Top 10 Problems and Issues Teenagers Face
Are Teenagers the Problem?
I was pushed into writing the ' Top ten problems teenagers face' after I attended a school program, where I had the opportunity to interact with other parents of teenagers. The normal flow of conversation was in the form of complaints about raising teenagers. I could see that each parent was only adding one more item to the list of complaints. I searched the net - the result wasn’t much different... it was mostly about how to… get your teen to clean their rooms, handle behavior that is rebellious or aggressive, problematic teens,defiant teenagers, out of control teenagers, make them more responsible etc… This got me thinking, and I concluded that what we need today is to look at the problem in a different light..
Kids go where there is excitement. They stay where there is love - Zig Ziglar
I took a good look at the teenager I raise, followed him around, spoke to him awhile and got in touch with more teenagers and this is what I found...
The health of the teenager is most important
Problems that Teenagers Face Today
Teenagers and Body image
At the very outset they are struggling to come to terms with their body image. The cherubic appearance of childhood gone, they are looking at strangers in the mirror, gawky, disproportionate limbs, facial features, facial hair and acne to mention a few. They don’t know what to do with their hands and legs and are often termed ‘fidgety’
Search for Identity - the troubled teenager
I see teenagers as those struggling to find a place in society, be recognized by their peers and be accepted for what they are. This is the most important task of their lives at this juncture and they are faced with a lot of anxiety and insecurity as they work around this. I take my son as an example. My son is brought up to be respectful, helpful, kind, gentle, tolerant, follow moral and biblical principles of honesty, integrity etc. He has chosen to live by what he is taught. The struggle that I see each day is food for thought. Looking at the world around, these values are passé- this teen sticks around like a sore thumb because he is not like the rest of his peers - aggressive, pushy, vulgar, defiant and lack moral values, to name a few. His friends don’t accept him though they know that when they are in trouble they can find help here. He dares to be a loner because of his choice.
All around him, the media is not so subtly preaching that it is okay to do anything that makes you feel good. You are cool only if you have ‘things’ is what is shouted from housetops. The shows on television for this age group say all is fair in teenage - be it bullying, premarital sex, aggressive / violent behaviour, breaking rules. What is the teenager learning? What is a teen to choose? Who is to blame? Is it their fault if they become are confused teenagers , defiant teenagers or out of control teenagers?
Problems Faced by Teenagers
Scheduling work and play
Teenage stress increases with school work and as they move higher, a number of projects to be done, tests to cope up with, professional choices to be focused on, drama, literary forums, sport and other extra curricular activities from the school front add to the pressure. On the social front, a new and tantalizing horizon opens up- dating, partying, hanging out with friends, vying for attention with the distraction of the media, sports, music, internet relationships etc. The teenager is under much duress to schedule time, prioritize work and achieve goals. Effective learning skills could be of great help to these teenagers.
High parental expectation Parenting teenagers is like walking on thin ice. Parents need to strike the right balance. Often times parents live their dream through their children this is when the pressure builds. Expecting the teenager to excel in academics, get good grades, be the child of their expectations – well behaved, responsible for themselves and sometimes for their younger siblings and bring in accolades from extra curricular activities - is in itself enough pressure.
Added to this is peer pressure. Teens, to be accepted among peers, feel the need to become more popular through other channels like music, sport and if need be by bulling and getting into school gangs… and are often under great stress to become acceptable and popular. Amid such hectic activity, the seeds of restlessness, anxiety, fear of failure, unbearable stress is all planted. The most immature and easy way out could lead them to other problem areas like formation of unacceptable habits, teenage depression, substance abuse, getting into trouble with the law etc.
Social and parental pressure
Every significant other adult around the teen is attempting to mould him / her into some acceptable shape. Parents, teachers, elders in the family, social groups are all party to this. The teen is hardly ever able to do what he / she wants to do with his / her life. Even though people do not push their views down their throats, they are still under a lot of strain because of the variety of suggestions given and the fear of failure. Frequently, teens arrive at decisions which conflict with their own skills or fields of interest.
The teen is suddenly expected to act like an adult, with good social and self- help skills in areas like managing work independently, decision making, managing their finances well, being responsible, etc. Though every parent complains about filthy bedrooms, untidy shelves and cabinets, smelly socks, missing stuff, I wonder where is the time! Their inabilty to handle pressure make them defiant in the face of expectations, more prone to anxiety, depression etc.
Problems of teenagers - Health and wellness
Teen health The eating habits of teens are poor and unmonitored. The girls are forced towards an anorexic look (to be popular) and the boys stuff themselves with unhealthy, fatty, high calorie junk food. Teen health is at high risk and its no wonder that this generation now is the victim of every health problem in the book. Wonder of wonders, they survive it all!!
Relaxation and rest. The most important and yet the most ignored item on the teen’s agenda. In an effort to do it all and be it all, the teen sacrifices highly on rest. It is a known fact that teens require about nine hours of sleep but at an average, teens get roughly about seven plus hours of sleep. This is one of the main reasons for performance being negatively affected.
Emotional health. Hormonal changes in the body add to the chaos of strain of scheduling, prioritizing, achieving, fulfilling parental expectations and conforming to peers’ expectation. The teen is unable to effectively handle all this is under considerable emotional pressure. This is reflected in mood swings, aggression, depression and sometimes even a complete break down of the individual. Here is where the skills of parent in parenting teenagers comes into play.
Searching for role models - who are their heroes?
In our schools we find the biggest bully, the richest spoilt brat lording it over all, the ones who break all rules (considered daring) are the most popular.
The media glorifies the people, especially in filmdom, sports, music etc and focuses on the negative aspects of their lives. Our children are fed on a diet that television programs and internet churn out, and are imbibing the values of their heroes as they see them portrayed in the media.
Helping teenagers deal with the problems they face
What a paradox the life of a teenager is today!! The teens today are forced to live on the edge, at a very superficial level with no acceptance and very little positive affirmation from parents, peer pressure, learning to live from the internet and television with no emphasis on moral value or excellence.
What we need is a paradigm shift and a clearer view of our parenting skills.
We need to look at ways to help teens, our parenting skills, stop complaining and take responsibility for what we are exposing our teens to right now.
We cannot afford to ignore the parental duties of bringing them up well from the time they are little. Televisions, computers and other gadgets that they spend most of the time with, cannot give them the nurturing that only parents can.
Provide a healthy and complete meal whenever you pack it or put it on the table. Make vegetables and fruits interesting.
Build lines of communication that are so strong that your children always look at you as allies and not as enemies. Communicate positively and avoid commands and ‘I told you so’ lines. Establish rules for teen driving, discuss and set limits on teen datingetc. and ensure that they conform to those rules. This will tackle the problem of the out of control teenager.
Let them know that you don’t always have all the answers and you too are not always right. Take their opinion and help when ever needed. I always take my son’s input on what concerns him.
Be graceful enough to thank and appreciate them at every possible occasion.
Punishing teenagers does not really work. Disciplining teenagers does.
Be willing to listen to their point of view. Give it a good thought before you trash it. An encouraging and supporting attitude goes a long way.
Fear of failure is one of the greatest reason for stress, help them build self esteem, techniques to program the mind, self affirmation etc could be taught to overcome this.
Teaching techniques of goal achievement, helps them break down goals into smaller, achievable modules and will take much of the stress out of their life .
Look out for sign of stress, anxiety, lack of concentration, poor food intake, poor oral and personal hygiene, disturbance in sleep, plummeting of interest in social activities, address them immediately. It could be teenage depression, get professional help.
Most importantly, let them know that you care!
Wishing you all success!!