Adolescent Behavior and Development Lesson for Parents by Allison Sears

We've been there. Our teenage years seem to be not only the most thrilling, but also the most complicated years of our lives. After years of maturity, we often forget the thoughts and feelings we had at that age, especially when our children become this age of conflict and thrill. Why do our adolescent daughters act they way they do?

Discussion: What do you remember about being a teenager?

The first part to understanding our teenager's daughter is to understand the teenage brain as a whole.


  • Most brain development occurs during sleep
  • Prefrontal Cortex: not yet fully developed in our teenagers
  • Synaptic Pruning: connections not used in their brains are lost
  • Amygdala: Part of the brain that helps them react quickly in an emotional manner
  • Risk Taking: more likely to be vulnerable to risk taking activities due to the lack of brain development
There are many theories to help us understand they way our teenage daughters develop.

Since we now have a greater understanding on how their brains work, what about the reasoning behind all of this?

The Human Ecological Theory answers many questions around why people act the way they do and why they are the way that they are.


  • Microsystem: Relationships with significant others, family, school, peers
  • Mesosystem: linkage between two or more microsystems
  • Exosystem: setting in which people are not active participants but which affect them in
  • Macrosystem: the society and subculture to which a developmental person belongs
This is a model of Urie Bronfenbrenner's Ecological Model.
The next theory may seem more familiar. His name is Jean Piaget. His work has helped shape the school system.


  • Sensory Motor Stage (Birth - 2 years): Senses, motor abilities and reflexes develop rapidly
  • Pre-Operational Stage (2-7 years): Represent the world through symbols, egocentrism is high!
  • Concrete Operational Stage: (7-11 years): Intelligence is formed through concrete thought
  • Formal Operations Stage: (11-16 years): more higher order thinking can occur, thinking about thinking, rational thought used in abstract manner
The next theorist, Erik Erikson has a different approach to lifespan development. His theory will help us understand the stage of development our child is going through.


  • Stage 1: Trust v Mistrust
  • Stage 2: Autonomy v Shame and Doubt
  • Stage 3: Initiative v Guilt
  • Stage 4: Industry v Inferiority
  • Stage 5: Identity v Role Confusion
  • Stage 6: Intimacy v Isolation
  • Stage 7: Generativity v Stagnation
  • Stage 8: Integrity v Despair
The next theorist, David Elkind, is known for his work studying children and his work with the theory of Adolescent Egocentrism.


  • Imaginary Audience: our teens think that everyone is watching them; "all eyes on them"
  • Personal Fable: our daughters think that their experiences are unique and no one has ever felt that before
  • Invisibility Fable: they believe only misfortune only happens to others; no negative consequences
The last theorist, Lawrence Kohlberg explains the Moral Stages of Development


  • Moral Development
  • Stage 1. Preconventional: answers moral questions based on avoiding punishment
  • Stage 2. Conventional: able to move past personal gain or loss, look at moral decision based on values of society
  • Stage 3. Postconvetional: looks internally at what they believe to look at moral decision
What are some of the problems you are having with your teen? Are they recognizable?

We can support our daughters better now that we understand the way that they think.

exit ticket

What are ways you can better support you daughter with the new knowledge you have in order to help her self-esteem?


Created with images by be creator - "Group of teens at the beach" • PublicDomainArchive - "feet legs standing" • ericdez - "street skate girl" • kevin dooley - "School bus" • Artturi_Mantysaari - "balls balloon balloons" • GSLCMedia - "kids crafts arts and crafts" • pwjamro - "School" • be creator - "Girls" • MihaiParaschiv - "smile portrait beauty"

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