We all know that teenagers face a lot of different issues—social, academic, sexual—which can feel all too overwhelming. Below are some of the most common pressures that teens can encounter, along with suggestions on how you can help your teen handle each situation.
There’s a lot of pressure put on teenagers to do well in school. Teachers often tell students that they need to get high marks if they want to go to college and get a good job, causing some teens to worry about grades to such an extent that they do little else but study. While this may not seem like a bad thing to some parents, the pressure to succeed academically can actually lower grades if your teen’s anxiety starts affecting their performance.
If your teen struggles with academic pressure, encourage them to spend time away from their studies so they can exercise, enjoy a hobby or hang out with friends. After they’ve had a break to relax, they can come back to their schoolwork with a renewed mind.
Body Image Pressure
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The media constantly depicts pictures of models and athletes with “perfect” bodies that are near impossible for the average teen to obtain. As a result, teens, feeling bad about their appearances, may engage in extreme diets or exercise constantly to lose weight or gain muscle. If your teen is struggling with body image issues, remind them of the editing process that goes into the photos they look at. You can also encourage them to pursue physical activities that will allow them to appreciate their body, such as yoga or running.
Sometimes teens believe they have to be sexually active, even if they don’t feel like they’re ready. They could be feeling pressure from their friends or by someone who’s asking them to have sex. Make sure you talk to your teen about this matter; let them know that they always have the right to say no to sex and explain why it’s important that they make their own decisions regarding sex and sexuality. It’s also crucial that you discuss safe sex in an open and non-judgmental manner for when they do feel ready.
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Some teens believe that they’re only complete or cool if they have a boyfriend or girlfriend, an idea they might receive from peers or popular media. If your teen feels this way, you can help them express their individuality and independence. Show them how family and friends can often be just as, if not more, supportive and fun. While there’s nothing wrong with dating, your teen should be the one to decide if they truly want a romantic relationship, not because they should do so to impress others.
Friends exert a lot of influence on teens. In some cases, they might help foster positive habits, or they might encourage negative actions, such as skipping classes or substance abuse. However, a confident teen is more likely to resist peer pressure than a self-conscious one. You can help boost your teen’s self esteem by complimenting them on things they do well, helping them find a sport or hobby they enjoy and encouraging them to form their own opinions on current issues.
There are various pressures that teens have to deal with. By keeping an open line of communication between you and your teen, you can recognize what’s bothering them so you can better support your teen.
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