Being a teenage girl is no walk in the park. The statistics say it all. According to NBC News, The American Psychological Association reports that 30 percent of teens report feeling sad or depressed because of high stress levels. Among the top stressors are friend issues and clothes/appearance concerns.
TOP TEEN STRESSORS
Friend problems are one of the biggest issues that teenage girls face. Ever seen Mean Girls? There is more truth to that movie than you might think. Bullying is trending upward and cyberbullying is particularly more present in girls. According to The Daily Mail, girls are twice as likely to be a victim of cyberbullying than boys.
Cyberbullying is particularly painful because unlike traditional bullying, it follows teens home. Pew Research reports that 95 percent of teens are online and have access to the internet all day via their phone and computers.
Even if social media isn’t specifically used for cyberbullying, it can affect teen girls negatively. For example, if your teen gets on Instagram and sees photos of an event she was not invited to she is likely to feel left out.
While bullying among girls might not involve physical violence or outwardly aggressive verbal threats, it often takes the form of rumors, exclusion and passive aggressive insults.
Plus, bullying among girls can be more difficult for teachers and parents to pick up on it and intervene.
Clothing & Appearance
Appearance is the social currency that many teenage girls live and die by. Part of that is the clothes they wear. There is pressure not only look good in the latest trends, but to wear only the top brands — and top brands usually mean expensive brands.
But clothing isn’t just about wearing the latest jeans, it brings up all sorts of emotions around body image. When you throw developing bodies and changing hormones in the mix, it can get crazy.
HOW YOU CAN HELP
Being the parent of a teenager can sometimes make you feel helpless – but don’t despair! There are so many resources and programs that can help. For some it’s counseling or therapy. For others, something more involved like a boot camp or stay at a treatment center.
The first step is realizing that your daughter needs help navigating the stresses of life. Two of the top stresses they need help with our friends and their appearance/clothes.
As far as friend problems go, the first and most important thing you can do is LISTEN. You might ask your teen how their day was and be met with a “fine.” Don’t push it. Often kids pick other seemingly random times to unload their feelings. Even if you are busy or caught off guard, give your full attention when your teen starts to share.
Validate their feelings and let them feel their emotions instead of jumping in with a solution or criticizing their role in their problem. Be the grown-up, resist the urge to rag on their friends in question and help them cast a wider net of peers to befriend and hang out with.
After, and only after, your teen feels heard, understood and loved, gently help them take the high road. Use encouraging language to bring them peace and offer suggestions for dealing with their feelings and tough situations at school. Seek professional help when necessary.
When it comes to clothes and appearance, pick your battles wisely. Many parents worry about their teen dressing provocatively. When it does get extreme, it’s ok to say something — but the way you say it is extremely important. Start by explaining that the clothes she wears send messages to those around her. Talk to her about the messages she wants to send and whether or not her clothes do that. Offer to take her shopping for things you are more comfortable with. A trusted aunt or grandma can even come in handy in these situations because they can offer your teen guidance in a more subtle way.
Encourage your daughter to wear clothes that she feels good in, and never make even the tiniest disparaging remark about her appearance or how something looks on her. Be positive and offer flattering choices, but ultimately let her figure out in her own way what looks good on her shape.
If it’s the budget you are worried about, give your teen a set amount to work with and leave it at that. Let her know she is welcome to work for extra money to buy more clothes if she wants.
If the issue doesn’t seem to be resolving, seek professional help or advice from a counselor or therapist.