Worrying is a universal currency that spans generations, but the world of teenage worry is relatively self-contained and probably no different to the one I inhabited as a teenager more than 30 years ago.
The teenage years are an emotional roller coaster, full of highs and lows which create a permanent sense of high drama and the perfect breeding ground for worry. The truth is teenagers can be just as worried as adults sometimes but managing our teenagers’ worry requires a different skill set.
I may have been there, I may have got the t-shirt, but that doesn’t mean that I have all the answers and I need to be careful not to trivialise my teens’ concerns with dismissive comments of assurance that they are worrying about nothing and everything will be fine. That just doesn’t wash. Even if I have heard the same worry emerge from their mouths before, the important thing is always for them to feel that each and every time it is unique both to them and me.
So what are the main things that teenagers worry about?
School Work & Exams
Well it is no surprise at all that this is the primary source of worry for teenagers. Now more than ever before our teens are under increasing pressure to secure those top pass grades, the A’s and the A*’s in order to stand out in the crowd of high achievers. Once they get to secondary school it is a cycle of constant assessments, all geared towards encouraging them to aim higher. The pressure to succeed is monumental and as a parent you can do little to remove that pressure, just alleviate it.
As well as the external pressures at school there are also the internal ones too. No-one likes to be at the bottom of the class and this creates a level of competitiveness among the teens as they worry what each other will think if they don’t do well. With good grades comes success and with success comes admiration. Whilst this can be productive in terms of encouraging them to work harder, it also results in more undue stress.
Without question friends are one of, if not the most…