Understanding adolescence requires a sincere effort that includes being open-minded and willing to communicate. This stage of life evolves, and approaches to managing it may need to follow suit. Individuals also need to realize that adolescence is a stage of life in which a person passes through smaller stages. It is a period where individuals have needs and face certain risks in ways that differ from people in other age groups.
The amount and type of difficulty that people experience when trying to understand adolescence can largely depend on age. That individuals are adolescents does not mean that they understand the stage that they are going through. The life experience of older people, such as teachers and parents, does not necessarily make them authorities either.
Conflict, frustration, and deeper confusion often result because various parties are trying to develop an understanding simultaneously, but there may be little, if any, consensus. Communication is an important part of understanding adolescence. Individuals who are truly attempting to learn need to be receptive to information, though it may sometimes appear conflicting or contradictory.
Another of the keys to understanding adolescence, therefore, is having an open mind. Being receptive goes beyond merely hearing or reading information. Individuals who believe that they have it all figured out essentially erect unnecessary barriers. Though some of the strategies used to navigate adolescence and manage adolescents may be effective for extended periods of time, many of the characteristics of this stage of life are not static. This means that one's understanding of or ability to handle adolescents may become outdated.
Understanding adolescence requires flexibility. The stage is often a learning experience for all involved. It is also a period in life where young people tend to do a substantial amount of experimenting and exploration. They often struggle with a lot of uncertainty. Both adolescents and others who may be trying to understand them should avoid using changes of mind or mistakes as absolute proof of a lack of understanding.
Although adolescence is a stage in life, to understand it, people must realize that there are stages within this span of time. It is important to note that visual and physical indicators, such as the presence of facial hair or the onset of menstruation, can be misleading in determining where individuals are within the scheme of adolescence or the issues that they may be facing. Adolescence should not be viewed as a one-size-fits-all process.
It is also to important to realize that adolescence involves more than behavioral and physical changes. This is a stage in life where special consideration is often needed with regards to issues such as health and nutrition. Adolescents tend to have needs in these regards that differ from those of people in other age groups. Certain types of risks are elevated for adolescents, such as the contraction of sexually transmitted diseases or alcohol-related deaths.