This week our Lion’s Roar Article has been put together by our Head of Counselling, Claire Ireland. There are lots of useful links throughout the article, so please take some time to explore the research. I hope you will be able to use this to help support your Senior School child(ren) more effectively through the teenage years.
Things your teenager worries about
In a recent article “Am I normal? The top five problems raised by teens”, the things teenagers most worried about were: family; friends; sex and relationships; school; anxiety.
Many teenagers experience complex family structures and recomposed families; in this environment teens can worry about their parents’ happiness and negotiating relationships with step-parents. Parental pressure and high expectations can cause stress, as teenagers put extra pressure on themselves to live up to the perceived expectations of their parents. In her book The Price of Privilege, author Madeline Levine argues that affluent teenagers today are experiencing epidemic rates of depression, substance abuse, and anxiety disorders. She argues parenting that is over protective, meaningless materialism, pressure to achieve, perfectionism, and disconnection contribute to poor mental health.
One of the tasks of adolescence is to separate from the parents to develop independence and self-reliance. It is for this reason that friendships become so important during the teenage years and why they worry about them so much. In her book Queen Bees and Wannabees author Rosalind Wiseman examines teenage-girl behaviour which can be cliquey, passive-aggressive, overly-competitive and comparative. This behaviour is exacerbated by technology, obsession with social-media means that friendships take centre-stage 24/7.
Adolescence is a time when teens are discovering their sexuality and orientation. Often boys and girls feel under pressure to go further sexually than they feel comfortable with. Research shows that they habitually overestimate what their peers are doing leading to greater pressure to be sexually active. Sexting, under-age sex, and sexually-transmitted diseases are more common. Although homosexuality, bisexuality and transgender are more accepted, the gay community suffers higher rates of depression, being non-heterosexual is still an added pressure in the 21st century.
Studying at a high-achieving international school can be stressful where high academic achievement, competition and exam stress are the norm. There is evidence too that young people worry more than` ever about their future. They aspire to maintain the materialistic comfort they are used to and achieve as much as their parents in an increasingly competitive world. Add to this, teachers’ and parents’ expectations—it is no wonder they feel anxious. Anxiety manifests itself physically as chronic stomach pain, headaches, restricted breathing and panic attacks, all caused by toxic stress hormones. Psychologically, anxiety impacts sleep, mood and energy levels and can lead to feelings of worthlessness and hopelessness. Parent practices can contribute to teen anxiety so to learn more, look out for our screening of the film Angst on Saturday 24 November.
Adolescents are going through huge cognitive changes. By talking to them openly and non-judgmentally, you will be able to support and enable them to make appropriate choices. Should you be concerned about your child and if they are refusing to talk to you, please do seek the help of one of the school counsellors. – Written by Claire Ireland, Head of Counselling
Next week is Week A.