The teenage years are full of growing pains. This is a transitional period in our lives where we are determining who we are, who we want to be, where we fit in, and where we don’t. Finding our own identity is easier said than done. It can be an emotional and exhausting journey. It can be difficult to recognize if your child facing obstacles on their quest to identify. Here are some ways that your child can indicate struggles in this area:
Obsessing with status symbols. Adolescents try to establish themselves through prestige — wearing what’s in style, having the latest devices, and whatever other criteria is required to be in the “in crowd”. These symbols help form teen identities by expressing affiliation with specific groups. Teens can become obsessed with this idea and tirelessly commit to fulfilling the role. While they may not actually enjoy the clothes or company, it is a way for them to feel accepted.
Acting out to fit in. Teens often feel obligated to assert their independence, because that comes with growing up and being “cool”. They may feel that appearing mature will bring attention and acceptance. They begin engaging in practices they associate with adulthood — tabooed pleasures — such as smoking, drinking, drugs and sexual activity.
Rebelling and being risky. Rebellion indicates separation. Teens can show that they differentiate themselves from parents and authority figures while maintaining the acceptance of their peers. They can loudly demonstrate this by rebelling from authority figures or engaging in risky behaviors.
Forming cliques. Teens often can be ruthless in their exclusion of their peers. Since they are constantly trying to define and redefine themselves in relation to others, they do not want to be associated with anyone having unacceptable or unattractive characteristics. They work to strengthen their own identities by excluding those who are not like themselves.
Helping your teen on their hunt
As the teenage years bring about many hardships, being supportive of your teen is crucial. While you cannot tell them who they are, and you shouldn’t, you can help guide and support them in the self-discovery process. Here are some guiding steps you can put in action with your teen:
Pull out the paper.
Have your teen create a list of personal characteristics that are most important to them, the aspects least important, and the aspects of intermediate importance. Use this list to talk about values and the threat that peer pressure poses to unpopular beliefs. Also don’t be afraid to revisit this list when your teen seems to veer from the path they set for themselves in a negative way.
Create a collage.
One entitled “Who I am,” and the other, “Who l would like to be.” After the collages are completed, discuss why the specific images were chosen in each collage. This is a great opportunity to set goals and plans to achieve the person that your teen wants to be.
Answer the “Who am I?”
Have your teen write down 20 responses to this question as quickly as possible, without self-censoring. Discuss the answers as well as the process of choosing each answer. Does your teen like their answers, if not what can they do to improve themselves? This is an effective and healthy way to process.
Solstice East can help
Solstice East is a residential treatment center for young women ages 14-18 struggling with behavior and emotional issues along with mental disorders. This program focuses on helping young women heal, recover, and reintegrate healthy habits into their lives. Students will learn to build healthy relationships, cope with emotions, and effectively communicate. Solstice East gives young women the skills and confidence they need to lead happy and healthy lives. We can help your family today!
Contact us @ 828-484-9946