14-year-old Kevin was coming home late from school almost every day. He also seemed moody and distracted at home. He grew his hair long, was doing poorly at school and ate little. When his mother found a cigarette in his jacket, she knew there was a problem.
Adolescence is the age of change. It is a vulnerable time when kids can develop unhealthy habits that grow into problems in their adult life. Behavior issues of adolescence, which are quite common, also crop up during this time, making it impossible for parents to reach out to their teenagers. MomJunction explains the major problems of adolescence and how you can help your children avoid or come out of them.
How To Deal With Common Problems Of Adolescence
Adolescence is not an easy time for kids or parents. The only way to deal with needs and problems at this age is to know about them and be ready to face them. Here is our list of the most common problems, and their solutions that adolescents have to deal with.
Physical changes happen due to change in the teenager’s hormone levels. Development of full breasts in girls can be awkward in the beginning. Girls may start to feel conscious about their figure.
Change of voice and appearance of facial hair in boys is perhaps the most prominent change that takes place during adolescence. Acne is one of the major problems. Muscle gain sometimes leads to excessive body weight in teens. The growth of pubic hair in girls and boys. Body odor becomes evident. Girls start their periods.
The best way you can do to help your teenager get through the stage is to make them aware of these changes. Explain that it is normal for the body to change as every teenager goes through it!
Help them adapt to these changes – acknowledge the change and help them accept it. Enable them to stay healthy and fit through a nutritious diet and exercise.
Emotional changes and problems
Hormones affect your teenager not only physically but also emotionally. Adolescence is the age between adulthood and childhood. Teenagers are often confused about their role and are torn between their responsibilities as growing adults and their desires as children. They tend to feel overly emotional (blame it on the hormones). Just about anything and everything can make them happy, excited, mad or angry.
Adolescent girls are vulnerable to crying. Mood swings are common among teenage boys and girls. Bodily changes result in self-consciousness. Children who hit puberty early may even feel weird. Feelings of inferiority or superiority may arise at this time. Adolescence is the age when sexual feelings arise in youngsters. Feelings and thoughts about sex can trigger a sense of guilt.
Puberty can be an emotional roller-coaster ride. And it is normal. Here is how you can help your kid deal with these emotional problems of adolescence. Assist them to take care of themselves. Tell your teenagers that it is okay to feel the way they are feeling. Encourage them to exercise as physical activity helps keep the serotonin (creates good feelings and happiness) levels up.
Let them talk. Listen to them without judging and avoid giving them advice when they are not ready for it. Share your experiences of puberty or let them talk to an older sibling who has gone through the same. It will emphasize that it is okay to feel the way they do. Indulging in a creative activity can help them channelize their emotions.
Overwhelming emotions can lead to impulsive behavior, which can be harmful to your child as well as others. Mostly, it is just teen behavior that will last as long as their adolescence. Adolescence is the time when kids develop and exercise their independence. This can give rise to questioning the parents’ rules (seen as argumentative) and standing up for what they believe is right (seen as stubbornness).
Significant developmental change in the brain makes teens moody, tired and difficult to deal with. The raging hormones in teenage boys can even push them to get into physical confrontations. They would also want to listen to loud music. As a part of their new-found independence, adolescents may also want to try new things and take risks, resulting in careless behavior.
Sometimes, peer pressure and the need to ‘fit in’ can make them behave in a certain way or develop certain habits that are hard to break. Your teen’s dressing, hairstyle, and sense of fashion also change, mostly to something that you may not approve of. The most troubling behavior is perhaps your teen hanging out with problem kids and adapting to a dangerous lifestyle. Lying is one of the common teen behavioral issues. Teens may lie to avoid confrontation with parents or out of fear.
Behavioral problems in adolescence can make life difficult for parents. But remember that it is a passing phase, and is entirely normal. Gaining your child’s trust is important if you want to help him with behavioral issues. Talk to them and listen to what they have to say. Do not judge or criticize them, as it could worsen their behavior.
Let them know that you love them just as they are. Encourage them to be true to themselves and not take on a personality just to please others. Remember that your adolescent child is not completely independent in dealing with his emotions and needs your support.
Help him by telling him what you do when you are feeling sad, angry, jealous, etc. He can try those solutions to come out of his own emotional issues. You will have to intervene if you see them falling into bad company. Remember that adolescents are sensitive and may not take criticism well.
Substance Use and Abuse
Teenagers are vulnerable and can be easily swayed to the wrong side. Substance abuse is one of the biggest problems that parents of adolescents around the world have to deal with. Peer pressure is one of the significant factors that drive adolescents to take up smoking and drinking or to do drugs.
The tendency to take risk encourages most teens to try smoking or drinking even before they are of legal age. What may start as a ‘thrill’, can become a habit if it remains unchecked. If there is somebody who smokes or drinks at home, they can become your teen’s role models.
Poor self-esteem and the need to be ‘cool’ can push adolescents to smoke or drink. Easy access to substances like cigarettes, alcohol, drugs, and anabolic steroids may increase the temptation to try illicit substances.
Keep an eye on your child’s behavior. Look for erratic behavior and change in his or her appetite, sleep patterns, and moods. Do not spy on them or accuse them of any wrongdoing. Encourage them to talk and be honest. Tell them what your concerns are and discuss the problem with them.
If your child is not willing to talk to you, the doctors can ask confidential questions to know if they are abusing any substances. Avoid going as far as a drug test, as that may come across as confrontational and threaten the kid. If necessary, get your adolescent the appropriate treatment.
High school is not all about fashion, friends, and parties. Kids also have a lot of educational activities on their plate. The pressure to perform academically and obtain college admission can be stressful and make your teenager moody. Juggling schoolwork, extra-curricular activities (must for college admissions) and chores at home can be tiring. Distractions at school can result in poor academic performance, which will add to the pressure.
Support your kid’s aspirations for college education as what they need is the encouragement to do well. You could cut down their household chores to enable them to focus on their school projects when needed. Nutrition and exercise can help them get the strength and endurance they need to get through the hectic high school period.
If you feel your child is getting overwhelmed with his daily activities, cut down on a few tasks because adolescents still don’t have the lung capacity of an adult and get tired sooner than a grown-up person.
When You Know, You Can Help
You may have been a teenager yourself. But once you become a parent to a teen, you seem clueless. Think about it – your adolescent is at an age that you have already been through. Be empathetic and try to understand what your child is going through. That makes dealing with their problems easier.
Do you have any tips on how to deal with adolescence problems? Tell us about them in our comments section. 🙂 🙂