Adolescence and Emerging Adulthood


“Be a guide on the side, not a sage on the stage” -Professor Cornwall

Adolescence and Emerging Adulthood Milestones:

Physical Growth milestones:

  • Teens experience major changes in height and weight – help them maintain positive body image
  • Puberty – be proactive, this is not something to be afraid of
  • Early maturing girls as well as late maturing boys may be teased, be aware of this and do what you can to solve this problem
Puberty meter – Boys
Puberty meter – Girls
  • Brain development will continue until age 25
    • Especially the frontal lobe which affects decision making based on future consequences

Cognitive & Emotional milestones:


  • Imaginary audience
    • Teens will perform to an imaginary audience – they think everyone is aware of everything they do, whether or not that is true (which is also why they spend time alone, to avoid the audience)
    • It is helpful to help them remember to “be themselves” however chilche that sounds
  • Adolescent egocentrism
    • Teens often believe that everyone is thinking about what they are thinking
    • It is helpful to give them perspective
  • Personal fable
    • Teens often believe that what they are going through is so unique that no one will understand
    • It is helpful to remind them that even if you don’t remember what it was like, the Savior most certainly did.
    • “Where will you go to be taught about a Savior who is your best friend, who not only suffered for your sins but who also suffered “pains and afflictions and temptations of every kind” so “that his bowels may be filled with mercy, according to the flesh, that he may know according to the flesh how to succor his people according to their infirmities,” including, I believe, the infirmity of loss of faith?”
      -M. Russell Ballard “To Whom Shall We Go?”

Teen years can be hard, be patient and be willing to listen.


  • Teens are not more emotional, they are just more likely to hit extremes
  • “Early teens generally reported more anxiety and nervousness at school and more positive feelings at home with family members” (1).  Make home a place where teens feel comfortable.
  • Often times anger is masking another emotion like fear – don’t be afraid to stop and say “What’s the real issue here?”
  • Help teens to find a way to release all their energy
    • E X E R C I S E
    • Drawing
    • Music
    • Writing
    • Journaling
  • Remind them that there is good in every day, even though every day might not be good – help them find the good
  • Erickson’s Identity Achievement – help teen to be in the moratorium & identity achievement stages



  • Teach teen autonomy:
    • Emotional – find strength within oneself to sort through emotionally tough things, does not mean you should never help
    • Behavioral – help teen to make their own decisions because soon you won’t be able to control what they do, continue to monitor
  • Continue with warmth even in the face of conflicts – that most certainly will come

Moral and Spiritual milestones:

  • Family history is hugely important – set a good example of doing it and it will be of great benefit to your teens

  • To encourage spiritual development in teens – give them opportunities to serve & engage in positive experiences
  • Help teens to develop inductional-reflective faith through the following
    • Build a strong relationship
    • Bear testimony as a family
    • Cultivate spiritual experiences (don’t manufacture)
    • Ask what they learned at church
    • Get teens teaching
    • family history. family history. family history.

How to deal with parent-child conflict:


Parents don’t need to be perfect, they just need to learn to apologize.

Other advice:

  • Listen
  • Loosen up & let go
  • Maximize autonomy
  • Allow them to make mistakes while they are still at home

Peer influence vs. Parental influence:

There is not much to worry about as long as you are being an authoritative parent.


Emerging adulthood milestones:

Do parents matter?

  • The quality of parent child relationship is the biggest factor
  • You are now going to be there for advice, not for decision making
  • Kids are more likely to finish college is parents assist
  • Kids will not feel like you have legitimate authority over them, remember that.
  • Be available to listen. (2)
  • Be willing to find a NEW balance. (2)

Issues or Concerns facing this time period:

  •  Dating, are you doomed?
    • ALWAYS EXPLAIN THE WHY to avoid doom
    • Teach teens that PAIRING OFF IS POWERFUL
    • Encourage. Encourage. Encourage.
    • Some good advice from church leaders:
  •  Say, “Heck no.” to helicopter parenting your emerging adults
    • Although not as negative as behavioral control, it is often unwanted
    • Often interferes with transition to adulthood
    • Even though it can be hard, you must allow your emerging adult to have consequences
    • Encourage them to make their own choices even if you don’t agree with them
  •  Teens and positive self image
    • Often body image issues develop during puberty
    • How to counter them?
      • Avoid talking negatively about yourself and others, teens will compare
      • Focus on health
      • Do family activities that promote health
      • Avoid talking about movie stars in glorious light
      • Encourage body capability positivity
      • Establish healthy patterns in your family life
    • Encourage Family Fitness : neat article about ways to incorporate exercise
  • Get some shut eye
    • Help teens to get the 9+ hours of sleep they need
      • Don’t allow sleep to become all consuming
    • Insufficient sleep results in lack of academic attention, and physical and mental health
    • Promote regular sleep schedules to avoid daytime sleepiness (1)
  • Working teens?
    • Pros:
      • Teen learns punctuality, responsibility, money management, and gains work experience
    • Cons:
      • Anything above 10 hours a week begins to cut into other necessary activities: school, exercise and sleep


L. Walker, Lecture 12: Parenting Teens, SFL 240, Winter 2017.

(1) Brooks, J. B. (n.d.). Chapter 10: Parenting Early Adolescents. In The Process of Parenting (9th ed., pp. 273-304). Michael Sugarman.

(2) Brooks, J. B. (n.d.). Chapter 11: Parenting Late Adolescents and Young Adults. In The Process of Parenting (9th ed., pp. 273-304). Michael Sugarman.


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