Montessori Alliance

Your Child – 12 to 18 years

Third Stage of Development

The third stage of development concerns the child of 12 to 18 years of age. A very sensitive stage of development, 12 to 15 years of age has been likened to the first stage of development, especially birth to 3 years! An unstable, changeable and rebellious child confronts the parent/teacher on a daily basis. It can be a tough stage of development to handle for the child and the parent.

The Journey

As the child enters puberty, his body is not his own, hormones are raging, physically he is growing so fast his brain is unable to keep up with the changes and as a consequence he becomes clumsy, unpredictable and overly emotional. As this stage uses many of the bodies reserves, health and mental illnesses may come to the fore during puberty.

At about 12 years of age the child enters second level education and has to cope with the many challenging changes in his life this transition entails. The child may become opinionated, sure of his viewpoint and unwilling or unable to consider other views or that he may be wrong. Ultimately he becomes rebellious, rebelling against anything and everything. With all of this volatility in the child’s life, added outside pressures are hard for the child to deal with. Yet, our educational system chooses this time in the child’s life to ask the most from him. The child has to conform, choose courses, take exams and make life long career choices.

As a parent/teacher the need for boundaries and consistency is heightened. The need for independence and an increasing number of social interactions mean you, as an adult, have to ‘let go’ and let the child make his own mistakes. On the other hand, the child needs to know what is and isn’t acceptable behaviour and will look to you, the adult, to provide this template. An increasing need for freedom from adult supervision necessitates the establishment of trust between the child and the parent which is built up over time. Unfortunately trust building is not a linear progression or a one way street. There may be times when you as the adult will have to take back and restrict the child’s freedom but it is important to re-establish trust as soon as possible by allowing the child to earn it through reasonable tasks. Try to avoid expecting the child to have your views and values, remember your task as the adult is to guide and empower the child to have the conviction of his OWN THOUGHTS and FEELINGS.

During 15 to 18 years of age, the child is calmer, many of the physical changes have occurred and his body has learnt to cope with his greater physical presence. The child recognises that he belongs to a wider society and knows he needs to listen to ideas proposed by others and not just dismiss them out of hand. There will of course still be disagreements and arguments, emotions will run high but it is up to you as the adult to compromise and remember the child is on a journey, one that you’ve already taken and can only appreciate from an adults point of view. Accompanying the child to adulthood is one of life’s greatest privileges.

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