Being a teenager has never been easy; however, young people growing up today will face many different challenges to the ones experienced by their parents and grandparents.
Young people are trying to find their way in an uncertain world. Life as a teenager is both exciting and scary, with endless opportunities but many hurdles. They are no longer children but not yet adults who can take full responsibility for their lives.
With so much going on in their lives, parenting a teenager can be exhausting. Their refusal to listen, the mood swings and constant arguments can make you feel like you are the enemy when all you want is the best for your child.
Next time you find yourself facing a stroppy teenager, try to take a moment to consider things from their point of view.
Teenagers are notoriously moody; however, it’s just a natural part of growing up. Be there if they need to talk, but if not, allow them some time out.
Puberty - As well as changing a young person’s body, the fluctuation in their hormone levels in puberty often lead to mood swings.
Lack of sleep - Most young people do not get the 8-10 hours of sleep they need each night. This is down to changes in their bodies’ natural rhythms making them feel more fully alert at night while they still have to rise early for school. The modern-day pressure of being ever-present on social media only makes the problem worse.
Brain immaturity - The human brain is not fully developed until someone is in their early 20s. This means young people might look physically mature while acting in an emotionally immature manner, e.g. being impulsive and not thinking through their actions.
Despite what they might say, young people need boundaries. This doesn’t mean you should demand total obedience from your child, but it’s important to set out what behaviour is acceptable from them and what isn’t. Avoid constant arguing by choosing your battles, e.g. don’t give them a hard time for occasionally staying out late, but make it clear that taking drugs is dangerous and is not acceptable.
Never underestimate the level of peer pressure young people have to deal with. Peer pressure can be positive, e.g. it can encourage a young person to study hard at school; however, there is a negative side. Even the most confident of young people can succumb to pressure to do something they know is wrong, e.g. shoplifting or sexting, if they are afraid of being the odd one out.
Social media puts a lot of pressure on young people to look and behave in a certain way with online taunting common.
Young people should be alert to the dangers of sexting, even when they are in a consensual relationship.
Whether to get a job or get into debt by going to university, how to afford somewhere to live and what to do about a drunken (or worse) photograph posted online? These are just a few of the many pressures facing young people which can lead to stress and mental distress.
Support for teenagers
Careers Wales helps young people plan their next step after compulsory education.
A survival guide for young workers explains the employment rights of young people aged 15 to 22 so they survive their first job.
Young Wales gives young people a voice.
Relate offers counselling to young people.
Young Minds has advice for parents and carers who are worried about a young person’s behaviour or state of mind.
Teen Issues has lots of information for teenagers about the issues that affect their daily lives, including an Ask Our Experts section.