Big Ten Teen Pressures:
Times have changed a lot since you were a teenager. Sure, every teen is worried about being popular, but for today’s teens, that’s just the tip of the iceberg. Take a closer look at some of the pressures your teen faces today, and learn how you can help
Kids are beginning to worry about their body image at a young age, even as young as age 8. Everywhere they turn, they are presented with the “ideal” person.
Adolescence is a time when your child is searching for their personal identity. Teens are searching for how to fit into their world, so consequently they explore different ones that might work. Teens emulate who they respect and crave their attention which is why it is important to be mindful of their associations.
Teens feel like they need to have sex to be accepted or liked. They feel pressure to send sexually explicit photos, not understanding all of the risk that comes with it. Sex is used as way to gain popularity, or to maintain a relationship. We see sexting occurring in students as early at the 4/5 grades.
4. Drugs and Alcohol.
No matter how much you try to shelter or protect your kids, they will most likely end up in a situation where drugs and alcohol are present. It is important to talk to your child about how to handle the situation when it presents itself and how to remove themselves in a way to "save face". It is also important for them to understand the long term consequences of drinking/using drugs that are much different than when we were younger.
Bullies will often pick on others to make themselves feel better. It doesn’t just occur in the schoolyard anymore. It happens on social media sites, text messages, blogs, instant messaging, and gaming. There is no escape for victims. Many parents are not monitoring all of these avenues which makes the teen responsible for resolving the issues on their own with a very limited skill set.
They are in a competition with their peers to be the best and the brightest in everything. Good grades are not enough. Their resumes have to be stacked with extracurricular activities and volunteer work leaving little or no down time. Many of our students report getting very little sleep due to the pressures they are under from all that is expected of them. Teaching our children balance is key to help with these stressors.
Being behind the wheel can be terrifying in the beginning. Your kids will feel the stress of driving to your standards and the pressure of not wrecking the car.
As kids get older, the pressure to improve and win increases dramatically. They face the pressure of making the team, gaining playing time, and pressure to sign with a college. Conversely, it is very difficult for children who are used to participating in athletics and don't make the team. Often times these children get lost if they do not get involved with another healthy outlet. This is where #2 comes back into play regarding acceptance. Children are susceptible to risky decision making when they feel like they do not fit into a group.
Financial stressors include: gas money, college, paying for dates, hanging out with friends, clothing, music, athletic gear, and school dances to name a few. Most teens are struggling with independence and do not want to go to their parents any more than they need to so they shoulder as much as they can on their own.
10. Growing Up
Your kids will feel pressure to grow up. Their eyes will be opened to the adult world, losing the safety of their current life. This is a time of a lot of stress and anxiety but most teens are unlikely to see how that stress affects them.
How to talk to your teen about the pressure they face.
Here’s how you can help your teen handle the many pressures he/she faces today:
- Appreciate how different their world is from when you were a teen.
- Be involved.
- Encourage other adults (coaches, older sibling, etc.) to be active in your teen’s life as well.
- Challenge your teen to be an individual or a leader, not a follower, and encourage independence and integrity.
- Focus on the positives instead of criticizing. Praise your teen’s special talents and nurture his/her interests.
- Entertainment and advertising have a bigger influence on teens when it comes to substance use, sexual behavior, body image and gender roles than they might acknowledge. Set and enforce limits on your teen’s media use.
- Avoid commenting on your teen’s appearance – instead, focus on health. Use everyday opportunities such as watching TV together, to start a dialogue about topics like drug use and sex. Communicate your values and expectations, and talk about the risks.
- Watch TV and movies with your teen so you can better connect and discuss the messages they send about body image and other expectations.
- Model and teach positive stress management and coping skills.
- Listen carefully and watch to make sure your teen isn’t overloaded.
- Provide your teen with opportunities for debate and independent decision-making.
- If you suspect your teen may be taking part in bullying, find out the reason for the behavior. Make it clear that your teen is not permitted to engage in bullying and if needed, check in with teachers and other school officials.