8 Things You Must Know about Your Teenagers

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Parents of teenagers face different challenges with their young ones. In fact, for many parents, it’s as if their child suddenly becomes a stranger at this stage.

Parents of teenagers face different challenges with their young ones. In fact, for many parents, it’s as if their child suddenly becomes a stranger at this stage. This does not have to be so; having an understanding of the peculiar nature of teenagers will better equip us to handle some of the teenage idiosyncrasies that may come up at this phase. 

Here are eight of the common character traits found among teenagers

1. THEY ARE ENERGETIC AND DARING

When you read a caption like “Students trek 15km in protest of hike in school fees” on the front page of a newspaper, you are not surprised, why? It is because we know that youths are very energetic. This makes them do things that will almost make an adult faint with shock. They do things that seem highly unimaginable.

An awareness of this strength should make us think of how we can channel their energies into worthwhile ventures. However, because of the metabolic processes taking place in their bodies, they tend to have seasons of genuine physical weakness as well

2. PEER PRESSURE HAS A GREAT INFLUENCE ON THEM

“You are a coward, why are you afraid to take a bottle of beer” one of the guys asked a teenage boy. “I am not interested” he replied. They jeered at him, but he maintained his stand. He told us later that he didn’t enjoy the incident, but we congratulated him for standing firm on his resolution”. (Harassed teenager, personal communication, September, 2011)

Peer pressure is the pressure an individual receives from his or her colleagues to conform to what pleases them. It has a strong hold on teenagers because they love to be accepted by others. The average teenager will not want to be the odd one out in any situation. If a teenager senses that something is unwanted among his peers, he quickly drops it in order to avoid mockery or rejection. If majority says fanciful beret is the in-thing among peers, despair becomes the portion of the youth that does not have the wherewithal to get it.

3. THEY CONSIDER PERSONAL EXPERIENCE A BETTER TEACHER

“My guardian told me to be careful of the kinds of friends I move with when I get to campus, I was also told to avoid going for night parties because bad things happen to people who do. I did not really believe all that was said, I desired to also have some fun, so when some friends invited me to go along for a night party, I agreed because I really wanted to know what it’s all about. I went but I didn’t enjoy it, at a point during the party, guys and ladies paired up to dance and some began to romance themselves. I refused to allow the guy I was paired up with to play with me. He was angry with me and I looked like a spoilsport. Since then, he stopped relating with me, but I do not regret my action. I also lost interest in night parties”.

(Disobedient teenager, personal communication, February, 2005)

It is common to see caring adults call a youth and give him certain instructions to follow. Several times, the instructions include a long list of do’s and don’ts. This is because we do not want the youth to make the same mistakes we made when we were younger. Unfortunately, the average teenager will go and do those things that you asked him/her not to do. In fact, sometimes, it is the instruction that we gave them that aroused their curiosity towards it. But the simple reason why they went into doing it is because they want to experience what we have experienced.

4. THEIR SEXUAL EMOTIONS ARE AT THE PEAK

 “I was ashamed when my neighbour came to report my son, she said he had been making passes at their daughter, and when I confronted him with it, he only looked at me sheepishly.” (Embarrassed mum, personal communication, March, 2013)

(Embarrassed mum, personal communication, March, 2013)

These young ones are at the peak of their sexual emotions. This is the time for them to learn to control their emotions or they will go into terrible unthinkable acts as they seek to explore their sexuality.

5. THEY HAVE A LOT OF QUESTIONS

“How did you feel when you met mum for the first time? Was it the day you met her that you told her you loved her? Did you know she would eventually become your wife?” These are questions by a teenager whose dad gave the permission to ask him questions about dating, but he didn’t expect such a barrage of questions from him”.

(Inquisitive teenager, personal communication, December, 2008)

They have so many questions in their minds, but not all of them are bold enough to ask. If you give a teenager who is free with you an opportunity to ask questions, you would almost call him a ’questionnaire’. They ask questions because they really want to know. Sometimes they will even ask you how much you earn as well as how you spend it because they want to know why you often say you can’t afford certain things.

There is no need to be angry when they ask you seemingly embarrassing questions. Another question that bothers many of them is “who am I?” They desire to understand what their purpose in life is and to know if they are valuable to others. It is all part of what they need to grow up into wholesome adults.

6. THEY CAN BE PASSIONATE ABOUT A CAUSE THEY BELIEVE IN

We read the case of a young man, supposed to be a citizen of Mozambique (reported to have sneaked into the airport in Angola and hid in the extra hollow in the undercarriage of an airplane on commercial flight from Luanda to London on a stowaway attempt. Although he had enough space to hide, he probably didn’t know that the altitude of continental flights could make respiration difficult in such a space. He probably died in transit and his corpse dropped from the sky into a London neighbourhood when the plane released the undercarriage in preparation for landing at the airport. He risked his life and lost it simply because he believed life lived in the other country would be easier. (Evans 2013 in MailOnline)

(Evans 2013 in MailOnline)

Teenagers want something to live for and if need be to die for. They want a purpose for living. Once they feel something is worth risking their lives for, they can be bold and daring about it. It is our duty to direct them to worthwhile ventures. Remember this is the phase when they look for heroes to ’worship’ and imitate.

7. THEY STRUGGLE WITH LOW SELF WORTH

“My daughter can withdraw into a shell for days, losing appetite for food and unwilling to relate with anyone. She feels she is ugly and has no special talent. Anytime she enters into this kind of depression, it takes a lot of reassurance on my part before she begins to relate well again.”

(Apprehensive mother, personal communication, March, 2010)

Several teenagers are dissatisfied with who they are. They wish they were someone else, even the ones you think are already admirable spend a long time in front of the mirror just struggling to look different.

8. THEY TEND TO LOVE MUSIC

“My boy can sing the lyrics of a whole album from the beginning to the end without making mistakes, yet if you ask him to commit some of the things he has been taught in school to memory, he finds it difficult.”

(Puzzled father, personal communication, May 2012)

Youths everywhere love music irrespective of their culture. It is difficult to see a youth who has no flare for music, even if he doesn’t have musical talent, he will still keep himself glued to the music. So musicians are very influential in their world.

On October 26, 1984, 19-year-old John Daniel McCollum reportedly killed himself while lying on his bed listening to a song. His parents went on to sue the singer. They felt that the lyrics (“Made your bed, rest your head / But you lie there and moan / Where to hide? Suicide is the only way out”) from the song by their child’s “idol” pushed him into making this horrible decision. (Reported by Wilkening in http://ultimateclassicrock.com/)

CONCLUSION

Now that we have been able to understand teenagers and the reasons why they behave the way they do, does it mean we should just leave them alone and hope that at least they would stop being teenagers one day, and by then all those peculiarities would have left them? Is the teenage period enough excuse for these young ones to do things the way they want? No! The advantage of our understanding their peculiarities is to help us relate with them better.

Deji Adepeju

Deji Adepeju

Deji is a practising architect and lecturer. He is a passionate follower of Christ and a balanced counsellor who has a passion for youths. Every time spent with him exudes deep thoughts and insights to living. He has a granary of wisdom very relevant to this generation gained from finely brewed encounters he has passed through in life himself

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