A Perfect Storm
Everyone reacts differently. Right? We can all view an event together and yet have a different reaction to that event. It’s part of our individuality, our past experiences, beliefs and values which affect the choices we make.
Anxious feelings about the future, or depression about past events are also an individual reaction to different parts of life that surround a teenager.
It’s a combination of past events, current circumstances and the uncertainty of the future that cause the pressure that may lead to a period of compromised mental health. The perfect storm.
Lets have a look at some of the significant factors:
Peer Pressure. What your friends think, say and do is so incredibly important to you. Teenagers are still in the herd mentality of sticking together and haven’t managed to fully develop the skills of self worth, self belief and self validation. They really care about what others think of them, they way they look, the way they dress, the things they say, what they do.
Social Media. Keeping up with the latest dramas and scrolling through apps can make it so hard to have down time from their peers. Everyone looks amazing, and is doing such fun stuff. Plus it is so addictive and hard to put down that sleep can be compromised.
Sleep. Hormones can play havoc with teenage brains, stopping them getting to sleep early enough to be able to function in the morning. So much for getting out of bed on the right side.
Diet. Food tastes are changing according to outside influences (peers, advertising) and their body perception. Suddenly breakfast is something they just don’t eat and junk food consumption is up.
Exercise. This is pretty anecdotal and usually happens when they’re with friends, either socially or in a coach led group.
Past Events. Any trauma that wasn’t dealt with during their childhood may well surface now. This doesn’t mean you’re a bad parent, it just means you need to help your child work through it.
The Uncertain Future. It seems crazy to expect that teenagers will know at 18 what it is they want to do for the rest of their lives. The pressure reaching this point may be enormous. To study? To have a gap year? Where will each choice take them? And why are they the only ones who don’t really know?
Research is now supporting the idea that depression is not caused by a lack of happiness, but a lack of purpose. For many young people finding their purpose is often tied up with career choices, yet purpose is way more than that. It’s the feeling of being able to contribute meaningfully in so many ways: with their friends, in their families and giving back to their communities.
Some teens will sail through the later years of school, happy to make decisions as required and take life in their stride. Others may need more support. And neither is good or bad. The ones who seem to be sailing through may wish they were less certain and would love the chance to talk everything through but they just don’t know how to reach out. And the teens who need more support may learn so much about themselves that they really get themselves set up for life early on. We’ll never know which way the future may go.
What we can do is be there for our teens. Keep the lines of communication open and flourishing. Be a great role model for them, a free uber driver and a confidant to them. Get to know their friends and stick to your family values as you guide them through these years. Remember it takes good navigation to get through the perfect storm.