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What Are the Most Important Decisions & Challenges Affecting Teens?

by Barbie Carpenter

As a parent, you likely get frustrated with your teen's moodiness, but the teen years aren't easy for your kid, either. As your teen begins to assert his independence, he faces a variety of choices -- how to express himself, who to hang out with and what path to take for the future. He might struggle to fit in with his peers as he discovers who he is and what he believes. Understanding the decisions and challenges that your teen faces might give you a more sympathetic attitude when you're dealing with your moody teen.

Peer Pressure

Peer pressure is an ongoing challenge for teens, according to Kristen G. Anderson, assistant professor of psychology at Reed College in Portland, Oregon, in a report posted on the University of Oregon website. Influence from their friends can lead teens to make risky decisions, such as whether they choose to have sex, drink alcohol or do drugs. Anderson explains that teens are more likely to take risks when they're around their friends -- friends who might also be taking similar risks. Peer pressure, then, represents both a challenge and decision for teens, as they struggle to choose between what they know is right and what their friends are doing.

Self-discovery

Teens are rife with potential, but they might face challenges as they struggle to discover the activities, interests and paths that appeal to them. According to Lisa Barkley at the University of Central Florida College of Medicine, teens learn by trying out different roles, responsibilities and experiences. However, when teens do not have access to such learning opportunities, they might have a hard time discovering what makes them happy. This path to self-discovery is a challenge during the tumultuous teenage years.

Plans Beyond High School

Even though the teen years might seem carefree, teens have to make major life decisions as high school graduation nears. Some of these decisions include choosing which colleges to apply to, selecting a school to attend and choosing an academic major, for the short term, and career path, for the long term. Other teens might enter the working world upon graduation, which requires them to find a job that interests and engages them. These future-oriented decisions have major consequences on the teen's life trajectory, according to the Michigan State University Extension.

Stress

When your teen's busy hopping from one social event to the next, you might not think that stress is a major part of her life. The Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health reports, however, that teens experience stress in a number of ways. Conflicting pressure from friends and parents to behave a certain way can cause stress. Changing friendships and relationships with both friends and family can contribute to stress, as can body image issues. Stress can be a continuing challenge for teens as they move through their adolescence.

About the Author

Barbie Carpenter worked as a technical writer and editor in the defense industry for six years. She also served as a newspaper feature page editor and nationally syndicated columnist for the Hearst Corp. Carpenter holds a Bachelor of Science in journalism from the University of Florida and a graduate certificate in professional writing from the University of Central Florida.

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