“Today you are You, that is truer than true. There is no one alive who is Youer than You.” Dr. Seuss
Once upon a time, us parents all found ourselves smack dab in the middle of one of the hardest seasons of our young lives… The Teenage Years.
From physical changes to mental growth and development, emotional swings to a social life roller coaster ride, we all once were hard pressed to find something that was not going through a serious amount of change all at once in our young lives!
Depending on your personal experience, you may or may not recall how it felt to be in the mind, body and spirit of a teen. With that said, age and maturity has brought about a level of appreciation, perspective and empathy within us all as parents for our children who find themselves currently navigating through this challenging season. Because we were once in their shoes too!
When you consider all the moving parts of this final stage of development, it is no wonder that parents and teens alike find themselves at times overwhelmed. Thankfully, due to extensive study and research, parents, teachers and coaches now have access to a plethora of information to support, guide and nurture teens in the best way possible.
Let’s break down what is happening physically and intellectually in the preteen & teen years!
10+ Year Olds: Physical Development
During the preteen and teen years, the final stage of physical development from adolescent to adult has come! This not only means significant growth spurts but also hormonal changes as youth enter into puberty.
At this stage of our children’s physical development:
· Sloppiness can manifest itself in a variety of physical activities as preteens and teens struggle to find their sense of coordination during times of rapid physical growth
· While appetite is increasing to accommodate growth and development, so too is physical strength
· Feelings of insecurity often arise as changes in physical appearance occur:
o To accommodate rapid bone growth in this final stage of development, preteens and teens often note changes in hand and foot size first to accommodate their growth in height, thus lending itself to awkwardness and clumsiness at times.
o As the shoulders of boys widen, the hips of girls widen too as their trunk lengthens.
o Due to growth in facial bones as well, changes in appearance are not uncommon at this age and stage of development.
10+ Year Olds: Intellectual Development
At this age and stage of development, preteens and teens are extremely smart but often struggle with sound decision making because the prefrontal cortex of the brain is undergoing significant growth and development well through the early 20’s!
That’s right parents! Brain growth and development in your child is not done until they are in their early 20’s! This is Extremely. Important. to recognize and understand. Because while academically this age group is very, very smart, they are actively in what Psychologist Jean Piaget defines as the Formal Operations Stage of Development.
During this time, while thought processes are certainly developing and becoming more advanced, the mind/spirit connection can easily be affected by hormonal and emotional influences happening simultaneously in the body thus making it very challenging to stay grounded and centered in times of increased stress and anxiety.
Knowing what we know about the physical and intellectual stages of development for preteens and teens, how are our team of Pediatric Ninja Specialists supporting children on and beyond the mats to flourish in these areas?
1. Nurturing Physical Abilities
o By engaging preteens and teens in activities that require the application of power and mechanics, their musculoskeletal system is able to flourish in its development of strength and coordination as the body acclimates to physical changes. Further, through the practice of activities that require a focus upon the details of movement, preteens and teens alike are able to build greater momentum in their movement with increased accuracy.
2. Exercising Mental Toughness
o It goes without saying that preteens and teens face some hard decisions as they move through their final stage of childhood development into adulthood. Thus, engaging them in activities that require them to practice healthy decision-making when under pressure is critical. Beyond decisions of right vs. wrong, nurturing mental toughness on the mats also
lends itself to strengthening their ability to think abstractly when it comes to problem solving how to get something done or resolved.
o By supporting Ninjas in a nurturing environment where they are safe to grow into their developing mind and body, preteens and teens are able to explore and set measurable, achievable goals for themselves on the mats that build confidence and excitement for the ambitions and drive they have in their passions beyond the mats as well! For when they see the fruits of their hard work and achievements, goals beyond the mats do not seem as far out of reach because they have learned how to break down their goal into achievable steps to ultimate completion!
Every part of why we do what we do is with the purposeful intention of ensuring the whole mind, body and spirit of your preteen and teen is supported.
The Teen Years though overwhelming at times are truly very special as your child steps with greater purpose and intention into their gifts, talents and passions. We as parents, teachers and coaches have the blessing and honor of supporting them in becoming who they are meant to be! What a gift and honor this is! Know that as always, our Team is standing by to support you and your teen in this season should you need further help and guidance. Together we are SKILLZ Strong!
About the Author
Meg Klettke is the proud owner alongside her husband, Alex of Family Strong Sussex, a SKILLZ Lifetime Gold studio in Southeastern Wisconsin. With a background in traditional and alternative therapeutics, Meg is an active advocate for today’s youth. Her passion for supporting and nurturing the whole child resonates through all she does as a Proud Ninja Mom of two boys with special needs, Certified Pediatric Ninja Specialist and Content Creator for SKILLZ Worldwide.