to the breaking point.
  • Help your child by researching the best colleges for her, breaking down application tasks, and talking to her about her hopes and fears for college.
  • If money is an issue, remind your teen that there are several part-time jobs available on college campuses. Care.com has the College Caregivers section that helps local communities find tutors, babysitters, nannies and pet care providers at nearby college campuses. The college may also have other opportunities so look into all the different jobs available prior to your teen settling down on campus.
Lisa Tabachnick Hotta is the mother of two young children and a freelance writer, editor and researcher.

* This article is for general informational purposes only. It is not intended nor implied to be providing medical advice and is not a substitute for such advice. The reader should always consult a health care provider concerning any medical condition or treatment plan.  Neither Care.com nor the author assumes any responsibility or liability with respect to use of any information contained herein.

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