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Problems Affecting Teens

by Dosser Handron

Teenagers often experience a myriad of problems due to the changes taking place in their lives while transitioning to adulthood, especially in the modern world where they face many influences from the media and the Internet. Teenagers experience difficulties with the physical changes to their bodies, emotional and psychological challenges and social problems at home, school and among their peers. They often need guidance and support through this period from their parents, teachers, counselors and peers.

Physical Difficulties

Teenagers experience rapid body changes as they transition into adults and may have difficulty understanding and coping with them. In the teenage years, girls usually start their periods and develop breasts and hips, while boys start to develop chest and facial hair and become more muscular. Their voices may also deepen. Although a teenager may already know to expect these changes, they may still be self-conscious, especially if they start to develop faster than their peers. Teenagers also struggle with negative body image when they experience adverse changes such as skin breakouts and heavy weight gain. Exposure to the media and the Internet may also cause a teenager to develop eating disorders to fit the mold of beauty projected in advertisements, music videos and television shows.

Emotional Problems

Hormonal imbalance is an attribute of the teen years and teenagers may struggle with emotional problems such as mood swings, uncertainty, confusion and even rejection, particularly if they do not receive attention from their parents and acceptance from their peers. Teenagers are more inclined to spend time with their peers, but if they do not fit in -- whether it's the way they look, their interests or socio-economic status -- they may feel isolated and suffer from feelings of rejection. Teenagers also still need their parents’ affirmation, understanding and acceptance although they may not seem to. If they are neglected, ignored or controlled, they may act out in order to encourage a sense of independence and personal well-being.

Psychological Distress

Psychological distress in teenagers may occur when they feel that the changes in their lives are too confusing or overwhelming. Teenagers are usually trying to establish their own separate identity that is distinct from family and friends but which also allows them to meet and bond with other teens that are just like them. However, if a teenager cannot really find his way, he may not be able to socialize effectively and he may withdraw and fall into depression, anxiety or engage in self-destructive practices such as cutting himself. He may even contemplate suicide as a way to try and cope with the negative feelings. Parents need to be on the lookout for signs of a troubled teen and get him help as soon as possible.

Social Challenges

The social environment has an impact on the health, positive development and well-being of a teenager. Teens may experience challenges at school if the environment is not conducive to learning. Bullying and peer isolation can also be a problem for a teenager in school. Teenagers may also experience challenges in their home life if they have absentee, divorced or troubled parents. If parents are not in a position to provide a stable home life, it may adversely affect the teenager’s development. The community surrounding a teenager may also expose him to social problems such as violence, crime and insecurity. The teenager may also pick up risky behaviors such as underage drinking, smoking and premature sexual activity due to peer pressure.

About the Author

Dosser Handron is a practicing psychologist and writer.She served as a columnist for the "Tides" and now contributes to various websites. Dosser holds a PhD in psychology from University of South Carolina.

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