Adolescent years

 

Challenges and solutions during adolescence 

How your child looks, and mixes with people of their own age, becomes increasingly important now. Another big part of adolescence is gradually loosening the bonds with family. There are also lots of other pressures on teenagers to do with physical development, school exams and thinking about the future.

In all families, there are often conflicts at this time, which may be made worse because your child has microtia and is struggling with their looks and mixing with their peer group. This is often a time when children with a condition affecting their appearance start to understand its full reality and how it might affect their life. For some adolescents this can be a very difficult time, while others find it liberating.

Now that your child is becoming more independent from parents and family, you will probably find that you have less influence on what they think and do. It may be a time when you find it very hard to do or say things that help them.

Some or all of the following ideas may help at this time:

Remembering that ups and downs are normal.  As with any teenager, be prepared for emotional fireworks, no matter how well you’ve prepared yourself for this stage in your child’s life.

Supporting your teenager.  Your child will be thinking in a far more complex way than ever before and will probably have lots of complicated questions. This is an important part of becoming an adult. Be honest and admit when you don’t know the answers. Let your child know that it is OK for them to talk to someone else like their GP or a support group and help them to find this support.  You may find that it’s more effective to get someone else to provide support for your teenager such as a family friend or a teacher who your teenager trusts and gets on with.

Getting involved.  Include your child, as much as possible, in making decisions about all aspects of their life and medical care. This helps them to feel included, respected, responsible and in control of their life. Make sure you listen to what they have to say.