Teenage life brings with it an equal measure of excitement and dread. There is the excitement of your first crush, your first date, along with the dread of your first pimple and the thought “does he like me as much as I do?” Oh, the entire dilemma and uncertainty teenagers put themselves through. While teenager girls and boys both suffer from common teenage issues, there are some adolescent problems girls have to struggle with much more. As a parent, you need to lend a helping hand to give your girl the support she needs. Below are the common teen issues girls face and how you can tackle them.
CONSTANT APPEARANCE WORRIES: Teenage girls are under immense pressure to maintain the perfect body size as presented in the media. Tags like ‘Fat’ and ‘Dark’ are big blow to their self confidence. Teenage phase the time when hormonal activities inside a girl’s body surge suddenly. This leads to a lot of physical changes, which, given the popular standards of a perfect body, are very difficult to adjust with. Here’s how you can help your girl cope with this commonteen issue:
- Help her understand that there is no right or wrong body type and it’s important to be comfortable in your skin.
- Watch out for eating disorders if your teen girl is struggling with weight issues.
- Tell her that as parents you love her for the person she is and not for her looks.
- Stress upon the importance of being healthy and the futility of chasing the perfect body as projected in contemporary media.
THE PRESSURE OF THE PERFECT DATE: Teenage brings with it the rush of first romance and a case of serious attraction towards the opposite sex. This is the first time teens are permitted to go out on official dates. As exciting as the prospect of going on a first date is, teenage girls are also under immense pressure to make it perfect and memorable. Peer pressure and media associate teenage romance with sex and your teenage girl might be confused about her choice to deny a sexual relationship. It’s important to talk to your teenage girl early-on to prepare her about the challenges of such teen girl related problems:
- Educate her about her right to say to no to any unwanted sexual advances and relationships.
- Impress upon her the gravity of consequences related to premature sex like sexually transmitted diseases and teenage pregnancy.
- Impress upon her the importance of safe sex and precaution.
- Differentiate for her the difference between ‘romance’ and ‘sex’ and the appropriate time for the latter.
TUSSLES WITH BFF: Teenage girls share a love-hate relationship with their best friend. Her best friend is her sounding board, her advisor, her support system against the cruel teenage eco-system; however, she is also the one person your teenage daughter has disagreements and fights with. When together, teenage girls draw major strength from their best friends, but in case of fights and tussles, the impact can be as severe. Friendship plays a vital role in the development and upbringing of your teenage girl, and parents can guide their daughter towards building ones that last a lifetime:
- Be affectionate and inviting towards your daughters friends so that your teenage girl comes to view her as an important part of her life.
- Tell them that it’s alright to get into healthy disagreements and fights and that it should not impact their relationship in the long run.
- Narrate stories from your childhood as an example of spark and excitement friends added to your life.
- Inform her that fights and arguments don’t make her friend a ‘bad’ person
- Encourage her to apologize and make amends if she’s in the wrong
- Monitor the company she is keeping and watch out for friends with negative influence
MENSTRUATION HASSLES: Onset of menstruation cycle is probably the most unpleasant, although the most natural change teenage girls experience. Lot of teen related problems like depression and body image related issues are directly related to hormonal changes which happen along with the beginning of menstruation cycle. Problems related to acne, weight gain and unnatural hair growth are a direct outcome of period related hormonal changes. Some teenage girls cope very well with this teenage problem and for others it can be quite frightening. Here’s how you can help your daughter prepare for what to expect during menstruation:
- Educate her at a young age about the menstruation process and the changes it can bring about.
- Tell her that it is a natural process and nothing to be embarrassed about.
- Advice her to carry painkillers and sanitary napkins/tampons for any pain and unexpected onset of periods.
- Inform her about Pre-menstrual stress (PMS) and how it can cause mood swings.
BULLYING ISSUES: Unkind remarks about clothing, cruel jokes on looks and mean jeers about being a ‘girl’ are the harsh facts teenage girls have to deal with. You are either tagged a ‘delicate darling’, too feminine for any physical exertion or you are a ‘tomboy’ made fun of for your washboard physique and manly behavior. These remarks, even when made in an offhand and a casual manner, can push your teenage girl towards low self-esteem and depressive behavior. If there are any signs that your daughter is facing bullying related teenage hassles, give her the following advice to fight back:
- Let her know that she has to ‘be herself’ and not fall into the trap of fitting a tag.
- Arm her with fitting come backs like ‘get a life’ or ‘don’t you have anything better to do’ to put off bullies.
- Tell her that bullies are people struggling with insecurity and complex issues of their own; their actions and behavior, though very hurtful, is a reflection of their own shortcomings.
- In case of a serious threat tell your teenage daughter from not hesitating to approach people in authority for help.
PEER PRESSURE TO ‘FIT-IN’: Teenagers often do things or behave in a certain manner which is totally out of character for them, and teenager girls are no different. They do so under the pressure to belong to a certain group or under peer pressure. Under the influence of their peers, teenagers often ignore the call of their conscience and oversee obvious warning signs. Parents can save their daughters from getting into trouble by cautioning them against the dangerous outcomes of this teen related problem:
- Teach them what peer pressure is and help them identify it.
- Tell them to rely on their instinct and trust it when it tells them that something is wrong.
- Inform them it’s perfectly okay to say no to actions under peer pressure and not belonging to a group is not the end of the world.
PRESSURE TO BE AN ‘ALL ROUNDER’: From their adolescence, young girls deal with the pressure of proving their mettle both at home and in the school. Society at large, in everyday ads or social interactions, paint an image of a perfect girl being an ‘all rounder’. This way both parents and teenage girls themselves set a very high benchmark of performance which is impossible to achieve or maintain. Parents can alleviate some of this problem by following the given parenting tips on common teen issues girls face :
- Don’t stereotype a girl’s role in the society and in the family.
- Tell her that driving or cooking are life style skills and not talents related to a specific gender.
- Appreciate the efforts that she put in her studies and not just the results.
- Encourage her to pursue extra -curricular activities and let her discover her interests and skills
TENDENCY TO COMPARE: Teenagers exchange and compare notes about everything in their life. It is a way for them to satisfy their self esteem and keep themselves updated. It is also the manner through which they establish their position in the dynamics of their friend circle. That said, unnecessary comparison also leads to unusually high aspirations and skewed self image. Aspirations for a high end lifestyle, comparison of material possessions and aiming for the perfect figure are a huge contributing factor towards discontent and other issues which teenagers face. Here’s how you can assist your teenager deal with this adolescent problem faced by girls:
- Tell her that she is a unique individual and to nurture personal and material characteristics that set her apart.
- Explain to her that celebrities have to maintain a public persona and in their private lives they live like common people.
Teenage girls are akin to young flowering buds, which can either bloom into beautiful flowers given the right environmental conditions or wither away gradually, unable to survive and fight harsh conditions. Ensure that your young girls grow up to become confident and smart women, ready to face the challenges of the real world, by educating yourself about common teen issues girls face.