Dr. Robin C. Campbell, LMFT
2430 Estancia Blvd., Suite 106
Clearwater, FL 33761-2607
Today's teenagers face real problems daily during the most awkward growth stages of their lives; between 13 and 19-years-old. Teens are exposed to some overwhelming external and internal struggles. Teens go through, and are expected to cope with hormonal changes, puberty, social and parental forces, work and school pressures, as well as encountering many conditions and problems. Teens feel overwhelmed when faced with unprecedented stresses concerning school and college, and career confusion situations. Those who have absentee parents are exposed to more unfavorable states of life.
The issues that teenagers face today vary but these issues can be dealt with easily if parents and other guardians can understand the symptoms of their problems. Parents need to approach their children, who have been suffering from one or more teenage problems, carefully and in a friendly manner to discuss the problem(s).
Many teens feel misunderstood. It is vital that their feelings and thoughts are validated, and that the validation comes from their parents. Dr. Campbell has helped countless teenagers and their parents work through these very real and very difficult situations over the years.
Surprisingly, all these problems are connected to one another, like a chain reaction. When the teens face self-esteem and body image problems, they can become frustrated, resulting in eating disorders. The teens start feeling stress when they are exposed to peer-pressure and competition at school, or child abuse at home. Many teens begin drinking and smoking in order to relieve the stress. Many may run away from home, play computer games, and start chatting online with strangers. Computer games and online chatting can result in addiction. Many teens feel further stress when they get bullied online. Others may become easy targets of online predators and once treated badly; they turn to more harmful practices. Those who cannot find love at home or support at schools start to build relationships with friends in school or local areas, resulting in unsafe or underage sex, and possible teen pregnancy. Many become addicted to drugs and harm themselves when they cannot get results. Many teens resort to crimes once they feel they cannot get any help or support.
The most common problems teenagers face today are:
Self-Esteem and Body Image
Teenagers undergo and have to cope with numerous body changes. Some teenagers feel too fat, too skinny, too tall, too short, etc. This feeling leads them to spend time wishing they were not too skinny, too short, their hair was not too curly or vice versa. The problem with this feeling is that it affects their self-image. As a teenage boy or girl’s body changes, so does the self. When they do not like something in themselves, they have self-esteem and body image problems. They also perceive others, particularly schoolmates, to view them as they view themselves. They can suffer more from these problems when they have trouble adjusting.
Hormonal changes have huge effects on the general growth and mood of the teens. Puberty changes tempt teenagers to compare themselves with people around them and when they find they do not match their standards, they feel low. They also compare themselves with those seen on TV, in movies, and in the magazines. Most youths’ ability to develop positive self-esteem is affected by family life and parental criticism. Teenagers who experience negative comments about their appearances, the way they talk, etc stuff also develop poor self-esteem and body image.
Bullying is one of the worst teenage problems and affects millions of youths. Bullying causes fear in the minds of kids and makes them nervous going to school each day. The adults do not always witness the bullying in their lives. The teenage children may be subject to heavy bullying as they may not understand how extreme it can get. Any form of bullying is relentless, causing the affected teenagers to live in a state of constant fear. Two of the prime reasons teens are bullied are their appearance and social status. Bullying has caused many serious and life-threatening problems for bullied teens. As they get bullied often in school, their academics, and mental health suffer.
Bullying can be cruel when it becomes physical attacks on the victims. Some bullies attack their targets physically while others repeatedly spew verbal insults, affecting the psychology of the affected teens. The latest edition of bullying is cyber-bullying. It can get as worse as it gets in the real-life experience of the teens. Cyberbullies use cruel instant messages, text messages, emails online, and voice messages in many cases. Bullying is a very offensive behavior and crime. Bullying leads to more violent behavior in the bullies in their adult years. They eventually get rejected by their peers, lose friendships and become depressed as they age. Parents, teachers, and people in general should educate their teenagers about bullying and tell them to report any act of bullying to them. Media can also educate the teenage children about bullying when some teenagers are bullies.
Depression is one of the worst problems that some teenagers suffer from and it can lead to more problems in the future. Depression may arise from poor self-esteem and body image problems. If that is the reason of depression in a teen, then parents should talk to the teen, listen to their child, comfort him or her, and accept their child for who they are. It is crucial that teens feel validated in their feelings and thoughts because what they are going through is a real part of their lives. Parents and guardians should not judge or criticize their feelings or thoughts. They should tell the teen how important it is to have high self-esteem and be comfortable in their body.
Depression symptoms in teenagers may be exhibited in various ways. Changes in sleep patterns, eating habits, declined interest in normal and healthy activities, dropping grades in school and college, and preferred isolation are all signs of depression. When teenagers exhibit one or all of these symptoms parents should intervene immediately. If teenagers begin talking about their depression, then they should be allowed to express their feelings, and parents should validate their feelings by listening to them without interrupting the conversation.
Drugs and Alcohol
Youths, particularly those who are in their early teens who drink, put themselves at risks for many problems. For example, they face problems with the law, at school, with their parents, and peers. In the USA, drug abuse is a major problem affecting millions of teenagers, along with their parents and families. It is an imperative that parents, schools, media, etc., educate the young children about the dangers of drugs and alcohol, and how drugs affect their bodies. If they are taught properly, then they will be able to make an educated choice.
The Internet offers undeniable benefits in developing a teen’s ability to grow with modern technology, technical ideas, knowledge and other skills. However, using the internet, particularly the social networking websites, unsafely puts the teenagers at very high risk for many problems. When children spend more than enough or agreeable time online, they tend to be cyber addicts. As they spend more time on social networking, gaming, and other websites, particularly adult sites, they suffer from cyber addiction.
Cyber addiction can be just as harmful as addiction to drugs or drinking alcohol. Teenagers who spend unhealthy amounts of time on the Internet or online suffer from a condition recognized as Internet Addiction Disorder (IAD). Those who have IAD conditions may experience distress, withdrawal symptoms including obsessive thoughts, tremors, and other mental and physical problems. Cyber addiction impairs the quality of their lives. Parents should talk to their children and agree on a list of rules that clearly say when to use the internet, which sites they should visit and what safety measures they should follow. Teachers can also ensure safe browsing of the web at schools and colleges for teenage students.