Growing up girl has its advantages and disadvantages. Often viewed as an emotional roller coaster, the life of a teenage girl can be mentally and physically exhausting. So, does this mean it has everything to do with hormones? Not necessarily. While female hormones might play a big part, there are other factors that can take a toll on any one adolescent girl.
I look back on my teenage years and although times have changed and generations passed, similar issues still hold true to this day. Now that I’m raising two daughters and watching their relationships with friends, I can honestly say the same fears do apply.
1. BODY IMAGE –
Girls as young as six years old worry about their bodies, suffering from negative body image and low self-esteem. Some of it has to do with the media and advertising impact, and the way it negatively influences the way girls perceive their own bodies. Comparing themselves to others at school, young girls tend to have irrational fears of weight gain and body fat. Another factor is girls mimicking their own mother’s fears of being or becoming fat (I’m totally guilty of that!), and the anxieties that set in while hearing the voices of their own parents. As they navigate their teen years, especially in middle school and high school, one in ten girls do the body bashing thing and fear gaining weight.
2. SCHOOL AND GRADES -
Failure versus success in school is a huge fear that teens identify with. Keeping up with the rigors of academics, knowing how important grades are for their future, the fear sets in and kids are afraid of failing, even if it’s just getting a few poor grades on tests every now and then. Giving up is often the attitude towards feeling overwhelmed and just keeping up with homework load, exams and projects is a challenge. It’s a serious concern, and even staying organized, managing time can put tremendous pressure on those who aren’t the best at prioritizing.
3. PEER GROUPS –
Girls face a lot of peer pressure to fit in and their social life tends to be at the top of their list. The teenage years are scary times for girls. Learning who they are, who they want to become, and where they fit in exactly in terms of social groups are not only confusing, but their own fears of feeling rejected is normal and real. Fear of being different from the rest, or not living up to friends’ expectations, jealousy, and popularity can feel like a teenage pressure cooker.
4. BEING BULLIED –
For the myriad of reasons that drive girls to be downright mean spirited, it’s no surprise then that most girls fear being confronted, ridiculed, teased, or excluded. The emotional aspect of social bullying can be debilitating, leaving girls feeling isolated and alone, with depression sometimes setting in. Fear of being humiliated and bullied amongst peers can affect a girl’s entire world. While many bullies often form alliances or have a sidekick, girls fear being bullied in isolated places too, like bathrooms, locker rooms, hallways, or in other school areas where school staff can’t see. It can happen anywhere, at anytime.
5. RELATIONSHIPS –
Definitely on the top five list! Relationships between boys and girls can change their whole perspective on life. Many adolescent girls fear never being able to find love. Call it a fairytale or romance like that out of a movie, girls in general yearn to find true love. They want to feel desired and understood. On the other side of the spectrum, girls can also be scared of entering into any sort of relationship. Fear of rejection is common, just as much as fear of commitment. Chances are that if they’ve been in a relationship and have gotten their heart broken, they may feel as if they’ll never be able to fall in love again. Feelings of attraction, passion, and romance are full of excitement, but it can also be confusing and scary during the teenage years.
Oh, and don’t just think that you can tell your daughter to not be fearful of whatever it is that’s confronting her. That’ll for sure make her want to shut you out. Rather, validate the fact that she’s going through some scary phases as a teenage girl and that you too experienced some of what she’s going through. Without discounting her fears, your personal stories might just shed some light on the things that are holding her back.
One promise you can make to your own daughter… there is definitely life after middle school and high school.