Would I like to be 18 again?
No. Thank you.
Knowing what I know now, getting through that age and stage once is quite enough. It’s not easy.
Recently I met Dick Moore, a delightful gentleman, educator and mental wellbeing advocate. His TED talk, “Dancing or drowning in the rain” is enlightening.
On the surface adolescence looks like fun – parties, friends, drinking, high energy levels, good health and for many sports and holidays. Some kids these days seem to have everything. “They have nothing to complain about.”
However, they do have a few tasks that are terribly difficult.
- Coping with sexual maturity
While the physical and hormonal changes can be embarrassing and confusing, self-esteem is the most significant variable around puberty. It can deeply affect how the young person feels about him/herself especially in the age of social media.
- Developing and maturing self-image
In response to these physical changes, young adolescents begin to be treated in a new way by those around them. They face society’s expectations for how young men and women “should” behave.
Both adolescent boys and girls are known to spend hours concerned with their physical appearance. They want to “fit in” with their peers and discover their own unique style at the same time.
The realisation that they might need to give up their childhood ambitions of being an engine driver, a princess, a photographer or a power ranger for something else more practical, is a hard one.
- Growing the ability to deal with disappointment
Stepping into the real world and finding rejection – not getting selected to be on the school football team; not getting through the audition for the school play and most often, breaking up with one’s girl/boy friend. Not fair!!! Recognising and managing these emotions is a huge task.
Parent’s opinions can seem obsolete and irrelevant. Their hero that was their Dad, may now seem like an ordinary person.
- Cutting emotional dependence on parents
They may take on increased responsibilities, such as babysitting, summer jobs, or household chores. They may look to peers and media for information and advice rather than parents, They identify more with their peers and sometimes may find their perspectives on social and political issues at odds with their parent’s. They are learning to manage these and other conflicts in a constructive manner.
That is a lot!