At DBT of South Jersey, we understand the complexities involved in nurturing the evolving emotional and social needs of young individuals. Every child’s journey is unique, but common threads unite their experiences. From struggling with team sports to managing the turmoil of adolescence, our children and teens face a vast array of challenges.

This guide will provide valuable insights into understanding the normal behavior expected at different ages, while also equipping you with strategies to address more difficult patterns. Whether your child is dealing with the pressures of academics or the confusion of growing pains, we’re here to help illuminate the path toward a healthier, more balanced future for them.

It’s never too early or too late to foster resilience and equip our young ones with the right tools to face life’s ups and downs. Read on to discover how you can effectively support the development of your children and teens, ensuring they grow to reach their highest potential.

Structured Snippet:
Emotional Regulation: Teaching children and teens to manage and express their emotions effectively.
Interpersonal Skills: Helping them build stronger, healthier relationships.
Handling Stress and Anxiety: Developing coping mechanisms for home and school life.
Cultivating Mindfulness: Encouraging self-awareness and presence.
Fostering Resilience: Empowering them to recover from setbacks with strength.

Infographic showing a visual summary of key emotional and social skills development areas for children and teens, including emotional regulation, interpersonal skills, stress management, mindfulness, and resilience. - children and teens infographic pillar-4-steps

Understanding Normal Behavior in Children and Teens

Navigating the journey of growth for children and teens can be both rewarding and challenging. Recognizing what is typical behavior at various ages helps parents and caregivers provide the right support. Let’s explore what’s considered normal for two critical developmental stages: 16-year-olds and 13-year-olds.

Normal Behavior in 16-Year-Olds

At 16, teenagers are on the cusp of adulthood. They often exhibit a newfound desire for independence and may start to pull away from parental guidance. It’s common for them to want more privacy and to spend increased time with their peers. As they move closer to adulthood, they begin to make decisions with their future in mind, which might not always align with their parents’ expectations. This push for autonomy is a natural part of their development.

A study of adolescent behavior illustrates that a 16-year-old knows that adulthood is not far away, so they will start to show more independence and engage in less conflict with their parents. They also will begin making decisions with that independence in mind. However, their choices may not always feel like the right ones to their parents.

Why 13-Year-Olds Can Be Difficult

Thirteen can be a particularly challenging age, as children transition into their teenage years. This period is marked by significant hormonal changes and the quest for a personal identity separate from their family. These changes can result in a range of behaviors, from becoming more secluded to seeking more time with friends, and occasionally acting out.

The tumultuous nature of this time can be attributed to their struggle with body changes, identity formation, and peer pressure, coupled with a growing need for independence. This can manifest as aloofness or a desire for greater privacy. As they navigate these changes, it’s crucial for parents and caregivers to maintain open communication and offer steady support.

As one Reddit user poignantly noted, “[Teens] are designed to be idolized or even sexualized and displayed as desired so what do you think it does to a person who doesn’t look like that.” This reflects the intense social and self-image pressures that teens face, highlighting the importance of fostering a supportive environment that promotes healthy self-esteem.

Understanding these behaviors in children and teens is essential to provide them with the appropriate support and guidance they need. As we at DBT of South Jersey emphasize, early intervention and counseling can lay a strong foundation for a happier, healthier future for our young ones. Through DBT counseling, children and teens learn practical tools for emotion regulation and interpersonal skills that will benefit them throughout life.

Teenagers interacting in a group, illustrating the social aspect of normal developmental behavior at this stage. - children and teens

Strategies for Dealing with Difficult Behavior in Teens

Navigating the complexities of adolescence can be challenging for both parents and teens. Understanding and addressing difficult behavior is essential for fostering a safe and supportive environment for growth. Let’s explore strategies to help when teens exhibit challenging behaviors.

What to Do When a 16-Year-Old Refuses to Come Home

When a 16-year-old refuses to come home, it’s important to approach the situation calmly and strategically. Here are steps to consider:

  • Establish Communication: Open a line of communication without judgment. Ask questions to understand their perspective.
  • Understand the Reasons: Determine why your teen does not want to come home. Are there conflicts or issues they’re avoiding?
  • Graduated Response: Use a gradual approach to encourage your teen’s return, such as setting clear boundaries and consequences.
  • Involve Professionals: If necessary, involve law enforcement or seek a court order, especially if you believe your teen is in danger.
  • Seek Legal Guidance: Legal assistance can provide you with options and help ensure your child’s safety.

Maintaining a supportive relationship is key, as found in a study indicating teens who have a warm and loving relationship with their mother are less likely to enter abusive relationships (Reddit).

How to Handle Difficult Behavior in 13-Year-Olds

Thirteen can be a particularly tough age, as children navigate the transition from childhood to their teenage years. Here’s how to handle difficult behavior:

  • Empathy and Understanding: Acknowledge the pressures they face, from social dynamics to hormonal changes.
  • Consistent Boundaries: Set clear and consistent rules to help them feel secure and know what’s expected.
  • Open Dialogue: Keep the lines of communication open. Encourage them to express their feelings and listen actively.
  • Positive Reinforcement: Focus on positive behaviors and reward them, helping to build self-esteem and encourage good choices.
  • Seek Counseling: If behaviors become more concerning, consider professional counseling as an option.

Here at DBT of South Jersey, we understand that each child is unique, and our skilled therapists are dedicated to supporting children and teens as they navigate these challenging years. We offer tailored strategies to help your family thrive, reinforcing skills that are beneficial for both children and parents.

In summary, dealing with difficult behavior in teens requires patience, understanding, and sometimes professional support. By addressing their needs with empathy and clear communication, you can guide them towards positive growth and development.

Health and Well-being of Children and Teens

Ensuring the health and well-being of children and teens is vital for their growth and future success. It’s not just about treating illnesses; it’s about fostering environments that support their overall development. Let’s explore some key areas that contribute to the well-being of young individuals.

Importance of Quitting Team Sports

Sometimes, a child may show signs that they want to quit team sports. While this can be concerning for parents, understand that this decision can be in the best interest of their mental and physical health. Overemphasis on competition or an overly intense schedule can lead to burnout and a negative association with physical activity. If a child expresses the desire to quit, it’s crucial to have an open conversation to understand their reasons and support them in finding joy in other activities that promote their well-being.

Pain Relief Options for Children and Teens

When children experience pain, whether it’s from an injury or a chronic condition, address it with appropriate pain relief options. According to Dr. Coral Candelario-Velazquez, TENS (Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulation) might be an effective non-pharmacological option. It’s always best to consult with a healthcare provider to find the most suitable and safe pain management strategy for your child.

The Risks of Weight-Loss Drugs for Teens

The conversation around weight-loss drugs for teens is a delicate one. While obesity can be a concern, the use of weight-loss medications may come with risks and side effects. As experts in child and teen health, we believe in promoting healthy eating habits and regular physical activity as the primary methods for managing weight. Medications should only be considered under strict medical supervision when lifestyle changes are not enough.

Understanding Childhood Diabetes

Childhood diabetes, both Type 1 and Type 2, requires careful management to ensure a child’s long-term health. It’s about more than just monitoring blood sugar levels; it’s about instilling habits that will help them manage their condition throughout their lives. Early education on the importance of a balanced diet and regular exercise can make a significant impact.

Recognizing and Managing Childhood Depression

Childhood depression is a critical issue that often goes unrecognized. Children and teens may not always exhibit clear signs of depression, so it’s important to be vigilant and seek professional help if you notice changes in their mood or behavior. Dr. Gloria Chiang emphasizes the importance of understanding that children, like adults, can face mental health challenges that deserve attention and care.

Dealing with Juvenile Idiopathic Arthritis

Juvenile Idiopathic Arthritis (JIA) can be a challenging condition for children to live with. It’s not just about managing pain, but also about maintaining mobility and quality of life. Early diagnosis and treatment are key, as well as providing a supportive home environment that encourages physical activity within comfortable limits.

Navigating the ER for Migraines in Teens

When a teen experiences migraines so severe that they require a visit to the ER, it can be a daunting experience. Dr. Vikram Prakash advises that having a plan in place and understanding when to seek emergency care can help families navigate these stressful situations more effectively.

The Importance of Swim Lessons for Children and Teens

Swim lessons are not just about learning a skill; they’re a critical safety measure to protect children from drowning. Dr. Shalini Patel highlights the importance of starting lessons early to instill confidence and proficiency in the water, which can save lives.

The Benefits of Pets for Children and Teens

The companionship of pets can have a profound positive impact on the emotional health of children and teens. Dr. Gloria Chiang notes that caring for a pet can teach responsibility, provide comfort, and even improve self-esteem. Whether it’s a dog, cat, or another animal, the bond between a child and their pet can contribute significantly to their overall well-being.

In ensuring the health and well-being of children and teens, we must look at the whole picture, from physical health to emotional support. Each aspect of their lives plays a role in their development, and as caregivers, we have the opportunity to provide them with the tools they need to thrive. If you’re considering therapy or support for your child or teen, our team at DBT of South Jersey is here to help, offering a compassionate approach to mental health and emotional resilience.

The Role of Medical Professionals in Children and Teens’ Development

Medical professionals play a crucial role in the growth and development of children and teens. From monitoring physical health to supporting mental well-being, these experts are essential in helping young individuals reach their full potential.

The Importance of Board-Certified Pediatricians

Board-certified pediatricians are highly trained professionals who specialize in the health and development of children and adolescents. They are not only experts in treating childhood illnesses but also in preventative care, ensuring that children and teens are meeting developmental milestones. These medical professionals are adept at communicating with children at different developmental stages, making them invaluable in addressing both physical and emotional needs.

Pediatricians also provide guidance on nutrition, safety, and the prevention of disease, which are foundational elements for a healthy start in life. By establishing a relationship with a board-certified pediatrician, you ensure your child receives comprehensive care tailored to their unique needs.

The Role of the American Academy of Pediatrics

The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) is a professional organization that sets the standard for pediatric health care. They provide valuable resources and guidelines for pediatricians to follow, such as the latest recommendations for vaccinations, screen time, and nutrition. The AAP is also an advocate for policies that benefit the health and well-being of children and teens.

For parents and guardians, the AAP is an authoritative source of information on child health topics, from infancy through adolescence. By following the AAP’s guidelines, medical professionals ensure that children and teens receive care that is based on the latest research and best practices.

The Patient Centered Medical Home Program

The Patient Centered Medical Home (PCMH) program is a model of care that puts patients at the forefront of care and emphasizes a continuous relationship with a personal pediatrician. This program is grounded in comprehensive care, coordinated treatment, accessible services, and a commitment to quality and safety.

In the context of children and teens, the PCMH model ensures that their developmental, psychological, and preventative health needs are addressed in a holistic manner. It promotes a partnership between the patient, family, and healthcare providers, leading to more personalized care and better health outcomes.

For those seeking a supportive environment that fosters growth and addresses the complex needs of children and teens, our team at DBT of South Jersey embraces the principles of the PCMH. We believe in the power of collaboration between families and healthcare providers to create a strong foundation for the healthy development of children and teens.

Understanding and Using the BMI Percentile Calculator for Children and Teens

How to Accurately Measure Height and Weight

To get an accurate BMI reading for children and teens, it’s crucial to measure height and weight correctly. The CDC advises that you measure height and weight accurately to ensure precision. For height, have the child stand against a wall without shoes, feet together, and back straight. Measure to the nearest 0.1 inch. For weight, use a digital scale on a flat surface, with the child wearing minimal clothing, and record to the nearest 0.1 pound.

Understanding BMI Categories and Percentiles

BMI is a tool that calculates weight in relation to height. For children and teens, BMI needs to be age and sex-specific, using percentiles. These percentiles are categories that help compare a child’s BMI with others of the same age and sex. The CDC’s BMI Percentile Calculator for Child and Teen simplifies this process. The categories are:
– Less than the 5th percentile: Underweight
– 5th to less than the 85th percentile: Healthy weight
– 85th to less than the 95th percentile: Overweight
– 95th percentile or greater: Obese

The Importance of Discussing BMI Results with a Healthcare Provider

After calculating BMI, it’s important for parents to discuss the results with a healthcare provider. BMI can be a screening tool for potential health issues, but it’s not diagnostic. A professional can provide context, evaluate health risks, and offer guidance. This conversation is an opportunity to promote healthy habits and address any concerns.

The Risks of Severe Obesity in Children and Teens

Severe obesity in children and teens, defined as a BMI at or above the 95th percentile, presents significant health risks. These can include type 2 diabetes, high cholesterol, joint problems, and increased risk of mental health conditions. Long-term, it’s associated with chronic conditions like cardiovascular disease and certain types of cancer. It’s our role at DBT of South Jersey to help our clients understand these risks and support them in developing healthier lifestyles.

The Role of BMI in Screening for Disease and Illness

BMI serves as an initial screening measure, not a definitive diagnosis of disease or illness. It can help identify potential health concerns early, allowing for timely intervention and management. Regular BMI assessments can be a part of preventative healthcare for children and teens.

The Importance of Annual Height, Weight, and BMI Assessments

Annual assessments of height, weight, and BMI are important to monitor growth patterns and identify any deviations from expected growth. These assessments can also inform discussions about nutrition and physical activity, contributing to a child’s overall health and well-being.

When to Refer to a Family Healthy Weight Program

If a child’s BMI percentile indicates a potential health risk, it may be appropriate to refer the family to a healthy weight program. Such programs offer comprehensive support, including education on nutrition, physical activity, and behavioral strategies to promote a healthy weight. Early intervention is key to preventing future health issues.

In summary, understanding and using the BMI percentile calculator is a fundamental step in supporting the growth and development of children and teens. It’s a starting point for conversations about health and well-being, providing an opportunity to build healthy habits that can last a lifetime.

The Importance of Dental Health in Children and Teens

Good dental health is vital for everyone, especially for growing children and teens. It’s not just about having a bright smile; it’s about maintaining overall health and instilling confidence during these formative years.

The Role of Pediatric Dentists

Pediatric dentists specialize in caring for the unique dental needs of children and teens. They are not just experts in treating teeth; they’re skilled at addressing dental fears and making each visit educational and fun. At DBT of South Jersey, we understand that a child’s first experience with a dentist can shape their attitude towards dental care for life. That’s why our pediatric dentists are committed to making dental visits positive, encouraging good oral hygiene habits from a young age.

The Importance of a Comfortable and Motivating Dental Environment

A comfortable and motivating environment is key to a successful dental visit for children and teens. It’s important for them to feel safe and relaxed in the dental chair. This is why at Children & Teen Dental of Florida, we’ve designed our offices to be welcoming and engaging, helping to ease any anxieties. Our aim is to create a connection with our young patients, making them feel motivated about their dental health.

The Impact of Dental Health on Overall Health and Confidence

Dental health affects overall health and confidence in profound ways. Poor oral health can lead to issues such as pain, infections, and difficulties in eating, speaking, and learning. A healthy mouth is part of a healthy body. For instance, chronic dental issues in children and teens have been linked to other health conditions, including diabetes and heart disease.

Moreover, the state of a child’s teeth can impact their self-esteem and confidence. A bright, healthy smile can make a big difference in a child’s social interactions and willingness to participate in school and other activities. At Children & Teen Dental of Florida, we’re dedicated to improving smiles, confidence, and overall health, positively impacting the lives of our guests.

Ensuring that children and teens maintain good dental health is more than just avoiding cavities; it’s about supporting their development into confident and healthy adults.


In the journey of nurturing children and teens, understanding their evolving needs is crucial. As we have explored various aspects of their development, from emotional regulation to physical health, it’s clear that each stage requires a unique approach. Our role in supporting the younger generation is multifaceted, and our efforts can make a lasting impact on their future.

Building Strong Foundations
From the research shared by the University at Buffalo, we know that teens who experience warm and loving relationships with their mothers are less likely to enter abusive relationships. This underscores the importance of fostering positive parenting behaviors that help children form a healthy self-image, feeling lovable and worthy of respect (Source).

Supporting Emotional Growth
At DBT of South Jersey, we recognize the importance of early intervention for children and teens experiencing emotional difficulties. By offering DBT counseling, we help them acquire the tools they need to manage their emotions and build resilience. Our therapists create a positive therapeutic alliance, enabling young individuals to grow and heal in a supportive environment.

Promoting Healthy Lifestyles
Encouraging a healthy lifestyle is critical for children and teens. The BMI Percentile Calculator for Child and Teen from the CDC is a valuable tool for parents and healthcare providers to monitor and discuss a child’s growth patterns (CDC BMI Calculator). Addressing the risks of severe obesity early on can prevent future health issues and promote well-being.

Emphasizing Dental Health
Good oral health is integral to a child’s overall health and self-esteem. At Children & Teen Dental of Florida, we aim to create a fun and inviting atmosphere, making dental care a positive experience. This helps establish lifelong healthy habits and boosts confidence (Children & Teen Dental of Florida).

As we conclude, every small step we take can foster healthier, happier, and well-rounded individuals. Whether it’s through supportive parenting, effective therapy, vigilant healthcare, or caring dental practices, our collective efforts can empower children and teens to reach their full potential. Let’s continue to be the guiding force that helps them navigate the complexities of growing up with confidence and support.


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