Young People

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Young people

  • Every young person will face some fears and worries in the course of growing up.
    • While many young people would list among their fears things such as wars, unemployment, death, aircraft, pollution, heights, etc., the most common fears are about family issues, such as fear of parents divorcing or fear of losing a parent.
    • Young people also worry about their own lives and the changes that are happening to them, eg. starting high school, leaving school, starting a job.
  • The two important tasks of adolescence are:
    • to become independent and more responsible for their own decision-making and actions.
    • to establish a sense of who they are, and what sort of person they are becoming – “Who am I?” and “What am I like?

Who am I?

  • One of a teenager’s greatest fears is being different in some way from his friends. Young people want to dress, look and talk like their friends, so that they can feel part of the group. This is normal.
  • They worry a lot about what other people think of them and tend to think that people are more critical of them than they really are.
  • Young people also worry a lot about their physical appearance. They can be extremely self-conscious and feel that everyone is looking at them. They worry about their shape, acne, hair, clothes, etc.
  • Another worry is what their peer group thinks of them. Being accepted by their friends is vitally important.
  • Anxiety can also be a result of differences in sexual development. Some may worry if they mature early or if they are late developers. They may also have worries about new sexual feelings and impulses.
  • The changes and extremes of feelings and moods in some young people can lead to a fear of ‘going crazy’.
  • As feelings often get stirred up with adolescence, some fear a loss of control in coping with their angry feelings.

Independence

  • While young people may want to be independent, “stand on their own feet” and take responsibility for their decisions and actions, they may also worry about whether they will be able to manage this.
  • Pressures of getting good marks at school, particularly in years 11 and 12, and the importance of this for future career choices very often cause high levels of anxiety.
  • Adolescents may worry about whether they will be able to provide for themselves in the future.

Helping young people with fears

  • Listen to their worries, and treat their fears seriously. Don’t make fun of them or treat them as unimportant, as this will stop them from telling you about them.
  • Young people may be embarrassed about talking about some things with parents. Instead, they may spend hours on the phone talking to friends about their clothes, social situations and the opposite sex. These discussions may seem like a waste of time to parents, but the support that they give can be of major importance to the young people.
  • Be available to give them information if they ask for it.
  • Help them look at situations and choices in a calm, thoughtful way so that they can make wise decisions.
  • Help them gain confidence in their ability to make decisions and of finding useful ways of coping.
  • Give encouragement for thinking for themselves – don’t always provide the answers or “know better”.
  • It is best to not try and fix things for them or tell them how to do it, but rather to listen and help them learn to solve problems for themselves.
  • If you think that your young person’s anxieties are becoming so unreal or so strong that they are interfering with her daily life, then it could be useful to suggest that she talks with a counsellor, such as a school counsellor, or for you to discuss the situation with a professional.

Source: Parenting & Child Health

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