“What a relief! My teen is back at school, finally, and everything is good again. No more Zoom classes and complaining.”
Does this sound familiar?
Now that public health officials have deemed it safe to return to school, your teen must unlearn what they were conditioned to believe for almost 270 days — to keep their faces covered, keep six feet of distance between themselves and others, say “no” to social gatherings, and live in constant fear that they or a loved one would get sick, or worse.
It’s no wonder that many teens are feeling nervous about going back to school.
Here are 11 real issues that your teen is facing today. You should be aware of these warning signs and have an open conversation about their fears and feelings. If your teen continues to feel worse, a counselor or therapist can help them learn how to process their emotions in a healthy way.
Have you noticed a level of anxiety about school, friends, dating or even some of the most basic issues of life? Try to do daily check-ins with your teen to keep a pulse on how they’re feeling. That way, you can make adjustments to nip anxiety in the bud before it spirals into something big and overwhelming.
2. Lack of self-confidence
Is your teen doubting him/herself on a regular basis? We all do this, but if your teen is always feeling bad about themselves, it could be a warning sign of low self-esteem. Remind them of the achievements they’ve made, and encourage them to accept compliments.
3. Time management
Is your teen having trouble finishing homework or chores on time? When your teen is struggling with anxiety, small tasks suddenly seem monstrous. Your teen may start struggling with managing their time appropriately and start adopting avoidance tactics.
Teach your teen how to break big tasks, like term papers, into smaller, more manageable chunks — and tackle the easiest parts first. This is a powerful life lesson.
4. Family conflict
Moodiness and irritability go hand-in-hand with heavy swings in hormones. But are you fighting with your teen much more than you did a year or two ago? Anger can be a sign of depression. Underneath anger are often difficult emotions, such as hurt, frustration or sadness that a teen is attempting to avoid or isn't aware they are feeling.
Stress is a close relative of anxiety. A recent survey by the American Psychological Association found that fewer than half of Gen Z participants would rate their own mental health as “excellent” or “very good.” Look for physical signs that your teen struggling with stress, which could manifest as poor appetite, a disrupted sleep schedule, or a look of fear on their face.
6. Poor self-control
Every person on earth makes good and bad decisions. But when you see your teen beginning to lose their common sense with their friends or themselves, you should take a closer look. Remember that both alcohol and drug abuse are a result of poor self-control and poor judgment.
7. Questionable decision-making
This is what happens after a teen loses self-control. Ask about their friends, who often have more influence over their decision-making than you do. So, find out what their friends are up to to find out what your teen is up to.
8. Internalizing small failures
No one feels good about letting anyone down. However, if your teen feels they have done this, it will likely lead to stress and could even lead to depression. Imagine how your teen feels when they let you, their sports coach, or their friends down. The effects of social stress are very real.
9. Low motivation and energy
Have you noticed your teen being mopey or procrastinating? This could be a symptom of a bigger problem, like self-doubt, overwhelm, or perfectionism.
10. Body image issues
This is a huge problem, primarily for girls but increasingly for boys. If your teen is slightly overweight, it is possible that they are dealing with teasing. If your teen is too tall, too skinny, too short, or otherwise falls outside the confines of a narrow standard of beauty, they are likely feeling self-conscious. Unfortunately, the media glorifies perfect bodies or the Hollywood desire to look perfect all the time. Remind your teen that they have so many non-physical qualities that make them uniquely wonderful.
11. Academic problems
Are you noticing that your teen’s grades are dropping? The answer could be as simple as your teen needing a tutor to manage the coursework. But it also could be that something is going on in the classroom and self-sabotage is happening.
Every teen overuses the Internet today. We’re all guilty of letting the Internet babysit our teens. But you should be aware that social media can quickly and adversely affect self-esteem.
Young people who spend seven hours or more a day on screens are more than twice as likely to be diagnosed with depression or anxiety than those who use screens for an hour a day.
Many experts have described a rise in sleeplessness, loneliness, worry and dependence grow exponentially due to use of social media.
Researchers discovered 48 percent of teenagers who spent five or more hours per day on electronic devices reported a suicide-related behavior.
I know you know this, but raising a teenager is tricky, challenging, and enormously rewarding. Keep your communication open and inviting. And keep your eyes open to changes in behavior.
For more information, please browse the ABD blog, filled with lots of actionable tips for dealing with the difficult and stressful parts of teen life.
For a deeper understanding of the unprecedented levels of anxiety, depression, and loneliness among teens who grew up in the Digital Age, download iGen: Why Today's Super-Connected Kids Are Growing Up Less Rebellious, More Tolerant, Less Happy — and Completely Unprepared for Adulthood — and What That Means for the Rest of Us.
And for any other questions or comments, please email me at [email protected].
All my best,
President, a brighter day charity
P.S. We have some fun events coming up. It's not too late to RSVP!
Come to our 5TH ANNUAL GOLF TOURNAMENT, a terrific day of sunshine, golf, and philanthropy.
All funds will go toward driving teen mental health awareness locally and nationally. Our Golf Tournament is happening this Friday, August 20th at 11:00am.
RSVP for our 2021 VIRTUAL GALA, an exciting evening full of entertainment, music, live speakers, virtual door prizes, a silent and live auction, and so much more!
All funds will go toward funding our teen mental health outreach efforts for 2021. Our Virtual Gala is happening Sunday, November 21st at 4:00pm PST.