Identifying teens who are having identity issues

The teen years are a period of time when individuals gain an increased awareness of themselves. They continue to develop their own identity and this is influenced by many different factors. An important part of identity is not only how a teen perceives themselves, but also how they feel that they are perceived by others. Finding their identity can be a difficult and conflicting time for a teen and it is not unusual for them to have identity issues or an identity crisis. Here is a look at what constitutes an identity and how to tell if a teenager is having identity issues:

What is an identity?

Broadly speaking, a person’s identity is who they are. This is based on views of the self as well as the way they are perceived by others. The subjective self is the way a teen views themselves although this can be influenced by both peers and family. The objective self is the way that the teen is viewed by others. The social self is the way that teens think that other people see them and the ideal self is the way that the teen wishes that they were seen by others and what they hope to be.

Family relations

The child’s role and position in a family has great influence over both their identity and any identity issues that they face. Their position and relationship with siblings may impact on the identity that they choose to create for themselves. If they do not feel that they have individual characteristics and distinctive traits from others in their family, they may rebel to create their own identity. Their identity then becomes one of causing trouble.

Rebellion

Signs of rebellion include bucking family trends, rejecting the values of their family or peer groups and doing the opposite of what they know is expected of them. This is a teens attempt to fit in by being non-conformist.

Grown-up behavior

Teens have a desire to be seen as adults. When this is not always achieved, or they think that others do not perceive them in this way, they resort to what they regard as being adult behaviors. This often includes activities that are prohibited by law or by their parents until a certain age. Drinking alcohol and smoking cigarettes are often incorrectly viewed by teens as being adult behaviors and they choose to do these acts partly as rebellion and partly to create an adult identity. There are conflicts between what they perceive as being adult behaviors and what an adult would perceive as being mature.

Idols

It is common for teens to obsess over a particular person, or group of people, in the public eye in their attempts to create their own identity. However, the result can be that they actually lose their own individuality in their attempts to be like somebody else. Also, failure to achieve the end result of becoming like that person can create further identity issues and a sense of failure.

Status symbols

To the distress and expense of many parents, teens try to create an identity and a belonging to a particular group through their possessions. They desire a [articular role within a peer group or wish to be viewed in a particular way. This can be expressed through material things such as what they wear and what they own. However, this is often in conflict with their personalities and who they want to be rather than they way that they wish to be perceived.

Cliquish exclusion

One important part of developing identity is gaining acceptance. When people are struggling to gain identity and acceptance they can become intolerant and cruel to other people who are different or do not fit into their expectations of the norm. Teens who are struggling with their own identity and seeking acceptance can be cruel to and ostracize people who are different from what they are aiming to be. Many parents notice that their teens develop a cruel streak in their personality during this phase. It is simply that they are having issues with their own identity and they feel better accepted if they make others feel less so.

Others’ opinions

Teens need the opinions of others to help create their identity. Positive comments will reinforce their identity while negative comments will have the reverse effect. During this time, a teen who has issues with their identity may become increasingly obsessed with what others think about them.

The teen years are an important developmental stage that marks the transition form child to adulthood and is a vital stage in a teen identifying their personality. While this identify is being formed, a teen may face many issues with regards to how they perceive themselves and how they are perceived by others. As a parent, by being able to identify the signs of identity issues and being accepting of these changes and conflicts, you can offer greater support to your teen during this difficult time.