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Though teenage is a very difficult period of life to navigate, there are some ways you can help your teen be slightly more self-confident!
Teenage can be a particularly difficult time to navigate. Hormones are raging and a myriad of physical and emotional changes are taking place. A teenager’s sense of self can be especially vulnerable when subjected to criticisms or threats in the following areas: looks, grades, personality types, financial standing, social class and status among their peers. However, all is not gloom and doom during adolescence. These are mere negative aspects of what is truly a transitional, joyous and youthful phase of one’s life.
Teenage is a period of time when one discovers oneself. From hidden talents to new friendships, they assume greater independence and autonomy from parental control.
In fact, teenage is a wonderful opportunity for teenagers to put in an effort at what they are good at and what comes naturally to them. This sustained effort could lead them to the path of excellence in their chosen field. It could become a lifelong career or hobby.
Forming friendships are another integral part of teenage social life. As someone once said, ‘Man is a social animal.’ They need the company and camaraderie of fellow beings to feel connected and loved by others. Social networks offer companionship in times of stress. They are very soothing and comforting when chosen wisely by the judicious and discerning teenager.
Another advantage of being accrued from reaching maturity is the accompanying independence and self-reliance. Some parents may choose to give a little bit more freedom to their teenager, now that they are no longer a child. This could be a golden opportunity if utilised wisely by the teenager.
Making mistakes during teenage is to be treated as part of a learning process and not to be frowned upon. Instead, one can realise one’s fullest potential only through trial and error situations.
However, teenage is definitely not a bed of roses for some. One might be teased and bullied for their looks. Poor self-image and body-image may ensue. They may develop a distorted view of themselves in the eyes of others and magnify their flaws and shortcomings.
The mass media does little to help, it perpetuates the ideal standards of beauty as objective criteria. This may result in teens suffering everything in silence. They may develop eating disorders or self-harm behaviour or in extreme cases attempt killing themselves. Some may even resort to some drastic measures like cosmetic surgery to ‘correct’ or modify their ‘flaws.’ Throughout this process, their self-worth and self-confidence will take a huge blow!
Victims of cyberbullying may suffer in silence as their hackers or bullies torment them online. The anonymous bully cannot be tracked down or identified in the virtual world of social networking sites. Bringing them under the eye of the law or stopping them may be difficult., Thus, making them go unreported. Posting offensive comments and photographs of them online can force the victim to live in shame and keep a low profile in public.
Academic excellence is yet another benchmark for gauging a teenager’s sense of self-esteem. Academically brilliant students often develop a superiority complex that they are smarter than others. Meanwhile, their less academically-inclined peers tend to suffer from an insidious form of inferiority complex.
Thus, they internalise labels that teachers, parents and peers impose on them, such as being stupid and lazy. These do not fade with time. In fact, they gain a strong foothold in their minds as they grow older and become entrenched false beliefs about self. They may fail to notice or improve their other talents as a result of the education system prizing academic performance above all else.
Another aspect of worry and negative feelings is their personality type. Introverted and shy teenagers may be picked on by bullies and made to feel small due to their reserved nature. In stark contrast, their extrovert peers may excel in leadership roles, fuelling inferiority complex in the introverts and a superiority complex in the extroverts.
A lack of social skills can hinder romantic relationships from blossoming in the teenage. This rips any potential relationships in the bud and makes one feel even more isolated. Introverts tend to bottle up their negative pent-up emotions and explode one day, which could prove disastrous for their emotional and psychological well-being.
Lastly, a teenager’s ascribed financial status and social class may affect his standing amongst his peers who sport branded goods and expensive apparel. A lower working-class teenager may feel left out and unable to compete in this situation. They may feel a sense of alienation as a result of their non-middle-class background.
This affects the popularity and fame one earns in their social circle and impacts who gets invited to parties or forms cliques, or who dates whom. Social background indeed has a snowballing and rippling effect on a teenager’s social life.
Consequently, studies have revealed that psychological illnesses such as depression and nervous breakdown are common in the developed world. Here people tend to lead highly stressful lives. Research has shown a correlation between burned-out individuals and mental illnesses.
To cope with the stress, teenagers should make time for a healthy school-life balance. They should socialise with family and friends, engage in their favourite pastimes/hobbies and take time to rest adequately.
Such are the joys and pains of the wonderful yet tumultuous period known as teenage or adolescence when one is neither a child nor an adult. This interim phase is replete with changes of all kinds, some of which cause joy, and some of which cause distress.
Nonetheless, there are a plethora of opportunities to grow and learn as an individual. It is up to the individual how he ultimately allows or prevents the blows to his ego to get to his inner psyche and affect him (positively or negatively).
A version of this was earlier published here.
Picture credits: Photo by NEOSiAM 2020 from Pexels
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Miss Mandy graduated from Harvard University with a Higher Education Teaching Certificate, as her Post-
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