Referenced Pediatric HOUSECALLS by Robert R. Jarrett MD, MBA, FAAP, “Puberty: Psychological Stages Parts 1 and 2”
Tanner Stages 3-4 tend to be difficult times, as the body changes and hormones are adjusting. To be better prepared for this change of life, below are some suggested tips:
Try to be friends with everyone. No romantic relationships are needed until college, or after you have completed your education, if the relationships are a distraction. College is usually when you will meet someone meaningful, you will have a better idea of who you are and who would be a better companion for you, and you are around of a lot of choices so you can have a better chance of finding the right match.
Make a list now of how you see yourself in 5 years, in 10 years, what kind of job you think you might want someday, how many children (if any), what kind of house you want to live in, etc. Keep your eyes focused on the goals you have set for yourself, knowing they can change, but keep them real and healthy.
Romantic relationships can cause a lot competition, insecurities, fights, etc. If you plan on just being friends with everyone, going to youth group activities and other things that are safe, you will avoid all that aggravation. Why make life harder on yourself than is necessary?
Remember that your self image is very heightened during the teen years. Celebrate your uniqueness and differences, knowing you are a special creation by God. Make it a rule for yourself that you will not make fun of others for things they cannot change, such as a large nose, and if there is something that someone can change and might not be aware of it, such as foul body odor, tell them gently in private, and don’t talk about it behind their backs. You will have true friends when you are a good friend, and your peers can trust you. Doesn’t the world need more people like that? Be that one.
Remember that you are going through hormonal changes, your appearance with acne and things like body odor, body hair, weight gain, larger hips are all part of maturing. Those are supposed to happen. You will have a little more abdominal thickness to prepare you for later pregnancy, and that’s why your hips expand. Please don’t look at this as a negative. You will be changing into a woman, and that’s wonderful.
God will never desire for you to live immorally, or leave you helpless to fight off temptation (1 Cor. 10:13). You CAN make healthy and wise choices for yourself and many do. You are capable of making good decisions. Just because sources like television and magazines try to paint a bleak picture, know that in reality while temptation will come, I guarantee it, you can stay focused on better options in the area of purity.
Respect yourself and others. Purity is like fruit behind the glass. When people go to an open market and handle the fruit, bruising it, etc., it’s not as good as juicy grapes behind a glass that are cool, clean, and untouched, for example.
Be modest; you make a statement by your clothing choices, so make sure that is the statement of a wise and healthy young lady. You can dress stylish and be modest. Adults and even your peers will respect you for it. Just don’t flaunt or make others feel bad for not measuring up to you; be humble, and people will be attracted to the beauty inside of you.
Never, ever get bad grades on purpose for fear of not fitting in. Those same peers who make you feel like a “geek” or a “loser” for getting good grades may end up improving in their grades and leaving you behind while you struggle to get them back up. Be smart, and feel good about all your hard work. It will pay off when you’re admitted to your college of choice, or getting the career you dreamed of. Don’t allow those peers who make fun of you to be authoritative in your life; they cannot diminish your value.
Keep open communication with your parents, and find other adults you can trust to ask questions, such as teachers, coaches, youth pastors, a friend’s parent, etc. Realize they have more life experience, and even if it doesn’t make sense to you now, or you can’t see the consequences or repercussions for your actions and choices, they have those insights. Be teachable and humble, and you will gain a lot of wisdom beyond your years. It’s a great thing for people to say that of you.
Stay away from harmful substances, as you are more likely to not overcome addiction if starting during adolescence. Preserve your body; you are going to need it for many years. And teens do die; don’t think you are made of rubber. Prevent bad things as best as you can by being smart in your choices. Some people never grow out of immaturity, and they think the teen years are meant for partying rather than accomplishment. Have good, clean fun, but don’t waste your life.
Use your teen years to do hard things. Publish a book, learn to draw, learn to play an instrument, consider becoming an entrepreneur. Many great things in history were done by teens! Don’t waste these years ahead, but think smart and set yourself up for success. Get some experience by volunteering at nursing homes, children’s hospitals, or recovery rooms to bring families in or greet people. Volunteer at libraries to read to children, soup kitchens to pass out food and supplies, and when you’re a little older work with responsible adults in areas such as legal offices helping to file, physical therapists’s offices to help with towels and stocking, etc. Some of these places take high school students on a voluntary basis. If you like politics, volunteer at a campaign office. Form a blog that has positive inspirational messages for your peers, and get good discussions going. Have an adult you can consult with. Enter writing contests at libraries. Take a community art class or learn how to sew your own clothes, and perhaps see if your parents can help you sell them. Think big!
Remember that things will settle out. Once you get to Tanner stage 5, you will physically be an adult, and your hormones won’t be so aggressive. The things you started as a teen will reward you now. Think of the teen years as preparatory time. What do you want to accomplish? Take steps in that direction and realize you don’t have to wait until you grow up to do great things and make a difference.
While it is normal and God-given for you to start wanting to be independent of your parents, as that is the ultimate goal, do not isolate yourself from them. They have a responsibility to make sure they are aware of what is going on so they can protect you if needed. They should be allowing you to make more choices, and allow you to make some of your own mistakes, but remember that they are held accountable to God for how they raise you and to keep you safe, not just physically, but emotionally and spiritually. It’s a big job! Try to help them out. They are not your enemy, despite sometimes feeling like that. Make smart choices yourself so you don’t have to have anyone nagging at you. They will trust you, and that is something precious that you don’t want to lose.
Last thought: neurological maturity has been found not to complete until you are in your 20’s, so try not to be too impulsive or short-sighted. Abstract reasoning will still be developing for a while, and realize that it’s okay that you don’t have all the answers. They will come. Get opinions from people you trust before making any serious decisions. Usually around 20-24 you can really see from your parent’s perspective, and you will realize how smart they really are.
1 Thessalonians 5:18: "In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you."