So, when does adolescence start? Everybody’s different — there are early bloomers, late arrivers, speedy developers, and slow-but-steady growers. In other words, there’s a wide range of what’s considered normal.
But it’s important to make a distinction between puberty and adolescence. Many kids announce the onset of adolescence with a dramatic change in behavior around their parents. They’re starting to separate from mom and dad and become more independent. At the same time, kids this age are increasingly aware of how others, especially their peers, see them and are desperately trying to fit in. Their peers often become much more important than parents as far as making decisions. Kids often start “trying on” different looks and identities, and they become very aware of how they differ from their peers, which can result in episodes of distress and conflict with parents.
The primary goal of the teen years is to achieve independence. To do this, teens must start pulling away from their parents — especially the parent whom they’re the closest to. This can feel like teens are always at odds with parents or don’t want to be around them the way they used to. As they mature, they start to think more abstractly and rationally. They’re forming their moral code. And parents of adolescents may find that kids who previously had been willing to conform to please them will suddenly begin asserting themselves strongly and rebelling against parental control. You may need to look closely at how much room you give your teen to be an individual and ask yourself questions such as: “Am I a controlling parent?,” “Do I listen to my child?,” and “Do I allow my teen’s opinions and tastes to differ from my own?”