Over the years, my practice has had an increasing number of parents calling with concerns about their child refusing to where the clothes traditionally associated with a certain gender – little boys demanding pretty skirts, little girls refusing to wear dresses. Notably, most of these parents are not concerned about the sexual or gender diversity choices of their child. More, they are concerned about trying to bully proof them for fear that they may be harassed or maltreated by others because others cannot accept their preferences.
Identity formation is an important milestone in adolescence and sexual orientation is just one part of many things that an adolescent sort out about themselves in the lead up to the adult years…and sometimes even beyond that. An adolescent may take some time before they decide their sexual orientation. The average age of coming out is about 16, but that does not mean that young people have all of their gender identity issues sorted out by 16.
One of the most common concerns raised by parents, teachers and carers of teens is alcohol and substance use. The concerns are solid. Given that an adolescent brain is still growing and at a very rapid pace, any damage caused while it is still developing could have a big impact on future brain health.
Generally speaking, with the growth in teenage body and brain comes a growth in the desire to experience new things. Those new things need to be exciting and not the usual day to day hum of the family household. Changes to the pleasure centre of the brain during the teen years mean that the young person can become more dissatisfied with home and want to push boundaries, meet others, fit in with others, and spend more time with people outside of their family. This lure of a wider world can bring more exposure to things not experienced in the home and things for which young people have some information, but not necessarily wisdom.
Some children are picky eaters. They limit the amounts they will eat – some reject foods and some are unwilling to try new foods. Contrary to what many may think, picky eating is not linked to eating disorders late in life. However, picky eating and meal time behaviour problems are linked to other behavioural problems in children.
Picky eating usually has its basis in three areas: developmental stages, personal preferences and family practices.
A bio-psychosocial look at mental health during the adolescent years including:
“A framework for understanding what might be going on for her”