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Food for Thought: Emotional challenges for teens

| March 17, 2021 12:00 AM

If you are a teen, this is for you. If you know a teen, pass it along.

Today we will explore the hardest things about being a teen and ways to make life easier. We will talk about why life is such an emotional challenge at times and what you can do to make it less stressful. The following strategies can help you survive the teen years.

  1. Understand what emotional change to expect. When you know what to expect the changes of adolescence don’t come as such a surprise. It’s like seeing the trailer before seeing the movie, or reading the table of contents before you start the book. It gives you a sense of what’s to come, so you feel prepared.
  2. Get to know yourself better. The teen years can be very confusing. How do you keep track of your changing self? One way is to keep a journal, a private notebook where you write about your feelings.
  3. Look for positive influences. This means someone you consider a mentor or someone to pattern yourself after. If you admire someone and model yourself after him or her, it can give you some direction and some goals. Think about people who are positive influences in your life. They might be family members, teachers, leaders, or famous people you will never meet but whom you admire just the same.
  4. Practice thinking for yourself. It is a sign of strong self-esteem. It means you know you matter and you value your ability to think. Thinking for yourself means you ask questions, rather than just accepting what people tell you.
  5. Learn to be assertive. Assertive behavior usually means a person values him or herself. Assertiveness is standing up for yourself and protecting your own interest while respecting the rights of others.
  6. Learn to present yourself with confidence. Here is one way to develop confidence. First make a list of at least 5 things yo do well. Then make a list of 5 things you don’t do very well.

Choose something to do from the first list every day. This will make you feel good about yourself. Then, when you are feeling good, do something from the second list. You will see the way you feel about yourself at the moment can greatly affect how you perform.

  1. Learn to express your opinions. Here are some tips:

a. Know what you want to say. Organize your facts and arguments.

b. Develop your listening skills.

c. Disagree in a pleasant and polite way. ]Being rude or unfriendly turns people off and lessens your impact.

d. Know the difference between facts and opinions. Facts will help you win your argument.

e. Acknowledge the other point of view. People may not agree with you. You have more power when you acknowledge others have a right to a different point of view.

  1. Learn to disagree productivity. There are plenty of non-productive ways to disagree with parents and other authority figures, such as temper tantrums, violent behavior, rebellious behavior and disobeying laws. You will have more success if you learn the more productive ways to disagree, such as developing your negotiation skills or by forming or joining an action group.
  2. Make a few good friends. Making some friends takes some effort. Some people seem to make friends quite easily, while others find it difficult. It’s mostly a matter of learning a few skills. See if you can develop behaviors like these: smile, appear friendly, say “hi”, ask questions, give compliments, join groups, ask for information (Where did you get your jacket)?, be interested.
  3. Find someone you can talk to. You are learning new things every day and you are not always ready to meet the demands of social situations. It is very important to have someone you can talk to during this time. Different people can help you with different kinds of problems.

The important thing is when you start to feel stressed, it means you probably need to let it out. Look for help from parents, siblings, relatives, clergy, counselors, teachers, your friends or their parents.

  1. Learn teamwork skills. Being part of a team is an important skill, and it will become even more important when you are an adult. Teamwork skills include: cooperating, making decisions, being loyal, encouraging others, planning, problem solving, supporting and trusting.

Hopefully the information in this article will be helpful but one must apply it to work.

Dr. Leta A. Livoti Ph.D., LCSW, LCPC is a psychotherapist in Thompson Falls. She can be contacted at 827-0700.