During adolescence, the regions of the brain that control emotions develop and mature. This phase is characterized by seemingly spontaneous outbursts that can be challenging for parents and teachers who often receive the brunt. Adolescents gradually learn to suppress inappropriate thoughts and actions and replace them with goal-oriented behaviors.
A typical area of conflict is the adolescent's normal desire to seek more freedom, which clashes with the parents' instincts to protect their children from harm. Frustration caused by trying to grow in many directions is common. Communication can be challenging as parents and adolescents renegotiate their relationship. All of these challenges are accentuated when families face other stresses or parents have emotional difficulties of their own because adolescents continue to need parenting. Doctors can help open lines of communication by offering adolescents and parents sensible, practical, supportive advice.
Last full review/revision February 2009 by Sharon Levy, MD, MPH