Red Deer's Child MagazineRed Deer’s Child Magazine is published by Wendy Mueller for Gryphon Publishing, publisher of Edmonton’s Child and Urban Infant, and edited by Keri Leland. Established in 2010, Red Deer’s Child Magazine is recognized by the families of Red Deer and the surrounding communities, as well as caregivers, educators, health care professionals, and local media, as the source for information about all things family – including classes, programs, activities and support for families in the area. Each issue includes a local monthly calendar of events and coverage of local issues written with an understanding of what Red Deer and area parents are looking for – whether they are expecting their first child or are on the verge of empty-nesting.

Published seven times per year, (six regular issues plus an annual resource guide), Red Deer’s Child Magazine is a source for information about issues, classes, activities and support for families in Red Deer and north central Alberta communities.

Regular columns and features include: Food, Community, Family Matters, Education, Calendar of Events, Parenting Classes and Support, creaturesall and la section francophone. Each family makes their own decisions based on their own values. We celebrate that independence and share information available in and from our locale. Red Deer’s Child Magazine is about teaming up and generating ideas for families at a local level.

Each issue also features one of their highly anticipated and well-loved guides; these include our Back to School & Classes and Programs (Fall and Winter), New Baby & Pampering Parents, Health & Wellness, Preschool, Camp (Parts I and II) Birthday Parties (Summer and Winter) and Travel & Tourism guides.

Here’s an article from the September/October 2012 issue of Red Deer’s Child Magazine reprinted with permission of the publisher:

Welcome to Planet High School by Dr. Ted Phelan

teenagers

 

One of the toughest parts of being the parent of a teenager is trying to figure out which aspects of your kids’ behaviour are trouble and which are normal. Some days, it seems that most of what teens do is strange, aggravating and worlds apart from the way they used to be. Whatever happened to that easy-going nine-year-old whom I used to enjoy so much?

Below is a list of characteristics you can reasonably expect to see in your normal, average teenager. Anticipating these can help to tell you that these new traits are not necessarily dangerous. Second, knowing what’s normal can allow you not to take these qualities personally—as if they were your fault, or as if they represented some kind of personal rejection. Finally, memorizing this list will get you to work on one of the primary jobs of the parent of an adolescent: toleration of nonessential differences.

Change
Adolescence is a time of massive, multiple changes. Some of these changes take years, while others seem to occur almost overnight. Some changes are exciting, while others may be bewildering or even upsetting for teens and parents alike. Physically the body of an adolescent will change more than it will at any other time of life except infancy. From the beginning to the end of puberty, adolescents on the average add 10 inches in height and 40 pounds in weight.

The growth spurt for girls begins around age 11, on the average, and is completed by age 16. Girls’ hips broaden relative to their shoulders and waist, and they tend to add more fat on their arms, legs and torso.

The growth spurt for boys starts around age 13 and continues until about age 17 1/2. Boys’ shoulders broaden relative to their waists, and they develop larger skeletal muscles while decreasing arm and leg fat.

During puberty the sex hormones start to do their thing. This means that perspiration, oiliness of the skin and hair, and body odor all increase. Sex hormones also see to it that primary and secondary sexual characteristics develop. Teens do not always greet these physical events with enthusiasm.

Girls react to the arrival of their first period with surprise and mixed emotions which depend, in part, upon how much support they receive from family members and how much prior information they have.

Boys usually have more advance information before they experience their first ejaculation, but in general they receive less support for the physical changes of puberty than do girls.

While the physical changes mentioned above take a few years, it may seem to parents that some of the other changes occur overnight. One day, the child’s bedroom door shuts and stays shut. During one summer month the youngster seems to have become glued to a new set of friends, and suddenly he could care less about family affairs.

Weirdness
Make no bones about it. Teenagers are weird! They love weirdness, shock value, strange sounds, colours and clothes. Being different—from adults, not from each other—becomes an important goal in their daily activities. Forging an identity does not mean\ slavish imitation of your own mother or father.

Distance
Parents will find that their teens are becoming more and more distant from them, both physically and emotionally. The child doesn’t want to eat dinner with the family as often as before. She is less interested in going out with you as well, whether it’s for dinner, to a movie or for family get-togethers.

Privacy becomes more important to the adolescent. Her door is now shut more of the time, and you’re left wondering what’s going on in there that wasn’t before. It’s certainly not all homework. The meanderings of younger brothers or sisters into your teenage daughter’s bedroom may be met with bursts of temper and demands to be left alone.

Communication also isn’t the same. Where you used to sit around and shoot the breeze after dinner, now the kid is gone without having said hardly anything. It doesn’t seem she tells you as much as before about things that bother—or excite— her, though she appears to be able to talk on the phone for hours with friends. Innocent questions, such as “How was your day?” are often met with an attitude of irritation or suspicion, as if you were unjustly prying into her affairs.

Your daughter is showing more and more independence. For one thing, she is simply not home as much as before. It’s nice she has a job, but between that and her friends, you hardly ever see her. Your suggestion that the two of you go out shopping for clothes met with an icy stare. Now she’d rather do that on her own.

Peers
Your child’s social focus has shifted dramatically away from home and toward friends. During his spare time he wants to go out with his buddies. He seems to have little time for family, or for you, or for doing what he’s supposed to around the house. Essential tasks like cutting the grass don’t get done, but there seems to be plenty of time for frivolous encounters with friends. Half of these kids you haven’t even met, and some of those you have met you’re not at all sure you like.
When a relationship with the opposite sex develops, it is positively obsessive. Long and extremely private conversations on the phone are followed by starry-eyed wonder or unexplained moodiness. The question, “Is there something wrong?” inspires a snarl and a not-too-gentle hint that you should mind your own business. When—God forbid—a romantic relationship ends—after months of breakups and tearful reunions, you find yourself unable to sleep at night, worrying about depression and suicidal potential.

Inexperience
The teenage years are a time of great excitement as well as great turmoil. Part of the excitement comes from what the teen sees as the unlimited possibilities ahead. The mind of the adolescent, therefore, is occupied with more dreams than experience. The dreams are endless and—in a sense—they are always instantly available in one’s fantasies. On the other hand, the dreams are not realities yet, and this yields an often painful sense of inferiority and lack of identity.  The career that may come does not exist and may not even be chosen; the family (spouse and kids) one may create later is not here now.

The result is that adolescents spend a lot of time in fantasy. Their whole life is before them, and they like to dream about what it will be like. The psychological pain that may result from the current lack of fulfillment can be partially managed by such daydreaming. Teens also have not had a lot of experience yet in testing these dreams out against reality, so many of their notions may seem crazy to their parents. The inexperience of adolescents, however, does not mean that teens have no opinions about anything!

Self-Consciousness
Younger adolescents become extremely focused on their own thoughts, feelings and activities. In fact, some writers have pointed out that it’s almost as if the child feels she is constantly on stage in front of some imaginary audience. She may feel that her own experiences are so intense and unique that no one else—least of all her parents—could possibly understand what she is going through.

In feeling misunderstood, teens forget that their parents were adolescents once too. In a sense, though, the kids have a point, because many parents react impulsively to their adolescent offspring and don’t take the time to recall what it was like when they were that age.

Parents may complain that “she’s too wrapped up in her own little world” without remembering what that “little world” was like for them a long time ago.

The other side of self-consciousness, of course, is egocentricity: the whole world is watching and everything revolves around me. This orientation toward life is definitely a mixed blessing. The adolescent may feel that her successes are marvelous and amazing—testimonials to her incredible potential. On the other hand, failure and being criticized in front of others can be excruciating. “That’s just great. Now everyone will think I’m a total dork!”

Risk-Taking
Adolescents take risks. They are experimenters. We worry about their driving, drug use, smoking, drinking and sexual activity. Teens can be dangerously creative. One study
of adolescent mortality, for example, reported a number of teenage deaths that were due to skateboarding under the influence of alcohol.

Some adolescent risk-taking, of course, is due to a natural, healthy curiosity about life. There are so many fascinating new experiences to be discovered! Teenage experimentation also results from the urge to do things differently from one’s
parents. “Mom and Dad are such a drag sometimes; don’t they ever have any fun? I’m going to do things my way and enjoy life.”

Some risk-taking also results from the egocentric adolescent view that one has unique awareness and special abilities that will not allow injury. Even though teens are at a point where they can intellectually appreciate the possible consequences of certain behavior, they don’t always “put two and two together” when it comes down to their own actions.

Sadly, every year thousands of teen pregnancies and auto fatalities are caused, in part, by this unfounded sense of invulnerability.

About the author Dr. Phelan

Nationally recognized as an expert on child discipline and Attention Deficit Disorder, Dr. Phelan has practiced for over 25 years and he appears frequently on radio and TV. Over 1,300,000 copies of 1-2-3 Magic: Effective Discipline for Children 2-12 books, videos and audiobooks have been sold (Spanish versions are also available).

Other articles in the September/October 2012 issue of Red Deer’s Child Magazine focus on back-to-school topics for children of all ages.

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Distribution:
Free distribution every two months
Circulation: 10,000 copies with 2000+ copies to 10 Central Alberta School Boards, 3,000+ copies to advertisers, daycares, rec centres, doctor’s offices, health centres, playschools and family resource centres, mass distribution with two large distributors to grocery stores, libraries and high traffic racks and Family trade shows and events

For more information see the Red Deer’s Child website.