Adolescence is a crucial phase in human development. Young people at this phase are physically transitioning into adulthood and also undergoing both mental and emotional development. There are however some unique social difficulties that are related with this period of life. Peer pressure, self-esteem, drug and alcohol use, and depression are some of the issues that confronts adolescents on daily basis. There is a need for parents and teachers as well as other agents of socialization to be on the watch so as to be able to help adolescents to appropriately navigates through some of these social problems through counselling and early detection of their worries and concerns.
Self-esteem is all about how an individual feel about his/her self, which depends on the development of an individual’s self-image. Self-image entails the formation of a mental representation of one’s self by an individual (a sense of who you are). It is therefore important that as a child transits into adulthood, a good self-image and healthy self-esteem should be initiated for a good social development.
How Parents and Teachers Can Help Build Self-Esteem
Low self-esteem can be identified in students/children in various ways: display bullying or being bullied, acting out, staying in their shell, becoming easily frustrated, and quitting or giving up. Good self-esteem can be built in a classroom/ home through:
Appreciating students’/children strengths and allowing them to utilize their abilities;
Avoid comparing students/children;
Model, teach and encourage student/children to embrace each other’s differences;
Commend and appreciate students’/children’s behaviour;
Set achievable goals for students/children;
Involve students/children in problem-solving and decision-making;
Include choices in classroom activities/assignments to better encourage students’ involvement in decision-making;
Inform children/students that it is natural to make mistakes and asking for help is not an error and emphasize that mistake is a part of the learning process:
Develop realistic expectations for children/ students’
B. PEER PRESSURE
Adolescent decisions and behaviour can be greatly influenced by peer pressure. Their peers can either influence their thinking, behaviour and decision positively or negatively at any age. For example, an adolescent may volunteer to join a project just because all of his/her friends are there. Same way, a child can easily adapt to a risky habit such as smoking, drug, and alcohol consumption if his/her friends engage in such act.
The attitude of the teacher can affect the classroom dynamics, and there are ways to help students cope with pressures in the classroom. These include:
Create opportunities for students to ponder on their learning and to help them believe in themselves;
Design an environment where students are not afraid to be themselves;
Teach students how to deal with their mistakes and that they can learn from their mistakes;
Emphasize the value that students/children are important to themselves and their family hence a need for them to protect their reputation and family reputation.
C. SUBSTANCE ABUSE AND SEX
It is no longer a hidden story that involvement in sexual activities and substance abuse (drugs and alcohol) are prevalent among adolescents. As at 2014 statistics revealed that 25% of young adults (12-17years) tried out drugs and alcohol which increased to 40% after four years. The number of children born to teenage mothers is on the increase. It is therefore vital that parent and other agents of socialization address the main issue of sex and substance abuse (drugs and alcohol) with their children and teenagers.
How to Discuss Healthy Substance use and Safe Sex with Adolescents
Be a good role model: Adolescents learn through observation, there is therefore a need to set a good example.
Re-echo the harmful effects of drugs and alcohol on the bodies and minds to the adolescent;
Remind the adolescent of the consequences of premarital sex, including, sexually transmitted infections/ diseases and/or pregnancy (not limited to that);
Teach adolescents about protected sex and the ways in which they can keep themselves safe;
Educate adolescents on the dangers related to the pairing of sex with drugs and alcohol including but not limited to: sexual assault and date rape;
Attend conferences, seminars, workshops and also visit websites that have resources and tips to help you best communicate with adolescents.
Depression is the prolonged feeling of hopelessness, unhappiness and despair. There are diverse reasons an adolescent can go into depression: unsettled home, too much parental expectations, peer pressure etc. There are different types of depression: major depressive order (symptoms constant), minor depression (symptoms lasting less than two weeks), and dysthymic disorder (low mood for most days).
How to Identify Depression
Some of the few symptoms that you can use to identify depression are:
Feelings of hopelessness and sadness;
Loss of interest or pleasure in formerly interesting activities;
Easy to irritate, even over trivial matters;
Feelings of worthlessness;
Thoughts of death and suicide;
Slowness of the mind and body.
If depression is identified in a child/student the family doctor should be the first resource in the treatment of depression.
Parents, teachers and other agents of socialization should be properly equipped to help adolescents deal with their social difficulties. They should be on the watch to detect early any adolescent that is having difficulty and be willing to help such adolescent navigate through the period smoothly or refer them to where they can get appropriate help. The role of parents, teachers and other agent of socialization is key in ensuring a smooth transition of adolescents to adulthood.
Abraham Tanimowo is a child development and family studies specialist. He received his Bachelor of Science degree from the Federal university of Agriculture Abeokuta (FUNAAB). He is presently undergoing a postgraduate study in Child and Adolescent Health at the University of Ibadan, Nigeria with the aim of obtaining a Master of Public Health (MPH) degree. He also has professional certification in project management as well as in health safety and environment
He is a young, smart and strategic individual with a great passion for public health and family life research with a special focus on the health, education and social well-being of children, adolescents and mothers.