My Advice for Adults Helping Teens Cope with the Storm and Stress of Adolescence

Dreaming of a hot summers day. Ah, the aspect of dreaming. The reality of summer will or already have hit every teenager in Ireland. We are sun-burned just from the notion of thinking about it! It makes our heart beat every time, making us feel like the adolescents that we are. The mouldy dark cloud that looms on us however, hang on us for one hundred and sixty days of the year. Stuck like glue, adults need to flick this cloud from over us so we can run free and be like hippies, “so we can like, enjoy ourselves dude!”

Most teenagers don’t wish to give up their time to do chores around the house. It takes long enough to complete the dishes to an adequate standard, just in time to watch your favourite television show, before mother says, “one last thing before you go”. How annoying and frustrating for teenagers like me that just want to have our own time to catch up on television, or socialise with friends. The sun shinning brightly, not a cloud in the sky, not even raining! The only negative is that you have mother running you up and down the stairs like a crazed person. “Do the dishes!”, “clean your room!” and “go to the shop and get a two litre bottle of milk, please.” Well at least she said please. Personally, I’m glad when my mother sends me out to the shop to get milk, because at least then I can say “hey there mister blue sky!” Hanging out with your friends and playing sports outside is important for adolescents, plus it’s healthy. Adults, you need to give us teenagers some “me time” and stop treating us like free labour!

The sick churning feeling you get before an exam. We’ve all felt it, whether adult or adolescent. Examinations can be tough to deal with. For some teenagers it can add a lot of stress to their daily lives. As an aspiring adult myself, I have often felt the butterfly moment before an exam, but I deal with it. So do others. For some though, it can get to the point where they purposely miss school to avoid the exam. Some do it for the “craic”, others because they are genuinely afraid. These “others” need to be recognised as people that need support so they can learn, progress and fear not what is only on paper. These exams remind me of fears so many children have, bed time. They are afraid of what lurks in the dark although they are told nothing is there, they still fear the unknown. You can relate such problems to the exams faced by teenagers. They too are afraid of what could happen, although at the end of the day, it’s only a piece of paper. Your health is always more important. Advice for adults, help teenagers prepare, adapt and learn to cope with these affairs, so they can have a healthy life, and healthy marks!

Studying can be a stressful time for adolescents. The pressure is usually immense and the burden of studying seven subjects is eye twitching. We all know how intellectual Cheryl Cole is. Right? Well, Cheryl has a good motto that goes along the lines of “too much of anything can make you sick, even the good can be a curse.” Teenagers are under the impression that they must study for hours on end to achieve fantastic marks. Well this is not the case. Sticking your heads in a book for five hours is not good for your body or health. To add insult to injury, you’ll wake up with a smashing headache and feeling like an air head! More needs to be played on the side of adults to help teenagers study more effectively as this stereotypical way of studying is actually beginning to harm adolescents physically and mentally.

Bullying is a common practice in all schools around Ireland and the rest of the world. “More than a quarter of Irish teenagers say they have suffered school bullying” according to statistics published by the “Irish Independent”. It is almost impossible to hand over advice to adults without mentioning the topic of bullying. In my own opinion, I bet that nearly every teenager has been involved in bullying whether as a victim or as the emotionally deprived “badass” who thinks they are indestructible. Not enough is being done by adults to help teenagers cope with bullying. Almost nothing is done by adults to combat bullying in the school environment. It’s something you see day-in and day-out in schools around the country. It’s all good and well sticking up posters saying, “stamp out bullying” or “lets bully bullying out of school” but what’s this achieving? Is this crime of picking on feeble teenagers being reduced? Well, the answer is no. A zero tolerance attitude needs to be taken by adults to get it in the thick, insecure minds of bullies that this type of behaviour is not welcome, nor shall it be tolerated in society. Teenagers that are being bullied and are resorting to unthinkable measures, to the degree of suicide because of severe depression.

Have you ever felt “down in the dumps?”, low-spirited and emotionally disconnected from the world? Even once? Well, according to “UNICEF Ireland”, close to “One in five young Irish people report being unhappy to some degree”. This must be upsetting to parents of Irish teenagers as they fear for their child’s happiness, but there is even more chilling evidence that says, Ireland’s youngsters are the most depressed in Europe. Anecdotal evidence from “CBT Ireland” says that “Aware” claims “four hundred-thousand people experience depression at any one time in Ireland, and “one in ten adolescents, aged thirteen to nineteen, experience a major depression”. This shocking statement really drives forward how teenagers are easily affected by certain events like, death, bullying and stress. Depression is slowly consuming more teenagers every week in Ireland, and if depression in teenagers are not detected by adults and treated quickly, more and more and even more teenagers are at risk of taking their own lives.

I’m sure everyone has checked themselves out in the mirror before, whether boy or girl, man or woman. Some enjoy their reflection a little too much while others grab a glance before leaving for school or work. Where’s the harm in that? There’s nothing better than standing at your own reflection salivating at the unquestionable beauty that is being portrayed back. If my audience didn’t get this already, well I was being sarcastic. Self-image is an issue teenagers are facing today. Teenagers are looking at the mirror as the eye of a little god. Shows such as “beauty and the geek” are putting tremendous pressure on the young to look and act a certain way. High street stores are sexualising children from as an early age of seven into wearing clothes you would normally only see at a gentlemen’s choice of place. A television show on “Channel 4” called “The Sex Education Show” stated that leading clothes stores such as “Penny’s” and “Matalan” are selling items unsuitable for young girls to be wearing. This is important as these chains are subconsciously setting the trend for the young generation, then in a couple of years time who knows what they will be wearing! This problem is all because of adults. The blame is on you lot! You are dressing your children in a way that in a few years time you’ll be roaring at them to change their clothes. The confidence of teenagers have waned in comparison to a decade ago, so adults, stop and think. Is this suitable for my child?! Later on during their adolescence stage, will I be roaring for something more suitable? The answer will most probably be yes. Help adolescents grow up confident and respectful of self image, as we both know, if people are not happy with their image, drastic measures may be taken to change their look.

You only go through adolescence once. Your one opportunity to do everything you want without judgement or perception. Adults, as the old saying goes, “let kids be kids”, except let us teens be teens. Your job is to make sure we make the right choices in life, not to spoil the craic we’re having. Adolescence is a great time in our lives although we have to cope with the storm and stress of adolescence. In the words of the great Shirley Bassey, “This is my life!”

(Luke Mac an Bháird)