Teenagers and Social Vices : How we can help our Teenagers .
A teenager is a boy or girl between the age of 13-17.
Social vices can be defined as an unacceptable attitude or behaviour that is against the norms and culture of any society.
Teenage age is a very critical and sensitive age. I believe most parents and guardians who have them at home can testify to that. It is not easy to control them because they feel they can be on their own and no one can control them. At times when you correct a teenager, they feel you’re downgrading them, some will even tell you ” I know my right”.
As parents and guardians, we can’t just leave them like that we need to tutor them. Most of them, when they go to school they want to explore because they are around their peers, they want to belong. They want to feel among, so bydoing this they are sometimes being misled bytheir so-called friends.
For girls, they began to think of how they can get a boyfriend that will give them what they want e.g. security, money, outing e.t.c.
For boys, they want to join the big “boy’s gang”. Even if they don’t want to join, their friends will lure them telling them all kinds of things e.g. If you want to be a big boy, you need to have a girlfriend, from there they lure them on how to make love with the girl without knowing the consequences that follows, their peers influence them on how to smoke, take hard drugs and other do other social vices.
During this time, teens are exposed to some overwhelming external and internal struggles. They go through and are expected to cope with hormonal changes, puberty, social and parental forces, work and school pressures, and so on. Many teens feel misunderstood. It is vital that their feelings and thoughts are validated and that the validation comes from their parents. Parents and guardians need to approach their children who have been dealing with teenage growth issues carefully and in a friendly manner to discuss the concern(s).
The Common Social Vices that teenagers face today are as follow:
- Self-Esteem and Body Image
- Cyber Addiction
- Drinking and Smoking
- Teen Pregnancy
- Underage Sex
- Defiant Behaviours
- Peer-Pressure and Competition
How can we help our teenagers to overcome these Social Vices
- Early Identification: As a parent or guardian watch the changes in sleep patterns, eating habits, declined interest in normal and healthy activities, dropping grades in school and college, and preferred isolation is all early signs of depression. Increased demands to perform, competing with friends etc may also lead to unwanted stress. Being vigilant towards these signs at an early stage may help to block/stop further damage and guide them towards healthy ways of dealing with their concerns.
- Understanding Transition: It is crucial that teens feel validated in their feelings and thoughts because what they are going through is a real part of their lives. Parents and guardians should not judge or criticize their feelings or thoughts. Being sensitive towards teens and the fact that they are exposed to a range of emotions (puberty being one of the most important experiences) is an important step in understanding their transition.
- Transferring Knowledge: One of the concerns that stem from curiosity and the need for independence or a sense of control can be experimenting with underage consumption of alcohol or drugs, physical intimacy or teenage pregnancy. It is often believed that educating the child about sex will lead to them wanting to experiment. However, that is a myth.
Talking to your children will enable them to be informed and will remove the “taboo” from the topic. It’s no secret that the level of exposure teens have today, as a result of the Internet is unmatched. Cyber addiction is the fastest-growing problem amongst other common teenage problems. Parents should talk to their teens and make them conscious of cyber safety – and, how to protect themselves from the Internet.
- Respect: The teen’s opinion or decisions will enhance their self-confidence and self-esteem. Most youths’ ability to develop positive self-esteem is affected byfamily life and parental criticism. Making respect a mutual virtue will help in developing a stronger bond between parents and the child.
- Rapport: Every parent has a different outlook towards parenting. A healthy relationship between the child and parents is the most essential during the teenage years. Communication is the key to developing a rapport, which results in the child feeling comfortable talking to their parents. Finding the correct balance between being a friend and a parent is important as this will help develop the required rapport. E.g.. teens facing body image concerns like being too fat, too skinny, too tall or too short will benefit from a balanced approach towards parenting, which may stem from good rapport.
- Trust and Acceptance: Trust is the foundation of any relationship. Spying, cross-questioning/checking with friends or doubting will hamper the bond, leading to deviant behaviours such as lying, stealing, hiding and being disrespectful. It is important to accept your teens as they are and to build trust in them. This will help them trust and accept themselves as well as those in their immediate environment.
- Communication and Safe Space: A clear communication channel opens up many possibilities. This does not only enhances the relationship but also helps the child confide in the parents about sensitive topics like bullying, peer pressure and abuse. Parents need to feel free to talk to their teens about certain common teenage problems like dating, sex, drugs, and alcohol.
- Seeking Help: With the changing times seeking professional help has become a common practice and more accessible. It is important to empower the teen with the information about seeking help even in the absence of the parent. It is equally important for a parent to be aware of his or her own needs and limitations and being open to seek or accept help.
Atiba Dorcas Anuoluwapo