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Bodily changes are a part of the journey

Adolescence is a period of rapid physical growth with the result that they are always tired, always hungry, always clumsy, and always irritable. As they grow fast, so they eat a lot. Their emotions are worn-out by physical change, so they become short-tempered and display a tendency to victimise siblings. It is helpful to know that all teenagers are awkward, not just yours. Their bodies are growing so fast their brains have not caught up and so they tend to knock things over and lose the control they had when younger. All in all, change equals stress!

image 15 Bodily changes are a part of the journeyIt is at this time when the cry from people is often heard, ‘You clumsy oaf!’ This is not helpful, try to think how your teenager is feeling. She may have enjoyed ballet for a number of years but has suddenly grown to the point where the movements are no longer second nature and are even painful; he may no longer be selected for the football team having always been good at sport and your personal attack may scar him for life. Some young women (and, more rarely, young men) get so anxious about their appearance they take drastic measures to try and change the way they look and may even fall prey to eating disorders. Your love and affirmation will help them through this time. What young people need at this stage in their physical development is understanding.

For some young people physical growth doesn’t happen soon enough. I remember being a ‘late developer’ not becoming an average height until I was 16 years old [thankfully there was one person who was shorter than me!]. Re-read section A – the time for acceptance not criticism.

From my low level I envied all the tall ones. I now realise that they too got teased and called names. Perhaps this is one area of your life, at least for this specific time, that it is a good thing to be ‘just average’.

We suggest keeping a growth chart with dates and heights on, say, the doorpost to the kitchen. It will be a reminder how quickly they are growing and an opportunity to talk about the changes that are taking place. You could even remind them of the time you used to do this when they first started walking. Make it into a family ritual – a fun time.

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