Pre-Teens and Teens
Pre-teens and teens are waking up to themselves and the world. As pre-teens they take their first steps down the paths of self-exploration and identity formation. This process deepens as they move into their teenage years. It is dramatic, intense, and enlightening. It also tends to be one of the harder periods of life—for parents, too!
Pre-teens are about to embark upon an explosive period of physical and emotional growth, which can be a tremendous challenge for young people to handle. You may find that they’re acting younger than their given age one day, and older the next. They may present an inauthentic version of themselves to their peers and family due to peer pressure or fears of judgement, rejection, or shame. Pre-teens may experience depressed moods, anxiety, low self-esteem, or academic struggles. Family conflict or drama with friends may be at an all-time high, and increasing by the day.
Teens tend to explore and define their identity a bit more explicitly. They’re grappling with the changes and challenges of adolescence while trying to figure out who they are and how they fit within their social community. They may be seeking to affirm their gender identity, sexual orientation, or racial identity. Teens are on the cusp of adulthood, and some respond to this by catapulting themselves into independence, while others react by avoiding self-reliance at all costs. They may be inclined to discount their intuition in favor of a thrill. Self-harm, suicidal thoughts, isolation, conflict, risky sexual behaviors, or substance use may be of concern. At times they may seem like a sovereign nation unto themselves—while at other times they’re the same goofy kids you used to know so well.
In addition, teens and pre-teens may also be grappling with any of the following:
Fighting with peers or family
Fear or anxiety about the future
Academic struggles, including anxiety or school avoidance
Striving for perfection or conformity
Stomachaches, headaches, or other body-based complaints
Suicidal ideation or attempts