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Adolescence: keys for parent-adolescent relationship

 La Adolescencia Y Las Claves Para La Relación Padres Y Adolescentes

Children grow slowly and steadily during the early years until one day the parents realise that their offspring has hit a growth surge, and is no longer a child or adult.  He/she is an adolescent.  

Adolescence is a complex phase that begins between 11 and 14 years of age. It includes a challenge for the adolescent, who no longer has a child’s body, and for the parents, who have to transform the way they relate to their child.  Both parties have to develop new physical and psychological processes.

etapa conlleva un duelo. Duelo para el adolescentendoa su cuerpo de niño y This noticeable growth marks a before and an after.  Everything starts to alter rapidly.  Hormonal changes cause remarkable body developments.  Their way of thinking, speaking, perceiving, feeling and understanding reality also alters.  Sexuality emerges forcefully and the adolescent begins to want more autonomy, and has his/her own ideas.

Adolescence involves an emotional earthquake for both parents and teenager.   Understanding one another becomes a problem.  The adolescent attempts to make changes by imposing and discussing opinions, and by rebelling.

Being a teenager brings uncertainty regarding their own future and fear of making their own decisions.  They declare their independence, rejecting their parents, while also needing their authority.  These contradictions are normal during this phase.

This is a painful period of interchange, with mood swings and friction in relationships with parents.  It is also a creative period of personal search.

During this phase many aspects of the adolescent’s future life are “gambled”.  It is a time of crucial importance.  The child will need to be separated from the parents in order to become the person he/she want to be, and this is sometimes difficult for parents to accept.

Useful tips

Parents should “remember” that they also went through the phase that their child is experiencing.  Living with teenagers can be complicated.  It is important to have clear ideas regarding the following:

  • Teenagers need their parents.  They do not need to be their friends or colleagues.  It is important not to mix the roles.  This would be very damaging for the teenager and could lead to serious confusion when setting and accepting limits. 
  • The way they relate to one another starts to change. Both sides negotiate, and both sides “win”.  A teenager can neither be spoken to nor treated as a child.
  • They must be educated in a responsible manner.  Teenagers must be responsible for their actions.  This is not punishment, but a consequence.
  • Certain limits should always be obeyed.  Do not allow any lack of respect.
  • Given the impulsive behaviour of adolescents, an environment should be created where they can speak openly about emotions, rather than acting them.

When children start to go through the conflicts of adolescence, parents sometimes forget their own emotional history of this period, but if they want their children to become adults like themselves, they should understand that they are probably only rebelling in the same way that they themselves did at that stage.

Warning signs

Difficult times can arise during this period.  It is good to observe and be nearby when something different surprises you.  There are certain adolescent attitudes that should warn parents, and solutions must be found.

  • Lack of respect
  • Aggressive behaviour
  • Continuous defiant attitudes
  • Academic failure
  • Addiction to games and social networks
  • Excessive shyness. Submission. Fear
  • Alcohol consumption
  • Proximity to drugs
  • Fanaticism

Adolescence is a critical period of rebellion, which is caused by becoming an adult.



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