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How to Understand Your Teenage Child | Insights Into the Teenage Journey

Introduction

When a baby is born, many parents do not anticipate their adorable, cuddly baby to become an awkward teenager.


A child's teenage years are the building blocks for the rest of their life. The teenage years are considered tough because issues that seem trivial to us are a big deal to teenagers.


Every emotion that teenager feels is heightened, and they have not developed the ability to reason, rationalize and solve problems like adults.


Parenting correctly is a tough job, and being a parent to a teenager is a bigger responsibility. Therefore, in order to be a supportive parent, it is crucial to understand teenagers and the issues they face.

Teenager

 

Understanding Teenage Development

This time is when kids go through many changes in and around them. These changes are in the form of physical, social, emotional, and cognitive changes. This is when the children stop feeling carefree and start getting awkward about themselves.


A child in his pre-teen years feels only a handful of emotions like anger, hunger, fear, and happiness. However, in the teenage years, the child starts feeling a lot of emotions like stress, worry, jealousy, attraction, anxiety, etc.

These emotions are often overwhelming for teenagers as they do not know how to handle or manage their emotions like adults.


Teenagers need understanding from the adults around them. Teenage years shape an individual. Adults who were ignored and not handled with compassion during their teenage years often develop mental health issues like anxiety, depression, and anger management issues.

Teenage

 

Common Challenges Faced by Teenagers

Let us have a look at some common challenges faced by teenagers:


Anxiety and Depression


Being in a constant state of worry and self-doubt may push the teenager into depression. Since teenagers cannot identify their symptoms, it is even more dangerous. Suicide rates among teenagers are rising at an alarming rate.


Nearly 20% of high school students report serious thoughts of suicide, and 9% have made an attempt to take their lives, according to the National Alliance on Mental Illness.


Academic problems


Facing issues like bullying, constant self-doubt, and lack of confidence can result in academic performance being deteriorated. In India, academic performance is often treated as the parameter to judge the character of a teenager.

Teenagers who are not able to perform well in studies are looked down upon. They are humiliated by their parents and relatives alike.


Peer Pressure and Influence


Teenagers often seek validation from their peers. As a result, they might do actions that are very unlikely to them. Teens may become aggressive, condescending, or even rude to appear cool in front of their peers.


They often try to wear certain kinds of clothes or use particular gadgets to impress their peers.


Identity Formation


Many teenagers feel different from the gender assigned to them at their birth. This invokes a feeling of self-doubt. They end up feeling that they are abnormal. Similarly, some teenagers have different sexual orientations.


In a homophobic society like ours, homosexuals are mocked in movies and looked down upon by people. Teenagers who identify with a different gender have a different sexual orientation and find it hard to fit in with the mass.


School Bullying


Almost one out of every four students (22%) report being bullied during the school year (National Center for Educational Statistics, 2015).


This often hurts the self-respect of the bullied and results in self-doubt and misery. School bullying can make a long-lasting imprint on the child's brain, often resulting in permanent trauma.


Cyber Bullying


With the age of the internet, bullies are now finding it easier to target individuals from behind a screen. The bullies harass individuals by abusing, mocking, threatening, or even sending offensive messages to the bullied.

The fact that cyberbullying is hard to trace makes bullies feel brave about committing such acts.


Eating Disorder


Teenagers often find solace in food, and this results in them developing an unhealthy relationship with food. This is the time when most individuals develop eating disorders like binge eating, bulimia nervosa, and anorexia nervosa.


Unrealistic beauty standards are also a contributing factor to eating disorders. Teenagers often try to attain a certain body size or weight in order to achieve what society thinks is beautiful.

Teenage

 

Parenting and Supporting Teenagers


When your teenager is driving you up against the wall, that is the time when he needs you the most. Instead of screaming at them or imposing harsh punishments like grounding or confiscating their gadgets, try sitting them down and talking the issue out.


The following are key points to keep in mind while dealing with teenagers:


Effective Communication


Communication is the key to all problems. If you feel that your teenager is acting differently, there might be an underlying issue that needs to be addressed.

Maybe they are getting bullied, maybe they are feeling anxious lately, or maybe they just had a rough breakup with one of their friends. Try finding out what is going on in their life.


Setting Boundaries and Rules

Boundaries and space are not just crucial for adults but for teenagers too. Maintain a healthy choice of words when talking to them.


They are growing up and have a sense of self-respect now. They just want to be treated as adults. At the same time, ensure that they are following the right etiquette that you have taught them since childhood.


Encouraging Independence and Responsibility


At the end of the day, teenagers want to be treated like adults. At this stance, giving them responsibilities and encouraging them to make their own decisions would contribute towards their cognitive brain development.


Supporting Mental Health


If you feel that there is an underlying mental health issue that you are not able to address and identify, encourage them to take therapy.

There is no harm in talking to a professional when it comes to mental health. Support them when they say that they are depressed instead of telling them that it is just a phase.


Reducing Restrictions


Imposing too many restrictions would hinder your child from becoming street-smart and confident. Lift some of the restrictions like not allowing them to talk to the opposite gender, not letting them go out with friends, not letting them have friends over, etc.


This would make your teenager question your authority because they cannot find reasonings behind such restrictions. So please do away with such restrictions for good.

Problems of a teenager

 

In a Nutshell


The teenage years are that awkward stage when your child is neither a kid nor an adult. This is a phase when your child needs your support and understanding the most, even if it doesn't seem like so.


Proper parenting can make your child's life easy in the coming years ahead. Do not take too much pressure on yourself and trust these guidelines. If needed, you can take therapy as well. There are therapies for parents, too, where they are guided on how to understand a teenager.

Happy parenting!



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