Supporting Healthy Identity In Teens

DECEMBER 2, 2019

Knowing what adolescents are going through during their teenage years can really help us to better understand and help them. According to Erik Erickson’s 8 Stages of Psychosocial Development, adolescents are in the stage of conflict between identity and role confusion. He believed that identity development is not traumatic and disturbing but, rather, a process of exploration followed by commitment. As young people try out life possibilities, they gain important information about themselves and their environment. This helps them to move toward making more enduring decisions.

Teenagers begin to evaluate themselves in a whole new way compared to how they would as children. New concepts affect their self-esteem. They evaluate themselves in their close friendships, romantic appeal, and even job competence. So, as parents, it’s incredibly important to do everything we can to support our children’s identity development so that they can feel more self-confidence and grow in self-esteem–two aspects of identity that are likely to bring success in the future.

Here are some simple but extremely important and effective ways that parents and family can support your adolescent’s healthy identity development:

Engage in warm, open communication. Doing so provides both emotional support and freedom that teens need to explore values and goals. You may not always love what they have to say, but try your hardest to keep conversation open, supportive and kind.
Initiate discussions that promote high-level thinking. This encourages rational and deliberate selection among beliefs and values.

Provide opportunities for your teens to participate in extracurricular activities and vocational training programs. These kinds of activities offer models of identity achievement and advice on how to resolve identity concerns. There truly are so many things to be learned from extracurriculars.
Provide opportunities to explore ethnic heritage and learn about other cultures in an atmosphere of respect. By doing this, you are fostering identity achievement in all areas as well as valuing ethnic diversity which supports the identity explorations of others. This also helps teach teens to treat everyone equally, fairly, and with kindness.



Berk, L., Development Through the Lifespan, pgs. 408 and 413

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