Every girl dreams of growing up and become independent to do whatever she wants to. At that particular age, it is easier said than done. As they turn thirteen there is an emergence of that transition as they hit puberty. This involves not just biological but psychological changes as well.
A major issue associated with teenage is the ‘identity crisis’ as termed by psychologist Erik Erikson. At this age, the teenager is confused about their identity. On one hand, they may find themselves running away from their parents in an attempt to become an independent individual. On the other hand, they may cling to their parents for helping them fulfill their needs. For example, a girl plans a get-together with her friends but is reliant on her mother/father to drop her to her friend’s place. It is how psychologically speaking; they are in a dilemma as they are not considered as either a child or an adult. This is a factor which causes emotional conflict among teenaged girls. Also, as the teenage girl undergoes many physical changes it causes utter confusion in her about how to deal with these changes.
We tend to associate those ‘emotional rollercoaster’ of emotions with the hormonal changes taking place. However, it is not just about the hormonal changes. Researchers have proven that the brain also has a role to play towards psychological changes. There is a development of the pre-frontal cortex in the brain which plays a role. This part of the brain which exerts a calming, rational influence does not fully develop until adulthood. Studies have stated that these emotional blues of teenager can be seen more in girls.
The various emotional challenges, a teenage girl goes through can be classified as follows:
- Self-consciousness: Girls become hypersensitive towards themselves and their surroundings during teenage. This makes them more sensitive towards things like how they are looking or how are they behaving in front of their peers or it can be about, how their current bodily changes are noticed by people around them. A pimple on their face not just spoils the beauty of their face but it also makes her feel conscious of how other people around her will notice the spot on her face. This self-consciousness also comes from the fact she is undergoing physical changes such as the development of breasts, hips etc.
- Body Image: As teenage girls undergo physical changes due to puberty, they become conscious of their body shape. On top of it, there is media portrayal of females having a zero-size figure being accepted by many in the society. Those with a perfectionist personality and also a low self-esteem, try to emulate these models. This can also lead to abnormal eating habits such as anorexia nervosa and bulimia. Such eating habits are common the girls of teenage. Some of the warning signs of these disorders include:
- Weight changes.
- Obsession with food. Using food for comfort as well as for self-punishment.
- Hoarding of food.
- Changes in clothing style such as wearing baggy clothes.
- Excessive vomiting due to excessive use of laxatives and diuretics.
- Friendships and Need for Belongingness: At this age, it is common to see many teenagers distancing themselves from their parents and having an increased desire to be with people who are undergoing the same phase. They try and imitate their friends’ way of speaking, the way they dress up for occasions, their behavior etc. In this age, there is an excessive prevalence of peer pressure. The present teenager is very much aware when it comes to latest fashion accessories as well as latest gadgets. If they see their friend having the latest iPhone, they would demand the same, from their parents.
- “You should learn from Radhika's mom, she provides so much independence to her”: Teenage girls are often seen comparing their lives with their friend circle. They are often seen blaming their parents as to how they do not provide latest smartphones or any other gadget. Or how they do not let her wear that short skirt or crop top. This also includes the level of independence her friend’s parents have given to her, in terms of going to movies and parties and how their parents have a progressive mindset unlike them.
- Crushes and Relationships: The sudden rush of feelings when girls see their ‘dream boy’ in front of their eyes. They fall for their looks, behaviour and every other thing about them. Their crush is someone in their class or someone they ran into, or a celebrity. The desire is to be with their ‘special someone’ forever. A simple ‘Hi-Hello’ conversation or a text reply from their crush can overwhelm them with emotions. This is also when people develop infatuations. This happens as they see actors on television and cinema romancing and as they see their peers getting committed; this encourages others as well, to have relationships of that kind. Such relationships do not last for long.
- Academics: It is something which should be of priority but adding it, in the end, is because of the fact that all the above-mentioned points, teenaged girls have to ensure that they score above 90-95% so as to meet theirs as well as their parents’ expectations. After all, marks are considered as a benchmark for your intelligence and it determines how successful you become in the future.
For parents, it will be surprising to see how their sweet darling is transforming into a melodramatic, crazy young girl. How can they ensure their teenaged daughter’s healthy development?
- Understanding their viewpoints rather than plainly saying ‘NO’. Let them put their point then patiently asserting their own so that they realize how and where they are required to make the right decision.
- It may also happen that they just want to vent out their frustrations of a bad day at school, for instance. Let them do so and ask whether they need any help or she can deal with it herself.
- Providing their daughter conducive environment so that she can easily discuss her concerns such as about her ‘crush.’ These are forbidden practices in our culture which are why she will feel hesitant to share such stuff.
- Parents need to be patient in dealing with their daughter’s intense emotions and provide knowledge about things like how peer pressures can make her indulge into unhealthy practices like having drugs or alcohol or how relationships involve commitment and not only about liking each other.
- Encouraging their daughter to participate in extra-curricular activities other than studying. This helps in all-round development of their personality
To those teenaged girls having lots of things going on their heads, don’t worry. Everything is going well. If you are going through various emotional problems, admit it and understand its causes. Seek help from an elder you trust or your parents. You can maintain a diary where you can vent out your emotions easily but be your own self and do what is the right thing at that point in time.