Teens have a multitude of insecurities. They normally harbor a lot of angst, not necessarily because they’re having a rough time at home or school, but just because their hormones are raging. Their insecurities can be so severe that their parents may feel like they’re walking on eggshells every time they deal with them.
Teasing remarks that sound harmless to a parent may be a trigger for teens. Especially now, with social media in their lives, they’re not just comparing themselves to their peers, but also to the people all over the world. As a result, they become more sensitive and conscious of their flaws.
Therefore, by knowing the common insecurities of teens, you can address them subtly and find solutions together. Below are the things teens are usually insecure about:
- Their Physical Appearance
Contrary to popular belief, it’s not just teen girls who are insecure about their appearances. Boys struggle with body image issues and insecurities just as much. Boys and girls alike can complain about their weight, skin, hair, teeth, height, and fashion sense.
These insecurities usually stem from another, deeper insecurity, such as being rejected, or not being part of a popular crew. If they complain about feeling fat, it could mean that they’ve had a row with their friends, causing them to suddenly feel ugly. They’d start to believe that their unattractiveness will draw them away from their social circle, so they’d blame themselves and hate their weight.
When your teen expresses insecurity about their physical appearance, your instinct is to contradict their statement, like saying “You’re not fat.” or “You’re beautiful.” However, it turns out that these contradictory responses do more harm than good. It makes teens feel invalidated instead of understood.
You can honor your teen’s feelings without agreeing to them. This validates their insecurities and creates a safe space for them to open up. But validating their insecurities doesn’t mean fixing them. Rather, just offer solutions, and let them figure out if it will solve their insecurity.
For example, if your teen complains about having crooked teeth, offer to accompany them to a reputable dentist, but don’t say what treatment will they need exactly. This will make them feel more in control, and assured of your support.
- Their Grades
We adults often call out teens for being burned out from their activities, because “the real world is more challenging.” But didn’t we also feel pressured in our high school days? As such, we must understand their struggles, not belittle them.
Insecurities about grades also originate from a bigger fear, which is typically not being good enough for their parents. If you have high expectations from your teen, it can fuel insecurity instead of motivation. When they don’t resolve this, their insecurity can evolve into a fear of failure in adulthood.
So instead of nitpicking every test score, engage them in positive self-talk. Let them know that their worth is beyond straight A’s and medals. This will inspire them to achieve more because they want to, not because they feel pressured by you.
- Their Mistakes
Aside from their grades, teens may also obsess over every little mistake they’ve made. It will drive them anxious, feeling like people are always judging them or talking about an embarrassing scene in which they are involved.
Again, don’t invalidate these feelings. Engage them instead in activities that they enjoy, or are talented in. This will make them more confident, and realize that their mistakes don’t define them.
Also, steer them away from situations where body-shaming and comparison are rampant. Even if you’ve already built up your teen’s confidence, it can only take one word or remark to make them fall apart again. Be their biggest supporter, not their number one critic, which is how they see the rest of the world.