Think back to the time when you were a teenager, if you remember rightly it wasn’t that easy. You may say to your teenager or your friends “kids don’t know how easy they have it nowadays” but this just shows a lack of understanding. Whatever you choose to believe statistics show it is still hard being a teenager with high suicide rates and massive numbers of teenagers prescribed anti – depressants and being treated for mental illness.
So what do they worry about?
Many children and teenagers believe they are worthless. With both parents often having to work to cover bills often children feel worthless as they may feel your work duties come before their needs.
Children/teenagers who are repeatedly told they are ‘stupid’ a ‘Retard’, ‘useless’, ‘lazy’ ‘an idiot’ etc whether by their parents, teachers or peers begin to take these labels on board and believe them. If they are belittled because they didn’t do something right they don’t want to re try in case they get it wrong again and are made to feel stupid. Then they get labelled as lazy or useless and the damage continues. This negative talk is internalised much more deeply when the words come from people they rely on, and the words then soon turn into self-belief. They then may feel that they are useless at everything, they are worthless and a pain to be around. They could feel “I can’t do anything right so why bother trying”. This will make them more reluctant to socialise and be around other people for fear of being judged. To others this may seem extreme but as their Amygdala isn’t fully developed yet they often struggle to relate to their emotions and their Emotional intelligence is likely to be low, meaning they struggle to understand others and their own emotional responses and their meanings.
Another common misconception is feeling that they are a bad person, the black sheep of the family, the least liked family member. They feel guilty that they always seem to do things wrong or never being quite good enough. They may believe that everybody hates them as they hate themselves. This can be recognised as poor body image, self-criticism, self-loathing, self-harming and suicidal thoughts. They may feel that the family would be better off without them, especially if arguments stop each time they walk into a room. Again this may only be their perception but to them it is real.
So what can you do to help?
If your teenager is showing any of these signs talk to them about how they feel, or find them a mentor, somebody they like and trust and prime them to ask the questions as many teenagers don’t like to discuss emotions with their parents. Don’t dismiss how they are feeling but do encourage them and praise them where praise is due. This doesn’t mean tell them everything they do is fabulous as they will soon work out that you are not being honest. Teenagers are exposed to marketers all day everyday on their social media sites, computers games, internet etc, so they know when someone is selling them something. Be honest and caring and communicate. If you are still concerned and the problems are escalating seek professional help, don’t let your teenager become a statistic.