An adolescent is in the process of outgrowing childhood and learning to take on the responsibilities of adulthood. This suspended stage of growth may create behavioural changes. The World Health Organization (WHO) defines an adolescent as an individual between the ages of 10 yrs to 19 yrs. This is a crucial period which necessitates sensitive handling. As kids reach adolescence they need us to help them on the bumpy ride to adulthood.
Last month there were two reported teenage pregnancies in Goa. In both cases the unwanted pregnancy was terminated with nod from the parents. Abortion affects the body and mind of the adolescent. This has become a shocking trend. In the above cases both the boy and the girl were minors. Both partners are neither legally nor physically equipped to handle pregnancy and associated responsibility. Additionally the law steps in to compel the girl child to answer a battery of questions to protect her rights.
A number of runaway cases of school children are being reported on a regular basis and many of those missing children are never traced. Adolescents are impulsive and tend to attempt suicide or life threatening behavior. This is a sign of some deeper problems that need to be addressed. Girls also harm themselves, cut their wrists etc. Adolescents also try to control their body beauty and end up with anorexia nervosa, binge eating, body piercing and tattooing.
The behavior of adolescents is to a large extent influenced by norms and mores typical of the culture they belong to. Their sexual orientations are governed by age of consent laws in force in their State. Society also controls the behavior of its growing children.
Adolescence is the period of life from puberty to maturity. Puberty and sexual behavior are related. Sexual activity involves the risk of pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases including HIV/AIDS. The under developed areas of the brain are not yet ready for either risk taking or self control. They are not in a position to make sound decisions or to know the consequences of sexual behavior. This is the time of life which is full of stress and only parental concern and care can help. We will do well to remember the saying, “snow and adolescence are the only problems that disappear if you ignore them long enough.” Avoid the scolding mode.
All girls are strong, smart and bold. Care givers will have to encourage them to be self confident and help them to discover their full potential.
Be a friend and guide to your daughter. Guide her in setting goals for her education and career planning. Strengthen her determination to remain alcohol and substance free. If she begins to teach other children about the damage that addictions cause then it is very likely that she will keep away from addictions herself. Sensitize your daughter to be a media critic so that she knows that movies and television glamorize drugs, alcohol and promote cigarette smoking and that she has to avoid them. Value education, spirituality plays a huge role in her development and growth.
Like I said earlier this is the time of great stress brought on by hormonal changes. Certain methods can be taught to manage stress. Yelling on top of the voice can relieve stress but it has to be without disturbing others preferably in a sound proof room, another stress buster is pillow punching. One thing that works wonders is to sit in a vacant mood and recall any picture stored in the mind which gave peace and tranquility at the time you saw it. Relish this sight as you recall it!