Adolescents are vulnerable emotionally and physically. Without proper nutrition and healthcare, they are susceptible to illnesses. According to a 2018 WHO report, 1.3 million adolescents died, a majority of who had preventable diseases.
Teenagers have a hectic schedule as they hop from one activity to another with little time to eat or rest properly. Unhealthy eating habits prevent them from getting the nutrition they need.
Consciousness about their body can lead to eating disorders, especially in girls. Adolescent girls who worry about their weight and appearance can develop disorders like anorexia or bulimia. Stress can also lead to loss of appetite and sleeplessness in young children.
Unhealthy eating habits and a less active lifestyle could also lead to obesity this is often the case when your child consumes a lot of empty calories through fast food and sodas.
Parental guidance can help abate health problems in adolescence to maintain a healthy lifestyle. Lead by example and encourage your children to eat healthy food, exercise right and sleep on time.
Ensure they get nutrition through their meals. Give them a balanced diet. Be there for them emotionally and physically as this will help them deal with any possible disorders.
Research has revealed that around 50% of mental health disorders that adults have, begin at the age of 14. In fact, one-third of adolescent deaths are suicides triggered by depression. If your child is overly moody and is not eating or sleeping at all, it is imperative you get professional help for them.
Teenagers may have self-esteem or confidence issues. The feelings of inferiority or superiority often arise from their appearance, and acceptance of their body – skin color, beauty, and figure.
Poor performance in academics and low IQ can also demotivate them. They develop the ‘I’m not good enough’ attitude towards life. Depression is one of the common psychological problems associated with adolescence.
The stress and pressure of adolescence can create anxiety related issues, while mood swings can lead to conduct disorder or oppositional defiant disorder.
Eating disorders are also psychosomatic as they start with the adolescent having a poor self-image and the need to change the way they look by any means.
While moodiness and temper tantrums are normal in teenage girls and boys, they may not always be what they seem. Identifying symptoms of psychological problems in adolescence is not easy and needs the eye of an expert.
Most of the time, talking about the problems and maintaining a healthy lifestyle can prevent the onset of depression. If your child is overly moody and cynical, it is time to intervene and seek professional help if necessary.
Sometimes, your teenage girl or boy may be unhappy only at home, and doing fine outside. Talk to the child’s teachers and friends to know if they are moody and disoriented at school as well. If they are, then it is a cause for concern.
Do not brush away their feelings, as that can make things worse. Encourage them to communicate with you. For this, you need to talk to them. If you think your child would not take it easy, talk to him in the car where the chances of confrontation are fewer as you are not face-to-face.
Social problems – dating and relationships
Attraction to the opposite sex begins during puberty. Adolescence is the time when their sexual or reproductive organs start developing. At such a vulnerable time, it is but natural for kids to feel awkward in social situations.
Teenagers want to have an identity of their own. They tend to look up to role models at home or outside. Adolescents also start thinking about what is ‘right’ and ‘wrong’ and question your take on certain things.
They need time to understand and get comfortable with their sexuality. Girls and boys start experiencing ‘weird’ feelings towards the other sex and may not know what to do about it.
This is the time they start dating. Your adolescent may not be comfortable talking to you about it and may go with little information or misinformation they have about it.
Competition is another important aspect of a teenager’s social life. Your child may compete with her peers in about anything and everything. Their spirit of competition speaks a lot about their perception of self – whether they have a positive self-esteem or a negative one.
Sexual feelings and thoughts of sex may seem wrong to an adolescent, because of which they may feel guilty. Their social circle expands during this time as they seem occupied interacting with friends on social media sites, through their phone and outside.
Here is how you can deal with the social problems of adolescence. Dating, romance, and sex are delicate issues that your teenager may not be comfortable talking about. Don’t make it more awkward for your child. Be confident and rational when discussing the subject.
Your child may seem to spend more time outside than with you. Accept that your adolescents are discovering a whole new world. Just let them know you are there when they need you. Sharing your dating and social life experiences in school can put them at ease sometimes.
Sexual health – unplanned pregnancy and STIs
The development of secondary sexual characteristics during adolescence gives rise to new feelings in teenagers and pushes them to experiment with their bodies. Adolescence is the time when teens experience their first kiss, the intimate dance with their ‘boyfriend’ or ‘girlfriend’ and secret make-out sessions.
Without proper guidance, teenagers may become sexually active before they are ready. This could result in unwanted pregnancies. Unwanted pregnancy is the biggest risk that adolescent girls face. Unprotected sex can also lead to sexually transmitted diseases like HIV.
Have ‘the talk’ with your kids as they may already be learning about sexual health and reproduction at school. Your duty as a parent is to ensure that they understand the importance of safe sex.
The hormonal changes in teenagers may make them act impulsively. Your teen may not like it but it is important that you talk to them about the consequences of unprotected sex and how it can change their life. Awareness is the only way to prevent early pregnancies and sexually transmitted infections (STIs) in adolescents.
Addiction to cyberspace
The advent of social media has changed the way we interact with each other. It has affected teenage lifestyles the most. Your teen may seem to spend hours on phone, texting, talking or simply playing.
Adolescents addicted to the internet tend to have fewer friends and a less active social life. They lead solitary lives and are happily browsing the internet for hours.
Addiction to cyberspace also cuts short their physical activities, resulting in an unhealthy and sedentary lifestyle. Internet addiction adversely impacts academic performance.
Do not assume that your child is addicted to the internet just because he or she spends a lot of time in front of the computer. They could be doing more productive things on the system other than surfing the net.
Do not say ‘no’ to the Internet. That will only make them adamant. Instead, talk about your concerns and help them work on other things that do not require a computer.
You could use parental controls, but that may not be taken well by your teen – remember that they are not kids anymore. At the same time, they may also not have the judgment to make the right choices. So guide them as a parent, but never decide for them.
Enroll them in activities that encourage them to interact with others. Have family activities that will make them want to spend less time at the computer.
Have some cyber rules and boundaries for everybody at home. Limit the use of the mobile phone to a few hours in a day, and avoid bringing the phone to the bedroom as it is likely to affect a person’s sleep.
Aggression and violence
Aggression is especially a concern with adolescent boys. Young boys start to develop muscles, grow tall and have a coarser, manly voice. In addition to that, they are moody and vulnerable and can let others get under their skin.
Adolescent boys can get into fights at school. Worse, they could start bullying others, which is a major problem that adolescent boys and girls have to deal with. Boys may fall into bad company and be drawn to acts of violence, vandalism, and aggression. They could be easily swayed to own or use a firearm or a weapon too.
Impulse acts of violence can lead to serious consequences, including death. According to the WHO report, interpersonal violence causes around 180 adolescent deaths around the world. Teenage girls are likely to suffer violence or aggression by a partner.
Children tend to imitate what they see at home. The following remedies for problems of adolescence will help abate aggression, violence, and related issues. Teach your children to be kind and considerate. Nurturing relationships at home can help them become less aggressive.
Prevent access to firearms and alcohol early to prevent violence. Teach them life skills and the importance of compassion. Lead them by being their model. Avoid exposing them to violent stories, games or movies at an age when they cannot differentiate between what is right and wrong.
Make them try alternative ways, such as going for a run, doing yoga or using a punching bag, for venting out their anger. This way, they understand that it is alright to be angry but how they deal with it makes all the difference. 🙂 🙂