It can be easy to dismiss the rollercoaster of emotions that your teen struggles with as a regular part of adolescent development. While it is undoubtedly true that the teen years see young people dealing with many aspects of their lives, some things should be a red flag for parents. One of these concerns could surround the idea of self-identity.
As an adult, how do you face self-identity? How do you view yourself and your place in this world and in the lives of those you love? Do you remember how it felt when you weren’t sure whether you belonged with your group of friends or whether you fit in with those other young moms of toddlers?
To figure out who we are, these struggles often start with a teen identity crisis. With the proper guidance, you can help your teen figure out who they are, where they do and don’t fit in, and help them navigate often turbulent gender identity and sexuality waters.
Some of the areas your teen may be struggling with could include the following.
- Feeling detached from parents and other members of the family.
- A lack of self-esteem and self-confidence.
- Acting out or rebelling.
- Engaging in risky behaviors.
- Having an obsession with symbols of status and brand names.
- Gender confusion or sexual orientation.
Your teen may communicate with you that he is struggling with other self-identity concerns. The approach you take can help him understand who he is and that he always has your support as he faces struggles in life.
Understanding how your teen struggles with self-identity put you in a better position to provide him with the right type of support. It can also help you better understand the kind of professional help that your teen could benefit from.
Feeling detached from parents and other members of the family
It’s normal and expected that your teen is trying to figure out who he is and how he fits into society. Perhaps he holds different political views than you do? While this can be frustrating, it’s not uncommon to see teens shift towards a drastically different viewpoint from what their parents tend to follow.
Your teen may no longer enjoy family activities like game night or family hikes. He may also distance himself from his siblings, cousins, and other family members. While it can be confusing, it is generally because he is trying to find out where he fits into the family. By showing him plenty of support, care, and unconditional love, he will eventually work things out independently.
A lack of self-esteem and self-confidence
It’s not uncommon for teens to struggle with their self-esteem and self-confidence. Introverted teens may struggle with their self-identity if they lack a healthy level of confidence and self-esteem. They may begin to err on the side of negative self-esteem, potentially leading to them struggling with depression, anxiety, and other mental wellness concerns.
Getting your teen into the right therapeutic program can help them learn the skills that will help them identify their strengths as they find their confidence. Doing your part to encourage your teen to pursue the things they enjoy and excel at can help your teen find their self-esteem and healthy levels of confidence.
Acting out, or rebelling, in effort to fit in better
The teen years should be expected to bring a fair bit of teen rebelling and acting out. After all, your teen is trying to navigate a rapidly changing world that is placing increasing demands on him. The behavior you see could take you by surprise, or it may be expected.
Your teen could act out, raise his voice, and get angry if you ask him to complete his assigned chores. He may refuse to do them entirely. He may stay out past curfew without calling. He may take things too far and find himself in hot water with the law. Some of this may also be related to him trying to fit in with his peers who may be staying out late, trespassing, or even shoplifting.
If your teen’s behavior has taken a dramatic shift, it could certainly be a part of him trying to figure out who he is. It could also be a sign that further intervention is needed on your part.
Engaging in risky behaviors
Teens who are struggling with self-identity may engage in risky behaviors. What might this look like? It could involve reckless driving, breaking and entering, causing or getting involved in physical conflicts, and involving drugs, alcohol, or risky sexual behaviors.
While a degree of risky rebellion might be expected, if your teen is struggling in other areas of his life, he could just find himself in serious trouble. Running with the wrong crowd could turn into trouble at school and trouble with law enforcement. Experimentation with drugs or alcohol could turn to abuse.
Risky sexual behavior can get a teen into a world of hurt where teen pregnancy and a range of diseases can become a harsh reality.
If therapeutic solutions don’t seem to be making much progress to help your teen’s behavior turn around, you may find that a residential treatment center is a better option for an out-of-control teen.
An obsession with symbols of status and brand names.
Status, fitting in, and feeling a sense of belonging is vital to a teen. Your teen may become obsessed with the brands and other status symbols that his peers place a high degree of importance on. He may lean more towards the clothing brands his favorite musicians promote. He may try to attain this lifestyle himself.
Whether you provide him with the shoes, clothing, and other brands he wants or find a way to get them himself, this obsession can be troublesome. Indeed, this is all a part of your teen trying to figure out who he is, but if your teen can’t afford to buy the shoes his favorite basketball player is promoting, he may turn to stealing to get them. Not all teens will resort to illegal behavior, of course. Your teen may decide to get a part-time job to afford the items he wants.
While it may be frustrating to see him wanting a pair of shoes when another pair that’s a fraction of the price will do just fine, remember that your teen is just trying to navigate a world constantly telling him who he should be.
Gender confusion or sexual orientation
As if the teen years weren’t already a challenging time for your adolescent, concerns with gender confusion or sexual orientation may become an issue. How can you best help your teen work through any struggles they have with this aspect of their identity?
First and foremost, if you can understand the difference between gender identity and sexual orientation, you’ll be in a better position to help your teen.
Being able to provide your teen with the right type of help to make the right decisions for their future is an important part of being a parent. If your teen is struggling with one or more aspects of self-identity, HelpYourTeenNow can help to connect you with the right type of resources.