Ages and Stages 15-17 years of age

Children grow and change every year.  This piece, written by the experts at Open Doors, is meant to help map out what to expect,   and suggest ways to help them thrive  as they meet new challenges mentally, physically , emotionally and socially.

ages15-17

How Their Minds Are Growing

Youth brains are undergoing major renovation, guided by  a “use it or lose it” principle.  Pathways in the brain that are not used begin to close up.  It is very important that  the brains of our youth are challenged.  Dr. Jay Geidd, neuroscientist observes; “you are hard-wiring your brain in adolescence.  Do you want to hard wire it for sports and playing music and math  – or for lying on the couch in front of the television?”

The teen mind takes seriously the process of thinking issues put in front of it, but their choice making is also more influenced by the part of the brain that is stimulated by risk or pleasure.  That is why they sometimes seem to make questionable judgment calls from an adult perspective.

How Their Bodies Are Growing

At this time most females have completed the physical changes related to puberty.  Many find themselves dissatisfied with the natural increase in body fat that occurs post-puberty, and are self-critical of their bodies and appearance.

Males are still maturing physically by gaining muscle mass, strength, and height. They are also completing the development of their sexual traits.  Boys who are slower to develop or are less athletic are sometimes self-critical.

Youth are aware of their sexuality  and  may have questions related to their sexual orientation.

How Their Social And Emotional Selves Are Growing

Parents often report that this is a time with less conflict than in early adolescence, but also that they spend much less time together.   The challenging world of their peers, and a desire to form more complex and intimate relationships with peers, takes up a great deal of their time and energy.   This is part of their preparation for independence and preparing  for their future when they leave home to live on their own.

Youth are eager to form their own judgements and show independence as they define their own identity and values.  When they seek advice, it is often from people outside of the family.

Looking After Their Mental Health

Support your child’s growing independence and identity .  Take your youth’s opinions and concerns seriously; listen first and offer advice respectfully.

Encourage activities that help identify future goals—both recreational and vocational.

Negotiate together what level of structure will help your youth meet their goals— (i.e. school , curfew, dating, etc.).  Agree to consequences in advance and  stick to them.

Notice if moodiness or mood changes persist for more than a few weeks.  Help your youth identify if their mental health is at risk, and support them in seeking help.

At this age, alcohol and drug use negatively affects mental development and can impair social development.  Avoid being too casual  about its use in teen years.   Model responsible behaviour.  Offer support and strategize  to manage the pressures and impact of this issue on their lives.

Remain open and supportive of your child as they discover their sexuality and  sexual orientation.

With every new stage in a child’s life, we have to rethink our approach to parenting, so we help our children and ourselves master new challenges.  At Open Doors, we can help you make sure you get advice and support to help your family thrive through all stages of growth and change.

Here’s how to get in touch with us:
 
Carleton Place Office
40 Bennett Street
613-257-8260
 
Perth Office
(By appointment only)
613-264-1415
 
Smiths Falls Office
88 Cornelia Street W.
613-283-8260
 
Toll Free
1-877-232-8260
 
www.opendoors.on.ca

Ages and Stages 12-14 years of age

Children grow and change every year.  This piece, written by the experts at Open Doors,  is meant to help map out what to expect,   and suggest ways to help them thrive  as they meet new challenges mentally, physically , emotionally and socially.

ages 12-14

How Their Minds Are Growing

Teen brains are brains under intensive construction.  The brain is busy sorting through the information it has collected and deciding what it will need in the future.  12-14 year olds have increased ability to reason and take great pleasure in these skills. They enjoy considering questions about meaning and purpose.   Moral reasoning  skills change too. Where once it was all about “fairness”, it now starts to be about “context”.

12-14 year olds often find their internal clock (their circadian rhythm) is “out of sync” with their school and homework schedule.  Mornings can be hard to get through!

How Their Bodies Are Growing.

Early adolescence is a time of enormous body changes. Boys begin to grow facial hair, pubic hair, and their voices start to deepen.

Girls begin to develop breasts, wider hips, pubic hair, and most will start menstruating during this time.   Many will experience a major growth spurt, and arrive at their adult height.

Both males and females are concerned with these changes and are worried of how others see them.

How Their Social And Emotional Selves Are Growing

Young Teens begin to spend a great deal of time thinking about their own identity and how they are seen by others.  They worry about their body image, clothes, and their looks. They sometimes think that everyone else looks at them with the same intense self-critical way they look at themselves, and this can lead to feelings of pressure, and stress.  They can seem moody towards others, especially their parents or caregivers. They may express less affection for their parents or caregiver, even though they still need their parents positive attention and support.  They also begin to place more importance on their social relationships and judge themselves by their relationships with their peers.

Looking After Their Mental Health

Your appreciation and listening ear are very important to your 12-14 year old, even though they may not tell you so.  Show confidence in their abilities, and be open to  their ideas.  This lets them know you are respectful of their increasing maturity.

Be patient.  This can be a high conflict time, so choose battles wisely.  Work with your youth to set and maintain reasonable limits.

Watch for signs of withdrawal or avoidance – from school, time with friends, preferred recreation activities, or from family.  Address your concerns directly and seek support when needed.

Watch for signs of body dissatisfaction with both boys and girls.  Provide information that can help them learn about body changes.

Seek mental health supports when you worry that your young teen is losing the struggle to maintain a healthy sense of self.

Some young teens will feel depressed or anxious in the face of new challenges.    Some of these feelings are normal, but watch for whether they persist for more than a month, without obvious situational stressors.  Sometimes use of drugs or alcohol can be a sign that a young person is trying to manage mental health difficulties on their own.

With every new stage in a child’s life, we have to rethink our approach to parenting, so we help our children and ourselves master new challenges.  At Open Doors, we can help you make sure you get advice and support to help your family thrive through all stages of growth and change. 

Here’s how to get in touch with us:

Carleton Place Office
40 Bennett Street
613-257-8260
 
Perth Office
(By appointment only)
613-264-1415
 
Smiths Falls Office
88 Cornelia Street W.
613-283-8260
 
Toll Free
1-877-232-8260
 
www.opendoors.on.ca

Ages and Stages 9-11 Years of Age

Children grow and change every year.  This piece, written by the experts at Open Doors,  is meant to help map out what to expect,   and suggest ways to help them thrive  as they meet new challenges mentally, physically, emotionally and socially.

ages9-11

 How Their Minds Are Growing

Nine to eleven year olds are building their abstract thinking skills and enjoy reasoning.  This will often emerge when you are arguing with them about rules and expectations.

Many are able to organize and plan more effectively, they are proud of this ability, and look for opportunities to use it in their everyday life. 

They begin to imagine their future, and what they may become or do.

They have a sense of what is fair and what is needed to make groups and group activities work smoothly. 

They enjoy complexity in games and verbal exchanges.

They show empathy, and build loyal friendships with peers. 

How Their Bodies Are Growing

Girls are generally as much as two years ahead of boys in physical maturity, and a few may begin to menstruate.  This can cause great unease and deserves a parent’s calm and quiet care and support.

How Their Social And Emotional Selves Are Growing

At this age, kids begin to see that parents and authority figures can make mistakes, too. They sometimes use this awareness in arguments, simply a part of developing autonomy and sense of worth. We can help by respecting their opinions.

Romantic interest is often shown through teasing, but social groups and friends become increasingly important.

Looking After Their Mental Health

At this age, behaviour is still the main way that your child will communicate  any distress.  Look for connections. 

9-11 year olds feel discomfort if they sense criticism from peers.  Watch for withdrawal from groups or loss of interest in activities. 

Children (especially boys) who struggle at school may feel discouraged and decide school is not for them. Watch for learning problems that need attention. 

Girls who enter puberty at this age feel vulnerable and may not have social supports to help them manage. They need extra support, and to be treated according to their real age— adults must remember they are still kids at heart. 

Children who seem to be worriers, or have a lot of fears are now at an age where they can build skills that help them challenge and tame those worries. 

With every new stage in a child’s life, we have to rethink our approach to parenting, so we help our children and ourselves master new challenges.  At Open Doors, we can help you make sure you get advice and support to help your family thrive through all stages of growth and change. 

Here’s how to get in touch with us:
 
Carleton Place Office
40 Bennett Street
613-257-8260
 
Perth Office
(By appointment only)
613-264-1415
 
Smiths Falls Office
88 Cornelia Street W.
613-283-8260
 
Toll Free
1-877-232-8260
 
www.opendoors.on.ca

Ages and Stages 6-8 years of age

Children grow and change every year. This piece, written by the experts at Open Doors,  is meant to help map out what to expect, and suggest ways to help them thrive as they meet new challenges mentally, physically, emotionally and socially. 

age6-8

How Their Minds Are Growing

Children at this age use a vocabulary of several thousand words and can converse at an almost adult level. They seek to understand the reasons for things and uses serious, organized logical thinking. They are able to understand reasoning and make the right decisions.

They are able to solve more complex problems and their individual learning style becomes more clear-cut. They begin to recognize the concept of reversibility (4+2=6 and 6-2=4). They are able to demonstrate a longer attention span.

They begin to feel competent in skills and have preferences for some activities and subjects. You will notice remarkable changes in social and thinking skills. Your child is now building on the base of skills developed during early childhood and moving toward greater independence, both intellectually and emotionally. 

 How Their Bodies are Growing

During grades 1 through 3, you won’t see dramatic changes in your child’s motor skills because this is a period of refinement, when coordination improves and fine motor skills are sharpened.  

 How Their Social And Emotional Selves Are Growing

This is a critical time for children to develop confidence in all areas of life, such as through friends, sports and schoolwork.

They have a strong need for love and understanding. They can be helpful, cheerful, and pleasant as well as rude, bossy, and selfish. They may be quite sensitive overly dramatic prone to worry about rejection or sense of place with peers. Their emotions may change quickly becoming impatient or showing self doubt. They can find waiting for special events to be torturous.

They can make friends easily, developing close friends of the same sex. They favour group play, clubs and team sports; wanting to feel part of a group. They are more influenced by peer pressure. They can be obsessed with and motivated by money.

Looking After Their Mental Health

This is a time of fragile self-esteem, so offer frequent encouragement and positive feedback. Help ease the tendency for self-criticism by stressing what they learned rather than how the final product looks.

Be patient and understanding of volatile emotions and moods. 

Provide opportunities for independent decision-making. Take advantage of their eagerness to learn by asking open-ended, thought provoking questions, doing puzzles and playing thinking games.

Your child has a strong need to belong; talk to them about peer pressure.

Take advantage of their interest in money to teach about costs and the importance of saving towards a goal.

 With every new stage in a child’s life, we have to rethink our approach to parenting, so we help our children and ourselves master new challenges.  At Open Doors, we can help you make sure you get advice and support to help your family thrive through all stages of growth and change.

 

Here’s how to get in touch with us: 

Carleton Place Office
40 Bennett Street
613-257-8260
 
Perth Office
40 Sunset Blvd, Suite 123
613-264-1415
 
Smiths Falls Office
88 Cornelia Street W.
613-283-8260
 
Toll Free
1-877-232-8260
 
www.opendoors.on.ca