I took a good look at my teenager, followed him around, interviewed him and other teenagers, did some research, and this is what I found.
Recently, I attended a school program with other parents of teenagers. The conversation was mainly complaints about raising teenagers. Each parent was only adding items to the list of complaints, but offering no solutions. I searched the net, but the result wasn't much different . . . most articles are about how to get your teen to clean their rooms or be more responsible, how to handle rebellious, defiant, out-of-control, aggressive teens . . . but not much is written from the teenager's perspective.
This got me thinking that what we need today is to look at the problem in a different light. I took a good look at the teenager I raise, followed him around, spoke to him awhile, talked with other teenagers, and this is what I found.
10 Most Common Issues Teenagers Face Today
- They suffer from negative body image.
- They long to belong to supportive and accepting communities beyond their family.
- They experience stress and difficulty prioritizing and managing their time.
- They feel lots of pressure from peers, parents, and society to conform to conflicting expectations.
- They are at risk of mental and physical health issues.
- They lack good mentors, role models, and heroes.
- They are tempted to begin unhealthy patterns with drugs and alcohol.
- They are exposed to on-screen violence and unhealthy social media.
- They face bullying—online and off.
- They may participate in risky sexual activity and behavior.
Each of these is described fully below, with suggestions for how a parent can help navigate or avoid these problems.
1. Issues With Body image
During the transition from childhood to adulthood, while their bodies are morphing into new shapes and sizes, teens are struggling to come to terms with their bodies and get comfortable inside their own skins. The cherubic child is gone, and they are left looking at a stranger in the mirror: gawky, gangly, hairy, zitty, and unfamiliar.
- Eating disorders (including anorexia, bulimia, binge-eating, etc.) typically start just before and during adolescence, and 95% of people with eating disorders are between 12 and 25 years old. (SAMHSA). Eating disorders can affect a teen's health, mood, relationships, and day-to-day functioning.
- Eating disorders affect women more than men, but more young men are more prone to something called muscle dysmorphia, where they become unhealthily obsessed with being bigger and more muscular.
- Even if the discontentment with their body doesn't cause them to excessively exercise or make themselves sick, the ongoing and pervasive feeling that their bodies are "not right" can have many lasting negative effects on their lives.
2. An Unmet Need for Community and Identity
I see many teenagers struggling to find a place in society, wanting to be recognized by their peers and accepted for what they are. This is one of the most important tasks of their lives at this juncture, and they are faced with a lot of anxiety and insecurity as they work around this.
When teens get the message that they don't fit in and don't belong here, it can lead to feelings of isolation, disconnect, and depression. The television shows marketed to this age group normalize bullying, premarital sex, aggressive and violent behavior, and rule-breaking. You are cool only if you own all the brands. What is a teen to do? Is it their fault if they are confused, defiant, or out of control?
Take my son as an example. He was brought up to be respectful, helpful, kind, gentle, tolerant, follow moral and biblical principles of honesty, integrity, etc., but in the world, he gets the message that these values are passé. Even his friends don't accept him, though they know that when they are in trouble they can turn to him for help.
He is like most teenagers who haven't yet found a group of friends that accepts and loves them the way they are. This feeling of not belonging is prevalent and affects all aspects of a teen's life.
3. Time-Management Stress
Stress increases at school, and the older they get, the number of projects to be done, tests to cope with, and social drama increases, not to mention sports and other extracurricular activities.
Read More From Wehavekids
On the social front, a new and tantalizing horizon opens up—dating, partying, and hanging out with friends. Meanwhile, they are constantly distracted by electronic media. A teenager learning to juggle all of these expectations is under a lot of stress.
The teen is suddenly expected to act like an adult. They are expected to manage their work independently, make and follow through on the right decisions, and manage their finances.
Though most parents complain about filthy bedrooms, untidy shelves and cabinets, smelly socks, missing stuff, I wonder . . . where is the time!? They simply can't do it all, and the pressure makes them more prone to anxiety and depression.
4. Social and Parental Pressure
Oftentimes, parents live through their children and expect their kids to achieve everything they wanted but did not have. Expecting the teenager to get good grades, have great friends, excel in extracurricular activities, and be well-behaved, responsible for themselves, and sometimes for their younger siblings is a lot of pressure.
Added to this is peer pressure. To be accepted among peers and to become "popular," teens feel pressured to conform in their tastes, behaviors, and appearance.
When all the people surrounding the teenager are attempting to mold him/her into a different shape, the pressure builds. Parents, teachers, family elders, siblings, friends, schoolmates, and social groups all play a part and pull the teenager in different directions.
5. Mental and Physical Health Issues
All of these things affect a teenager's health:
- Poor nutrition. The eating habits of teens are poor and unmonitored. They are urged towards eating disorders, either starving themselves or binging on unhealthy, fatty, high-calorie junk food.
- Lack of sleep. In an effort to do and be it all, the teen sacrifices sleep. They require about nine hours of sleep, but on average, teens get roughly seven hours. This means that every day, they are running at a deficit.
- Depression and anxiety. Hormonal changes, added to the chaos and strain of scheduling, prioritizing, achieving, and fulfilling expectations, put a teen under considerable emotional pressure. This is reflected in mood swings, aggression, depression, anxiety, and sometimes even a complete breakdown.
Mental and physical health are connected. If your teen isn't healthy physically, it will have an effect on his psychology and vice-versa.
6. A Lack of Positive Role Models and Heroes
Often the biggest bullies, richest spoilt brats, and the most self-destructive kids are held up as the most enviable and popular. The media glorifies these people, and bad behavior is applauded in movies, sports, and music. Wherever they go, our children are fed on a diet of lousy role models and are imbibing the depraved values of those "heroes" portrayed in the media.
7. Drugs and Alcohol
- 33.2% of high school seniors in the US reported drinking alcohol within the past month.
- In 2017, by their senior year in high school, 5.9% of teenagers in the US had a daily habit of using marijuana.
- In 2017, an annual survey of drug and alcohol use among teens in the US found that almost 40% of all 12th-graders surveyed had used some kind of illicit drug in the past year, and 55.7% had used alcohol.
Both alcohol and marijuana can damage a teenager's developing brain. It's so important to talk to them to find out what is happening in their school and peer group, discover what they're exposed to, and educate your kid about the dangers.
8. On-Screen Violence and Unhealthy Social Media
When used responsibly, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and other social platforms can be great ways for teens to connect with the world, but when used irresponsibly, they are problematic. Violent video games promote aggression and violence. Going online exposes teens to bad characters, mean people, unhealthy images, porn, violence, and sexual content.
No matter what you do, there's no way to protect them entirely. It's up to parents to know what kids are doing online and teach them how to interact with the internet safely. To learn more, read How Does Social Media Affect Teens?
Approximately 30% of teens in the US have been affected by bullying—either as a victim or as a perpetrator. 1 in 3 students in the US say they have been bullied at school, but now bullying happens online, too. Many don't know that bullying can be direct or indirect, which includes gossip and rumor-spreading. Many kids don't even know what cyberbullying is or fully understand the potentially damaging effect of their online behaviors.
10. Risky Sexual Activity and Behavior
According to the National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS), more than half of teenagers in the US have had sex by age 18. Although there has been a decline in teen pregnancy in recent years, that doesn't necessarily mean they are using protection: Out of 20 million new STD diagnoses each year, more than half of those affected are between the ages of 15 and 24.
Despite the facts, surveys consistently show that most parents don't think their children are sexually active. Again, it's so important to talk to your kids about sex, even if you don't think they're having it.
Helping Teens Deal With the Problems They Face
Teens today are forced to live at a very superficial level, on the edge of society, with no acceptance and very little positive affirmation. They are expected to learn how to live from the internet and television, where they find little emphasis on moral value or personal excellence. What a paradox is the life of a teenager is today!
What Can Parents Do to Help Their Teenagers?
What we need is a paradigm shift of who our teens are and a clearer view of our role as parents.
- We need to look at ways to help teens, amp up our parenting skills, stop complaining, and take responsibility for our teens right now.
- We cannot ignore our parental duties. Even though they're in their teens, they still need us, just as they did when they were little. Cell phones, computers, and other gadgets that they spend time with cannot give them the nurturing they need.
- 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 to you as allies instead of enemies. Communicate positively and avoid commands and I-told-you-sos.
- Discuss and establish rules for chores, homework, driving, dating, sex, and drug and alcohol use. Keep talking about all these issues.
- Let them know that you don’t always have all the answers and you are not always right. Listen to their opinions and offer help whenever needed.
- Be graceful enough to thank, appreciate, and love them at every possible occasion.
- Punishing teenagers does not really work, but disciplining teenagers does. Make sure your policies are helping instead of hurting.
- 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 reasons for stress, so help them manage their anxiety and build self-esteem.
- Look out for signs of stress, anxiety, lack of concentration, poor eating habits, poor oral and personal hygiene, disturbances in sleep, and plummeting of interest in social activities, and address them immediately.
- If your teen shows any signs of anxiety or depression, get them help immediately.
- Most importantly, let them know that you care!
Wishing you all success!
Kids go where there is excitement. They stay where there is love.
— Zig Ziglar
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.
Questions & Answers
Question: As a teenager, what can I do to live a holy life?
Answer: Read your Bible and follow what it tells you. No one has better counsel than the holy scriptures.
I would love to hear from you ....
Shauna waddell on July 30, 2020:
I want to move forwards towards my boyfriend justin wright
oprah on June 30, 2020:
thank you so much for this article.i am a teenager myself and still going through the struggles mentioned above and really taking everything a step at a time .
maria on June 21, 2020:
I'm a teanager myself. I feel like I am lost. Because my life isn't simple. And what I thought was this is only my problem. Thanks for this article it helped me realise that many teanagers face many problems like I do. I really appreciate you for writing this article. Thank you so much. It opened my eyes. May God bless you.
Neville Reay on May 31, 2020:
i liked the way you described the problems of teenagers and the remedy.I am a teacher.
Scott Golden on February 19, 2020:
I was surprised to notice that you haven't included in your list of issues, commonly experienced by teenagers, the matter of Sexual Orientation and struggling to come to terms with being Gay / Lesbian or Gender Dysphoria.
It is well known that this is the source of considerable anxiety for teenagers and may lead to many incidents of fear, depression, self-harm and even suicide!
I think it is worthy of inclusion in its own right, and note that you haven't even touched upon it specifically neither alluded to it which I feel is remiss.
Perhaps you might consider it when you are updating your blog.
Gamers rise up on January 21, 2020:
"Violent video games promote aggression and violence."
This is fricking false. The fact that parents even think this only makes me realize how much like boomers they are.
Ashutosh singh Maura on January 16, 2020:
Very impressive and nice key points
helped me a lot
gelliefer aga on November 18, 2019:
I have a public speaking lesson and this article really pick my attention...i also experienced most of the information you wrote on my past teen years and it also opened my eyes because i have my kids too...i'm looking forward for other informative articles you will be posting,God bless you
Nikki on October 20, 2019:
I really appreciate and like this article. And I really agree that teenagers also have a tough time. I'm a teenager myself, and I feel like there's too much pressure from parents, friends, peers, school, society, and how nobody understands what me or other teenagers are facing at all.
Sharon on October 17, 2019:
Thanks for the information
it really helped me so much , I even took notes from this
hope to learn more
Madhav on September 27, 2019:
Thankyu very much for this i am very thankful to the person who has provided such a marvelous information and solutions regarding that i loved it seriously
Derrick Rose on September 09, 2019:
Thanks for this
Derrick allen on September 04, 2019:
thank you for the research in all of this. i am writing a book geared towards teens and the problems that they face in today's society. this helped a lot
Duane on August 14, 2019:
thank you! I'm a young Youth Pastor and I really do want to connect with my kids not just dumping information at them.
Ogbodo precious O on August 09, 2019:
This is so helpful
... on July 09, 2019:
thanks! really helpful!
Jane on June 30, 2019:
This might help
Karm on June 12, 2019:
This was a very big help to my thesis tank's
Faye on May 18, 2019:
Wow! This is sooooo helpful!!! I'm not a parent but this will guide me in influencing teenagers around me. Thank you so much!!!!
No name on May 12, 2019:
This help me for my project
Anne Moriarty on April 01, 2019:
Thx! I found this article to be very helpful. I'm a tapping (EFT) coach working with teens, kids and families so I'm always on the lookout for info on what's going on in their lives. This article validates much of what I believed to be true for teens, which is helpful when I'm working with them to relieve stress and release trauma.
I especially appreciate the solutions you offer. Like you, I hear a lot of complaints and not as much focus on problem-solving. I'm committed to being part of the solution, to give them tools which minimize the natural body tendency to hang onto negative energy and thereby create unhealthy patterns and actions.
I signed up so I can follow this group.
Debbie on March 04, 2019:
This helped me a lot. Awesome
great on February 11, 2019:
great information; helped me with my essay!
eya on February 06, 2019:
i like that very much
we need to know more about ourself
i hope parents can understand this
and support their children
Akshay on January 10, 2019:
it helped me very much and is very motivational
Tùng on December 02, 2018:
Good page it will help me alot
Sophie (author) on November 26, 2018:
Thanks for taking the time to read it. Greatly appreciated.
Aganyo on November 26, 2018:
Thanks for the article, i liked going through it
Sophie (author) on November 16, 2018:
Glad you think so
Fzeeshan on November 16, 2018:
all of it is extremely trueeeeee
Sophie (author) on November 06, 2018:
That is life. Being able to prioritize and manage your time is important too.
Cj on October 30, 2018:
I agree I always have bullshit homework that I wish I could die cometimes bc of how much there is and like I need to deal with homework and my girlfriend so it’s very hard
alex dibdobs fawcett on September 26, 2018:
no u wrong
haonda on September 10, 2018:
how teen settle money problem
Kajal Agarwal on August 05, 2018:
arjun on June 28, 2018:
It has helped me to know about teen and their problems
arjun on June 28, 2018:
It has helped me to know about teen and their problems
Shianne on June 17, 2018:
well I'm a teen and what I have to say is that this year ive been bullied and yes that causes a lot of stress. yes I do know this I have depression because of school and yes I dont like it but thats life and we need to take care about it
Miz on February 05, 2018:
Really good.... I hope every parent reads n realises this though n try to understand teens.... it’s difficult coping up without parents trusting u... like ssly my parents wud still think tht I’m at fault even after reading something like this
Minerva Rodriguez on December 13, 2017:
Just found your articles, do you want to read more. Will put some advice and ideas in practice hoping to be able to help my child heal. Thanks.
kidatschooldoingreserch on December 05, 2017:
not good for a texan.
wEST on October 25, 2017:
Wow great article
Dione on October 24, 2015:
I feel like every single point here is my life. Help me!
rose on August 01, 2015:
many of a teens problem of family so the child not found it
so u can love your child
tanya on June 01, 2014:
AnnaHudson on April 02, 2014:
Thank you for such an insightful and considerate article! I'm thinking about a series for young adults that include some of these issues. Thanks again! Oh, one last thing, God bless you!
deeshana on February 26, 2014:
serious man its very informative im lovin it .serious atleast one person in this whole universe understands teenagers feelings and hope parents to understand and encourage the same way instead of cribbing .
AHALYA 2014 TAMILNADU on January 15, 2014:
Teens are getting depreesion because of schools activities . a very topic
STRESS & STRAIN FACED BY TEENAGERS i am looking forward for many topics. BYE .......... ,......
simon paul sutton on November 03, 2013:
Great article covering some key points and solutions and spreading awareness in the areas most shy away from. The sooner all see that the teenagers of today create our culture and society for the next generations the better. Many talk of creating a new earth but look at the core creators and what they endure. If we set the foundations right for our youth then the rest takes care of itself in terms of functioning society and communication. Thank you for the post
Avinesh Prahladi from Chandigarh on October 10, 2013:
It is very important that you listen to the teens and while doing this, make sure that you are calm and composed. Understanding what they are trying to express is very important, this will build a confidence in them that at least someone is there for them all the time.
Avinesh Prahladi from Chandigarh on September 22, 2013:
Being a father of a teenager, I found that this hub was quite helpful to me. It was good to know the things that can help in the ideal upbringing of your kid. Well, I will definitely keep the discussed things in mind, so that I could be a better parent.
Ebonny from UK on July 30, 2013:
A thought provoking read. Thank you for sharing. Voted up etc.
mathira from chennai on July 14, 2013:
sofs, excellent hub. This transition period from childhood to adolescence is the toughest period faced by the parent as well as by the child.
buikees v a on July 13, 2013:
greatly helped us.
angel on April 23, 2013:
wow! you've created a very inspirational and motivational topics about teenager's life!a love it.. i hope you'll write some ways on how would teenagers love themselves more and avoid stupid insecurity.. =)
soul burgers on April 08, 2013:
Keep going ...nice start...
poonam on March 14, 2013:
too much perfect pointz :)
Arati Suryawanshi on February 28, 2013:
Wonderful information but sadly no share is provided.
arshia on February 11, 2013:
great and awesome..............
sssseeeee on January 31, 2013:
gagri on January 19, 2013:
Darren Curtis from Reading, UK on December 29, 2012:
This is a great article and fits really well with the book "I'm a parent get me out of here, before I kill my teenager", which was written to help parents change the way they deal with their child or teenager and help the communication process.
unknown on October 07, 2012:
every teenager and even parent should visit this sight and solve all the problems that are faced by the teenagers..............................................
kylzkie on October 05, 2012:
hai thankz for this article.. it helps me a lot in doing a script in our activity in school regarding tha teenagers problem and a good way in solving this.... thankz a lot...
vimbai on September 26, 2012:
This is so true.Thank you wish to read more...
tamar on September 18, 2012:
shnatiea gibson on September 15, 2012:
well my intex on this is that in many cases some people look to teen as a bad person . and i hope this chapter in my book inrail alot because we are ot bad but in our own eyes just trying to fit in with the crowd it sometimes best to not be a follower but to go your own way
Sophie (author) on September 10, 2012:
KK20girl, Thanks. Appreciate that!
kk202girl on September 06, 2012:
great information really good
Sophie (author) on July 13, 2012:
Thanks Rathi. Have a great day.
rathi on July 12, 2012:
info's quite good and helpful
Sophie (author) on July 04, 2012:
ljeoma, you need to live for the values you believe in , not to make a mark on someone.. you will eventually do that when you live according to the high standards you set for yourself. Best wishes to you.