The teenage years can be difficult and challenging in many ways, leading to many types of insecurities. It is a period of change growing out of childhood and into adulthood, which comes with pressures, responsibilities, uncertainty, and self-doubt. Further, teens are constantly being bombarded by messages from the media, their friends, and society about how they should look, what they should wear, and how they should act. Some teens may even be subject to bullying in school due to the way they look or how they dress. This is all compounded by the many hormonal changes that teenagers experience during this time. As a result, many teens may start to feel self-conscious about their body and the choices they make and start behaving in a withdrawn manner. As a parent, you can help ease their discomfort by teaching them how to grow comfortable and confident in their own skin, thus overcoming insecurities. But first, you’ll need to identify what exactly your teenager may be growing insecure about, the root causes of insecurity, and ways to help your teen in overcoming insecurities.
What is Insecurity?
Some parents may ask the question, “What is Insecurity Defined As?” That is because even the most confident teenagers may have some aspects of themselves that they are not completely satisfied with or choices that they may doubt. And to some degree, having critical self-awareness is a good thing for teenagers to have to make progress in life and studies have shown that reading for pleasure is a method of learning self-awareness. However, insecurity can be defined as an uncertainty or anxiety about oneself that arises from lack of confidence and weak character. For those suffering from insecurity, it may be difficult to form relationships or go about daily life, due to a self-perception of inadequacy. For teenagers, this can cause negative thoughts around the ability to fit in with peers, reach goals, and be accepted. Insecurity goes hand in hand with anxiety and may cause teens to withdraw from stressful situations or even daily activities because they feel inadequate.
Types of Insecurities
There are many different types of insecurities that teenagers may have developed through life experiences. For example, body image insecurities may have developed from watching certain television programs, or reading certain magazines, or being bullied in school for being a certain weight. These may have driven a need to be a certain weight or have certain measurements, which may lead to various types of eating disorders. Further, there may be body image insecurities like height where there is nothing a teenager can do about it. For example, a teenage girl may have gone through a growth spurt and be taller than all the girls and boys in her class, which may cause her to be insecure. But in reality, the rest of the class may catchup to her height within a year or two. Further, the impact of these types of insecurities can vary based on a number of different factors including gender, race, and level of education.
Below is a list of some common types of insecurities teenagers may face:
- Social insecurities around peer pressure, social preferences, and popularity.
- Body image insecurities
- Family insecurities
- Insecurities from traumatic events
Signs a Teen is Insecure & How to Help Your Teen in Overcoming Insecurities
1. They’re Wearing Loose or Baggy Clothes
If your teen has started wearing mainly loose or baggy clothes, they may be insecure about their body. Work with your teen to find empowering activities that will help them feel better about their body, such as yoga or dance. If you’re concerned they may have an eating disorder, encourage them to talk to a counselor or doctor.
2. They’re Not Spending Time with Their Friends
If your teen avoids spending time with friends, they may be experiencing social anxiety. Teens can be very hard on themselves and your teen may believe they’re not “good enough” to hang out with their friends anymore. You can support your teen by helping them identify their negative thoughts so you can work through them together.
3. They Make Self-Deprecating Comments
If you constantly hear your teen say things like “I’m just not good at this” or “no one even needs me anyway,” they may lack confidence in their skills and abilities. You can improve their spirits by reminding your teen of what they’re good at, praising them when they do something well and helping them find a positive outlet such as art or a sport.
4. They Don’t Voice Their Opinions
Teens who are often quiet and never seem to have an opinion may feel like they’re not important or that their views don’t matter. To help your teen, make a point of asking their opinion on various things like what to have for dinner or what they thought of a movie. Respond thoughtfully to what they have to say. When you do this on a regular basis, they’ll become more comfortable in sharing their opinions.
5. They Constantly Seek Validation
If your teen is always fishing for compliments or asking for everyone’s opinions, then your teen may feel doubtful about their own thoughts or actions. This may be happening because your teen feels a lack of certainty in their identity. You can help by complimenting them when they’re not expecting it (such as when they do something nice for a sibling). Even more, encourage them to take confidence in the things they do, and not seek approval from others.
6. They Don’t Spend Time Doing the Things They Enjoy
If your teen used to love playing sports or making music but seems to have lost all interest, they may feel unsure about their talents. Teens can be very competitive, and some may refuse to participate in an activity if they can’t win or be the best. Remind your teen that the goal of these activities is fun, not status, and help them find some new hobbies that they can enjoy without worrying about engaging in a competitive mindset.
If you’re concerned that your teen is struggling with feelings of insecurity, take the time to talk to them about how they’re feeling and ask how you can best support them through their struggles. If you need help in assisting your teenager in overcoming insecurities, please reach out to Teen Rehab. We are here to help in any way that best suits your family’s needs and would be happy to do so.