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Just one question. How can parents help their teenagers deal with the conflicts of adolescence?

Despite being just one question, the complexity and scope of the answer is vast. It is a
question that parents all around the world grapple with, because the physical, mental, and
emotional changes that come with adolescence are dramatic, unpredictable, and swift. It is a
question that in many ways I do not feel qualified to answer, not only because I am still fairly
unfamiliar with adolescent development and psychology, and with parenting skills and strategies,
but because I am not a parent myselfI dont have the knowledge or experience to make strong
assertions or develop effective methods. What I do have is the new information I have learned
through the class meetings and textbook, my own experiences growing up as an adolescent
alongside my peers in public school, and watching and interacting with my three younger
brothers as they, too, experienced adolescence and sometimes came to me with questions and
issues. I will attempt to draw upon each of these limited resources as I answer the question to the
best of my ability.
A key concept regarding an adolescents development is their theory of intelligence:
whether it is the entity theory, the idea that intellectual ability is innate, a fixed quantity; or the
incremental theory, the idea that intelligence can be increased by effort, with attention and
practice (Berger, 2016, p. 343). This concept may, on the surface, appear to only apply to the
young persons educational and career goals, but it has major social and emotional implications
as well. When I was younger, I was told by both parents and educators that I was very intelligent
and gifted, and that I should naturally be excelling in academics. That expectation put a lot of
pressure on me; I felt that I had to perform in order to be valued. My performance was praised,
and sometimes mocked (Youre such a nerd!), by my peers, and I felt that I had to make

everything seem easy in order to maintain my status as a genius. I didnt feel motivated to
study for that reason, on top of feeling like I didnt need to. Later in life, after I graduated high
school and began attending college, I met other students who were quite bright. My classes
became more difficult and specific, and I wasnt able to attain high scores with the lazy ease I
once did. Instead of working and studying harder to improve, I felt powerless and hopeless to
deal with the increasing difficulty of my classes. The entity theory of intelligence that had been
instilled in me in my adolescent years continued to haunt me for years to come.
A primary conflict in an adolescents life is figuring out their self-identity. Am I smart?
Am I talented? How do I compare with my peers? What am I going to do with my life? Am I
stuck with what I have now or can things get better? At a time when there is so much uncertainty,
peer pressure, and mixed messages from culture and media, I think it is of the utmost importance
for parents to stress the incremental theory of intelligencethat their childs potential to grow
and develop is in their own control, and that it is not fixed from birth. Additionally, a parent who
is authoritative, who encourages independent thinking and decision-making, who discusses rules
and consequences rather than simply enforcing them, will hopefully facilitate the development of
a much more mature, logical, and independent adolescent. Sending the message of, Look, you
can do this. Were just here to support you. Youve got this, is both empowering and reassuring.
Parents only have so much time to invest in their adolescent childrenthey should make it
count.

Reference List

Berger, K. S. (2016). Invitation to the Life Span (3rd ed.). New York, NY: Worth Publishers.