Teenagers not only act out in rebellious ways. Sometimes they actually have real teenage problems. As parents, we have to learn how to help.
I have three sons, one which is an adult now, and two others who are teenagers. I have learned that they have real teenage problems. This doesn’t mean they have attitudes, although they do, it means they have pressing issues just like the rest of us.
The truth is, we’ve been looking at teenage problems from the wrong perspective.
Common issues haunting our teens
Now, back to the point. As my children have grown, I’ve noticed how they’ve pulled away from me slightly. I know now why this happened. My boys were facing real teenage problems and just didn’t know how to talk about it. So, I dug deeper and this is what I found.
I will explain a few teenage problems in a certain way so you can understand what your own teen is going through.
1. Managing stress
As children grow older, the stress of school work and social events increases. This doesn’t even include the stress of sports and various extracurricular activities. Most teens haven’t learned to manage their time correctly. Now, if you add dating and electronic media, you can see how a teen would be overwhelmed, especially since they haven’t mastered how to juggle these things.
Now, think about all the times we ask them to clean their rooms and organize their things. Sometimes, to be honest, since they haven’t gotten the hang of time-management, they just cannot get these things done. This is not to say that they don’t need to get better.
But, we must help them and sometimes, cut them some slack.
2. Lack of positive role models
Let’s be honest, the world doesn’t have the best role models right now. Our teens are looking at these role models and basing what they do on undesirable actions. Most of the people who our teens are being trained to look up to are bullies, self-destructive individuals, and spoiled brats.
And you know the media is praising these individuals and actions. You see it every day. I hate to say this but our teens are doomed if there isn’t a change in what we look up to. It’s time for us to change a few role models to provide better guidance for our offspring.
3. Alcohol and drugs
Speaking of role models, many of them are doing drugs and drinking on a regular basis, and yes, our teens are looking up to them. What does this do? Well, apparently, half of the seniors in high school have drunk alcohol or done drugs.
It seems that substance abuse has become a serious teenage problem. These habits are problems for more than one reason. Alcohol and drugs can affect school work, social relations, and even damage the brain. It’s time we focus on this issue instead of what we think is a problem with our teens.
Contrary to what you may have heard, bullying is still a major problem. I remember in high school how bad I was bullied. I could barely walk down the hallways without being called names or shoved onto the floor. It was so bad that I would find excuses to miss school or pretend I was sick just to stay home from school.
Unfortunately, my parents didn’t address the problem because I didn’t really talk to them about it. This still happens today for other children. In fact, about 30% of teens still experience this sort of abuse in one way or the other.
Not only are they attacked physically, but they are attacked emotionally as well. Now, because of social media, our teens are experiencing what’s called cyberbullying, and this can be even worse than physical attacks. We must take this seriously, if not for the fact that our teens are killing themselves in the worst cases.
5. Sexual and risky behavior
Of all teenage problems, this one is the most dreaded and yet most denied behavior to date. Sexual promiscuity is prevalent among more than half of high school students. Although pregnancy rates have declined, the issue is still something that affects and bothers teenagers on a regular basis.
If they aren’t having sexual encounters, they are being pressured to do so. Parents should stop ignoring the fact that risky and sexual behavior is a problem among teens, possibly even their own.
6. Emotional turmoil
Have you noticed lately how your teen seems like they hate you? Yeah, I have been through that once, so now I am doing okay with this. If you’re going through this for the first time with your teen, then it’s hurtful.
It seems like one day they are interested in including you in their lives, and the next they want to get away from you as much as possible. This, however hurtful it may feel, is a normal process. Your teenager is learning to individualize.
It’s hard for the teenager to separate from childhood and make the journey into adulthood, and there’s an internal process that makes them pull away. When this happens, do not return the treatment with neglect.
Make sure to still be there as if they never pulled away. This is actually a serious teenage problem but also a natural process.
7. Physical and mental health issues
Considering teens are going through puberty, they will experience many physical and mental challenges. Sometimes these challenges are much worse than they should be. This is why it is so important that they receive the nutrients needed in their diets and the sleep their body requires.
If your teenager is missing sleep or not getting enough to eat, they will suffer greatly during these few years of change. With this concern, teenagers also face poor body image as well. This sometimes causes them to starve themselves or result to other drastic means of keeping the weight off.
Because of media and society’s standards, teenagers feel like they are always inadequate in some way. We have to put a stop to this immediately.
Other ways we can help with teenage problems
Even though it may not seem like it, teens need some sort of structure in their lives. This structure will help them figure out who they are and what they are supposed to be doing. As parents we can set schedules for chores, prepare balanced meals and always keep lines of communication open.
It’s also important that we limit the amount of time spent with electronic devices, and remind our teens of the importance of face to face socialization. As parents, we should also remember that we can be wrong at times and should apologize to our teens as they apologize to us.
We should thank them and show appreciation for the things they accomplish.
If you are lacking in some of these skills, not to worry. No parent is perfect, and each of us is learning every day, how to be better people. Just take it one step at a time and reach out to your teen.
After all, teenage problems are a part of life, just like the unconditional love we give our children.
Together we can raise a better generation.
By Sherrie H.
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