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Figuring Out Who You Are
Figuring Out Who You Are
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Figuring Out Who You Are

Youth

During puberty, you may begin to wonder for the first time about who you really are. You may even begin to worry more about what others think of you. Are you smart? Funny? Introverted? Artistic? It is totally normal to try out different ways of being until you figure out what is right for you. At this stage, you may try on new identities, experiment with the way you look or act and explore new friendships and interests.

It is also totally normal to spend more time with your friends during this time, but remember, just because your friends and peers like certain things, act a certain way or dress in a certain way, you don’t have to unless you want to! Pressure to fit in and pressure from your peers can seem overwhelming, but you always have the right to do what is best for you and to say no.

You will also notice that you may want to be more independent from your parents or other family members. This is because you are beginning the transition from being a child to being an adult. You will begin to make more decisions on your own, choose who you want to spend your time with and choose what you spend your time doing.

This is a really exciting time in your life! You have the ability to begin to try new things and discover who you really are. What is important to keep in mind is that you have the right to be you!

FAQs

I’ve played baseball since I was little, but I’m just not that into sports. I’d rather play the guitar. How can I tell my parents without disappointing them?

It is totally normal for your likes and dislikes to change during this time in your life. As you get older, you may get clearer about what you are interested in, and you get to make more of the choices about what activities you want to participate in rather than your parents making those decisions. Most adults understand that this is a time when your interests may change, and your parents should be supportive. We encourage you to talk with them about how you are feeling.

I feel like my best friend and I are drifting apart. We’ve been best friends since kindergarten, and now it seems like she is always too busy to hang out. What should I do?

As you grow up, you will notice your groups of friends may change. This is totally normal because during this time you are really figuring out who you are and what your interests are. They may not be the same as all the friends you’ve had since you were little and that is okay. We encourage you to find friends who share similar interests with you and are supportive of who you are.

Parents

During puberty, many young people begin to think about their identity and wonder for the first time about who they really are. Young people also begin to worry more about how others perceive them. They question their own attributes. Are they attractive? Smart? Funny? Introverted? Artistic?

At this stage, young people may try on new identities, experiment with the way they look or act and explore new friendships and interests. They may act differently depending on whom they are with. These variations in behavior, appearance and interests can cause concern among parents and educators. But it is normal behavior as a young person “tries on” different identities to see what works for them.

Peer acceptance becomes more important at this stage in development. At this age, young people’s peer groups will usually be comprised of friends of the same gender and those maturing at a similar pace. Some childhood friendships will fade away.

Although tweens and teens at this stage seek greater independence, they also need adult understanding and guidance, which is where you fit in as a parent or caretaker. You can help young people navigate this time of their lives by listening to their concerns, being supportive and providing medically accurate and age-appropriate information about the changes they are experiencing.

CONVERSATION STARTERS

It’s essential that parents and caretakers have conversations with children about their interests and friendships, so their tweens and teens know they can come to their parents and caretakers with questions and concerns. The easiest way to start these

conversations is to talk about issues as they come up in everyday life, like while watching TV together.

Have dinner together and talk about what is going on in your tween’s life: When they mention a new interest or hobby, you can say, “That’s really great that you are trying new things! Are there other new things you are interested in these days?”

While watching a TV show or movie together: If you notice there is a character who is dealing with peer pressure, you can ask, “Are there times when you want to fit in and feel like you should do what your friends are doing?”

Educators

During puberty, many young people begin to think about their identity and wonder for the first time about who they really are. Young people also begin to worry more about how others perceive them. They question their own attributes. Are they attractive? Smart? Funny? Introverted? Artistic?

At this stage, young people may try on new identities, experiment with the way they look or act and explore new friendships and interests. They may act differently depending on whom they are with. These variations in behavior, appearance and interests can confuse tweens/teens and cause concern among parents and educators. But it is normal behavior as a young person “tries on” different identities to see what works for them.

Peer acceptance becomes more important at this stage in development. At this age, young people’s peer groups will usually be comprised of friends of the same gender and those maturing at a similar pace. Some childhood friendships will fade away.

Although tweens and teens at this stage seek greater independence, they also need adult understanding and guidance, which is where you fit in as an educator. You can help young people navigate this time of their lives by being supportive and providing medically accurate and age-appropriate information about the changes they are experiencing.

DISCUSSION QUESTIONS

After watching the video with your class, process it using the following discussion questions:

* What scenes in the video stood out for you?

* Were any of the situations ones that you think teens today relate to? If so, which ones and why?

* What advice does the video offer for figuring out who you are?

* What impact do you think this video will have on young people as they are figuring out who they are