Many parents believe their teen’s social development happens as a matter of course, on a schedule set forth by human nature and physical growth.
Although this hands-off approach can work well enough in some cases, some adolescents and teens could use some help along the way.
If your daughter’s social development becomes disrupted or doesn’t proceed normally, especially in the formative adolescent and teenage years, it can literally affect your child’s life and potential for future success and happiness.
A Shift in Social Focus
Until adolescence, the focus of children’s social activities is typically the family and a few close friends. During the next phase, that focus shifts away from the family and to peer groups and romantic interests, which begin to take center stage.
This stage can be difficult for parents, especially with daughters, as they may feel that their child is pulling away from them. The opposite is true, however.
In fact, children depend on the close bonds of the familial relationship, even if they spend more time away from home.
Parents and caregivers must encourage young women to establish positive peer relationships. This stage of development will contribute to your child’s sense of identity and help her understand how she fits into the world.
Adventure, Experimentation and Choices
As your child transitions from elementary school to middle and high school, she will face many new experiences and more than a few difficult choices.
Adventure and risk-taking are hallmarks of adolescence and the teen years, and an important part of your child’s social development. The decisions they make ― right or wrong ― teach them about accountability and consequences.
Parents must learn to trust their children and their own role in having raised a child who is capable of making the right choices. An overly restrictive environment can compromise this delicate time of social growth and lead to a backlash of undesirable behavior.
Helping Your Teen Develop Healthy Self-Esteem
You can help your pre-teen or teenage daughter by encouraging her and acknowledging good behavior as emphatically as bad behavior.
Help your child learn to make sound decisions by giving her responsibilities and choices befitting her age and maturity level. Clearly explain the consequences for breaking the rules and hold her accountable for her actions. But be sure to praise and appreciate her positive growth.
It’s important to trust your teen and allow her to make mistakes. Rather than punish harshly with shame and criticism, use positive reinforcement techniques to reward her good behavior.
At Havenwood Academy, we understand that even normal, healthy girls can struggle with issues of self-esteem and emotional upheaval. Our experiential approach to therapeutic treatment uses equine therapy and other proven techniques that work especially well for girls and young women.
Contact us today if you have concerns about your teen’s emotional health, self-esteem or social development.