Tips for Understanding and Adapting to the Teen Years

Key points

  • Between the ages of 11 and 17, your teenager will experience many physical and emotional changes as their brains and bodies grow.
  • Being a positive role model with a healthy relationship will help set up your teenager for success as a young adult.


Teens experience many changes as they prepare to become adults. Understanding what's happening in your teen's life and in your relationship with them can help you support your teen—and yourself—during this interesting, rewarding, and often challenging time.

Your teen's physical, emotional, and social changes

Between the ages of 11 and 17, your teen's body and brain are growing and changing in many ways. These physical and emotional changes may be associated with your teen feeling self-conscious or experiencing a range of emotions. Excitement may quickly change to frustration and sadness, and your teen may experience more than one emotion at the same time.

You'll also notice your teen going through social changes. Teens begin spending more time outside the home and with their friends. They may start dating and taking on new responsibilities, such as driving a car or working part-time.

How your relationship changes with your teen

Parenting also shifts as children become teens. You will go from actively managing and directing most aspects of your child's life to encouraging them to think for themselves and make good decisions. Instead of telling them how to solve a problem, you can ask questions and offer suggestions when they ask for your help.

Many parents feel a sense of loss or feel unappreciated when their teens spend less time with them. It's important to recognize that teens need space. Seeking independence is a normal part of growing up and becoming healthy and productive adults. While your relationship with your teen may be changing, it continues to be key to teens leading healthy and fulfilling lives.

Taking care of yourself and being a positive role model

Parenting teens often involves lots of energy and patience. Your teen may show strong emotions, sudden mood changes, and uncertainty about what they want to do. Taking the time to take care of your physical, emotional, and social needs will give you the resources you need to raise a teen. You can be a positive role model for your teen by taking care of yourself.

Try an activity‎

After watching the Understanding and Adapting to the Teen Years video and reading the information on this webpage, explore the activities from the Understanding and Adapting to the Teen Years worksheet. Print it, write on it, type notes on your phone, or just take a few moments to quietly reflect on the questions.