8 common changes in teen behaviours to worry about

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Teenagers face a variety of challenges and behavioural changes as they navigate the complexities of adolescence. As a parent, it is important to be aware of these common teenage problems and provide support and guidance. By anticipating, and addressing any issues early and seeking help if necessary, you can help your teen navigate their years of self-discovery, and adolescent worries and help them make decisions for the future.

Here are 8 common changes in teen behaviour that you should be aware of: 

1. School-related stress: 

Many teens struggle with the pressure to succeed academically. School-related stress in teenagers can be caused by a variety of factors, such as academic pressure, social dynamics, and extracurricular commitments. Academic pressure can come from a desire to succeed and get into a good university, as well as pressure from parents and teachers. It is important for parents to help their kids manage this stress and to encourage a healthy school-life balance.

A sudden decline in grades or a lack of interest in school can be an alarming situation for a variety of issues, such as a learning disability, stress or depression. If your child’s performance is suffering, it is necessary to address the problem at hand and seek help where necessary. Parents, teachers, and other adults in teens’ lives should be on the lookout for signs of school-related stress and help them to cope. This can include teaching stress management tools such as meditation, and yoga, scheduling their time, and encouraging a healthy academic-life balance. The most important of them all is to help  them to set realistic goals for themselves. This could also mean identifying their strengths with them, or interest areas to ensure they are also discovering their own likes and dislikes.

2. Peer pressure: 

With social media affecting the way teens connect today, and see their peers [not just from their own schools but globally] there’s an overwhelming pressure to act a certain way. This pressure in turn translates to their desire for things, behaviours, and their need to feel accepted within peer groups. This can lead to constant stress, low self-esteem and unhealthy eating habits. It is important for parents to talk to their teenagers about the dangers of peer pressure and to help them develop the confidence and independence to resist it.

3. Body image issues:

Body image issues are a growing concern among teenagers, as social media and peer pressure play a significant role in shaping their perceptions of themselves. Many teenagers feel pressure to conform to societal standards of beauty and body shape, leading to feelings of inadequacy and self-doubt. This can manifest in a variety of ways, including disordered eating patterns, excessive exercise, and even anxiety and depression. It is important for parents, educators and healthcare professionals to provide support and raise awareness of these issues by talking to the teenager about healthy body image and by encouraging self-acceptance. It’s also helpful to model healthy body image and self-care practices with your kids.

4. Independence: 

As teenagers become more independent, it is natural for them to want more freedom and autonomy. However, this can sometimes lead to conflicts with parents. It is important for parents to strike a balance between giving their teenager space and setting clear boundaries and expectations. This can be easily navigated by establishing some rules around timings, visiting friends, keeping you informed and explaining the rationale instead of directly imposing rules. Additionally, encourage them to bring their friends home to help you understand their company. At any point, rationalising their actions and framing your concern in a way that gets them to solve your worries can drive better outcomes in this battle for independence during their teen years.

5. Poor interpersonal  communication skills: 

The issue of decreased communication among teenagers with family, extended family members and teachers has become a growing concern in recent years. The rise of technology and social media has contributed to this trend, as more and more teens are turning to their devices to interact with their peers. This has led to less face-to-face communication and a lack of opportunities for teenagers to practise and develop their social skills. The constant use of technology and social media can lead to feelings of isolation and loneliness among teens. Overall, the reduction in in-person social interaction among teenagers is a complex issue that likely has multiple causes and requires a multifaceted solution. The solution to the issue of decreased communication among teenagers could be to encourage more face-to-face interaction. This could be done by promoting events and activities that bring teens together, such as school clubs or community events.

6. Increased use of social media:

Smartphone Usage among Adolescents in India: A Study” conducted by the Indian Journal of Community Medicine in 2019 found that 92.5% of teenagers surveyed had access to smartphones. The extent of social media usage among teenagers is an ongoing concern globally, due to the impact on their mental and physical health. Excessive use of social media can lead to self-image issues, bullying and image perception problems among adults, which makes teens even more susceptible.. Unregulated usage leads to poor sleep habits, which can cause other health problems. It’s now quite common to see social media bullying;  which can have serious consequences for teenagers. A solution to increased use of social media among teenagers is to educate them on the potential negative effects and encourage them to set limits on their usage. There is also a need to talk with your child about how the usage of smartphones affects them.

7. Spending an inordinate amount of time with friends:

The issue of teenagers spending more time with friends is caused by common factors such as increased access to technology and social media, a need for social validation, and a desire for independence. Typically, this leads to neglecting responsibilities, decreased academic performance, and increased risk-taking behaviours. They can also get negatively influenced by these friends and it gets more difficult for parents to monitor and regulate their social lives. To tackle this problem, parents and teachers can create opportunities for students to interact and engage in meaningful conversations with their peers. 

8. Lack of decision-making skills:

The physical and emotional changes experienced by a teenager often make them confused and indecisive. Whether it is something as simple as what to wear to school or something as important as what college to pick, your teenager may seem to have a tough time making a choice. It is important for parents to support their teenagers in this process and to encourage them to consider their options carefully.

Understanding and addressing the challenges teenagers face is important for effective parenting. From academic stress to peer pressure, body image issues, and technology impact, proactive communication, setting boundaries, and fostering decision-making skills can empower teens. By navigating these changes together, you can guide your teenager towards a balanced and fulfilling future.