Problems in teenagers: how to tackle them
Problems in teenagers shouldn’t be ignored. Discover the most common problems and how to help with them. Don't wait any longer.
Dealing with adolescents isn’t easy. As parents, we often find it difficult to understand our children. During teenage years, many changes take place: physical, psychological, hormonal... Changes that involve a transformation of the entire neural network and of continued physical growth throughout their body.
There are also changes in their cardiorespiratory capacity which, added to all of the other physical and physiological changes, involve a high energy expenditure and are the reason that teenagers can sometimes feel tired easily.
They may need to be reminded several times to clean their bedroom or finish simple tasks. They become defiant, distant and display behaviour which, in many cases, is not in line with the behaviour we expect from them. From an adult’s point of view, this behaviour may seem abnormal, even associated to a psychological problem.
Is aggressiveness normal in teenagers?
Some risky behaviours, which involve a higher degree of vigilance from parents are as follows: consumption of alcohol, drugs, behaviours involving a sexual risk, use of electronic devices and social networks; on the other hand, on a psychological level, having a low mood, being emotional and affective, changes in mood, aggressiveness, hiding, lying, distrusting, stealing, defying rules and arguing about them; in addition, changes to the way of dressing, communicating less with parents, spending more time with friends and indecision. A huge catalogue of changes that can worry everyone living with them.
Additionally, teenagers are exposed to a series of stressful factors that risk their development: eating disorders, anxiety, addictions, emotional and physical vulnerability, social pressure from peers, friends and parents, and academic pressure.
All of these factors tend to stifle their feelings and they don’t talk about them. Many teenagers think that talking about their emotions is a sign of weakness. Another important trait, added to their indecision and insecurity, is recklessness, which leads them to perpetrate and follow risky behaviour (alcohol, drugs, sex...).
Don’t hesitate to ask for help: teachers, tutors, paediatricians, friends...they can help us to approach problems. We don’t have to be capable of solving all of our children’s problems. When they are too much for us or they attract our attention, we should seek help from outside of the family.
Tips for dealing with a teenager
Create a relationship of trust: this relationship is generated from being young, you can’t expect to see a change from one day to the next. Keep an open relationship with your children, without prohibitions, but with limits in place, sharing the important things about life, which will enable your child to keep an open dialogue with you.
Empathise: you are bound to remember what you were like as a teenager. You might think that you didn’t used to display this irrational behaviour. At the time, your parents thought the same about you. It’s good to put yourself in their shoes and try to understand their point of view. You should validate their experience and give them standards, without imposing them.
Example, not reasons: the coherent and consistent behaviour of parents is particularly important. It may seem like they are ignoring us, that they see us, but are not sponges of our actions, which convey standards about how to act when faced with similar situations. Setting an example is more important than any indoctrinating lecture we could ever give them.
Friendships: a teenager’s sense of identity is based on their friendship group, the people they spend the most time with. They have a big influence on them. Invite them to your home. Get to know them. Talk to them and try to gain their trust. Show them openness: if your child comes home and tells you that their friends say “your parents are cool”, that can be a good sign.
Respect their space and time: as adults, we live in our homes and teenagers’ caves are within these homes. With limits regarding the relationship and family coexistence, they need to have time and space for themselves, not just physically but materially. Don’t touch their things or try to overhear their conversations, it does not provide a relationship of trust.
Offer them help and love, especially if they reject you: they are reserved in their things and even think that the right thing to do is ignore the offer of help from their parents. A teenager’s need for help is usually inversely proportional to the level of love they need. Without being annoying, it is good for them to know you love them and that we are proud to be their parents. We boost their self-esteem immensely with this simple sentimental gesture.