Teens and their struggle for idenity

The transition from child to adult is both an exciting and harrowing time. Not only do most teenagers struggle with establishing their identity in the outside world but their parents wrestle with their child turning into a stranger. The teen years can be difficult due to various factors coming into play during the same time frame.

Hormones are waking up and beginning to play havoc with the young adult’s body. The teen is becoming acutely and sometimes painfully aware of how others view them in the world. This awareness leads to a longing to belong particularly within their peer group which often results in unwelcome changes. Added to these pressures is the natural desire of the young person to become their own person apart from the family unit. There is also the biological factor of the brain not being fully developed at this stage in life. New connections are forming that will allow the individual to draw on memory as well as other factors during the decision making process. This ability improves with practice but the learning process explains the sometimes emotional and spontaneous responses of a teenager.

Given the above it’s no wonder most teenagers struggle with identity at one point or another. Often the results are fairly harmless and fade with approaching adulthood but there are situations when parents need to come to the rescue although their interference may be initially unwelcome. Listed below are several signs that a teenager is struggling to establish their identity.

Rebellious behavior

Real issues can begin when a young person begins to make bad choices in an effort to appear mature. Smoking, drinking, substance abuse and becoming sexually active are examples of teenagers engaging in things they know are off limits. Usually their decisions are based on peer pressure and an effort to come across as mature. They require parental intervention to avoid serious problems down the road. Less serious acting out can be changes in dress, hair style and attitude to name a few. These can be the result of the same pressures as more serious situations but can often be tolerated by parents. Sometimes it’s wise to allow a young person to win some battles. Hair grows back and clothes can be changed. Allowing a teenager to feel empowered may make it easier to win the important battles. It’s also good for their self-esteem and will make them less vulnerable to outside influences.

Media influences

It’s not uncommon for teens to follow celebrities popular with their age group. They may copy hairstyles, clothing and certain behaviors. This type of identification can create a sense of belonging. Most of the time it’s fairly harmless and is simply a young person experimenting with different roles.

Changes in friendships

It is extremely important for young people to associate with those accepted in their peer group. For this reason they may seek out the company of accepted individuals while putting old friendships aside. Parents need to keep a close watch on a young person’s friends. If the new group has behaviors that fit in with acceptable behavior there’s probably no need for intervention.

All of this experimentation often results in unsettling behavior. But in the end most teens emerge productive young adults. They still want and need their parents although few will admit their desire for guidance. With positive encouragement and control both parents and teens will emerge from the teenage years intact and ready for a new chapter