Ritu a 15 year old says, “People glare at me, whether I go shopping or for a walk. Even if I wear proper clothes they look at me suspiciously. I feel so odd and scared. This never used to happen when I was younger. Is growing up so bad?”
Ashok is sweet sixteen. He says, “Even though I am sixteen year’s old, I still do not get freedom to do things to my liking. I have to be home by 10 o' clock and watch TV. I am not permitted to bring my friends home. If I am not allowed to do things of my choice then what is the fun of growing up?”
Like any other stage in life, adolescence is also full of ‘storms and stresses’. It is a period during which the environment around the life of a adolescent permits him to perceive the world around himself and often is given opportunities where he has to make his own decisions.
Often, many teenagers face problems in adjusting, to this period of ‘growing up’. Sometimes, problems faced by them are so severe that their personality foundation gets shaken up and this creates more problems for them as adults.
When children are small, parents need to give them support, love and guidance. In the same way when their children grow up parents need to become a pal to them. Given below are the psychological changes and problems which adolescents go through and due to these reasons it is important that parents try being supportive:
‘Am I developing normally’
As many physical changes like increase in height, weight, changes in voice, skin and sexual development are taking place, adolescents are under constant pressure. They feel very odd and awkward of their body size and shape changing. To check whether they are developing normally or not they keep on comparing themselves with other adolescents and are often obsessed with the idea of checking and measuring their height and weight at constant intervals, looking at the pimples on their face and puppy fat increasing on their hips and other parts of the body. If they think that they are developing abnormally, they start developing an inferiority complex and have a low self image. Minor incidences, make them furious and irritable at themselves and others. At such a stage if parents explain to their teenage children about the physical changes, it would become easier for the adolescents to pass through this stage.
‘I have to look good’, ‘Am I wearing the right clothes’
Adolescents have a strong desire to look good and be admired and praised by others. Teenagers spent hours in front of the mirror trying out various clothes and deciding which they should wear. They often have arguments with their parents about the kind of clothes they should wear. Parents insist that they wear clothes which are decent and light colored, while they want clothes on the basis of the ongoing fashions. A 16 year old girl complains, “Whatever clothes I wear, my mother has to pass some sarcastic remarks about it. This really makes me angry. Do I not have the right to wear the kind of clothes I want? Why does she not understand me?”
As children start growing up, looking ‘attractive and good’ becomes a more important goal compared to studies. They are often obsessed with the idea of trying out various face packs, hair cuts, clothes and shoes. If other teenagers look at them and pass positive comments, it increases their self image and makes them feel accepted. But if they are teased about their looks, they feel rejected and avoid socializing and prefer to be a loner.
‘I want to be known as ‘ME’ not as my fathers son (or daughter)!
Teenagers want to develop their own identity in the locality they are living and school or college they are studying. To achieve this, they try to become popular by excelling in studies or participating in sports, cultural activities, and other extra curricular activities in school/college. Things like wearing odd clothes, growing hair (for days), Becoming a ‘Gunda’ in the college are also ways of being popular. ‘I get a lot of pocket money and also drive to college in a Maruti’: Owning a two wheeler, having a girl–friend or boy–friend, wearing expensive clothes, becoming a champion in some sport, smoking, drinking are all status symbols. Achieving these things put them ‘At top’ compared to others.
Manoj says “I have started smoking and drinking, just to show others that I have matured and to be a part of my friend circle. I have to do it, even though I do not enjoy it much”. Now–a–days having a friend of the opposite sex has become a matter of prestige for many adolescents. It is something for which they strive and such a desire often keeps them pre–occupied with their looks, clothes and under constant pressure and tension to accomplish it. Adolescents who cannot achieve it, often start developing a lack of confidence and consider themselves to be worthless people and failure in life. Due to these reasons, when adolescents fall in love, suicide becomes the only alternative for them to escape from their loss of prestige.
‘I want many friends’
Adolescents have a strong desire to become part of a group of individuals of their own age with passage of time, friends become more important to them than their own age with passage of time, friends become more important to them then their own family. This peer group has a lot of influence on adolescents attitudes, rights and wrongs of life, interests, behavior, thinking etc. Adolescents desire a lot to be accepted by a peer groups. To them it is a very important goal and to achieve it they are willing to follow all the rules and regulations set by the group. Whether it means smoking, drinking or playing pranks on others or joining the same study course. With growing up adolescents tend be choosy of their friends, and they select them on the basis of similar view interests, and goals in life.