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Ask a Teen

What's Bugging My Teen?

Top 5 Teen Troubles

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February 01, 2010
It's hard to believe that kids grow up so fast, but they do. As a teenager, an individual has new responsibilities, new opportunities, new privileges and new issues to cause concern. Naturally, during the teen years, youth—girls in particular—lack self-esteem for a number of reasons. As children age into the teen years, they become more aware. This allows them to be more perceptive to others, inevitably causing them to compare themselves to others their age. When teenagers are worried about how they are perceived by other people, it is common for them to be anxious about their popularity, friends and outward appearance. In an article posted on radicalParenting.com that analyzed the most troublesome issues for teens, Vanessa Van Patten reports that the top five teen concerns today are consecutively: relationships, abuse, sex, drugs and alcohol and suicide.

Kia W. says, "A reason that relationships are number one on the list is because there are many different types of them to worry about." What a perfect answer. Relationships with boyfriends and girlfriends, parents, siblings and friends are all included in the concerns teens have about their interactions with others. Each of these relationships is unique in their own way. For example, the respect with which one particular teen may speak to their parents may not be present in a conversation between two friends—dynamics change. This newfound method of adaptation can be very difficult for teens to learn to maneuver.

Another startling concern is abuse. According to kidshealth.com, one in 11 teens in high school report having been abused by a boyfriend or girlfriend. "Abuse among teenagers is steadily becoming a serious problem at the forefront of relationships," says Jonathan G. Parents need to be able to detect abuse in their son or daughter's relationship in order to stop it. These types of unhealthy relationships can present themselves in the form of any kind of physical harm, your teen's partner attempting to control different aspects of your child's life, frequent humiliation or making your teen feel unworthy and threatening to harm your child if he or she were to leave the relationship.

Thirdly is sex. It's a touchy subject and one that often goes unbroached. With the bombardment of media and peers, to some teens it is completely justifiable. This issue goes hand in hand with peer pressure because many teens have sex simply to bring themselves social status (WebMD.com). Teen peer pressure should not be accepted, especially when it comes to sex. They need to know that they do not need to aspire to be like others, but embrace their own individual identity and to be themselves. If their peers are friends only because they are acting like them then they're not really friends.

This brings us to the fourth issue that teens worry about: drugs and alcohol, which are directly influenced by peer pressure. However, student Muriah D. believes that there is absolutely no reason to give into that pressure. In addition, while drugs and alcohol can seriously impair judgment, they also reduce inhibitions, which tend to be the reason behind teens being attracted to these substances. According to timetoact.drugfree.com, some reasons that teenagers engage in drug use are: they believe drugs give them the option to change their image and fit into cliques, provide them the confidence to do the things they would never do otherwise and relieve them of emotional pain. Research also suggests that teens whose parents are not actively involved in their lives are more likely to use drugs and alcohol than those whose parents are involved.

The fifth and final concern—suicide. Intentions to commit suicide often cannot be detected. Many family members and friends are not aware of the seriousness of their loved one's problems until it is too late. Clevelandclinic.org reports that some behavior indicating intention to harm oneself are: excessive sadness or moodiness, sudden calmness, withdrawal, changes in personality and/or appearance, dangerous or self-harmful behavior, making preparations for one's own death and threatening suicide. It is also important to pay close attention to someone who has recently experienced trauma or life crisis, such a loved one's death.

Ultimately, parents must be aware of who their children are spending time with and what impact those people have on them. In addition, providing teens with positive role models to follow will help steer them away from negative influences. Naturally, youth may experience periods of highs and lows, self-consciousness and awareness. The best help parents can provide is by being mindful, aware and involved. You are your child's best role model.

Ariana Gainer is a fifteen-year-old senior in high school. She lives in downtown Indianapolis with her family. In her spare time, she enjoys reading and writing. Ariana's favorite authors are C.S. Lewis, Orson Scott Card and Douglas Adams.

Tags: Parenting, Tweens & Teens

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