There are several common problems among senior high school students.
Growing up is a pain in more ways than one. It comes with its own set of privileges and subtle perks. But the process to reaching adulthood is lengthy, and no two paths are the same. There is no helpful guidebook, no actual blueprint. We all find our way, one way or another, through a maelstrom of emotional turmoil – especially in the tender high school years.
Many adults might look back on their senior years and laugh about some of their old problems and worries. Oh, to be back in a day and age when their biggest fear was an F in trigonometry or being rejected by a crush. But it’s important to remember that the problems and fears senior high school students have are legitimate to them and can play a significant role in their transition into early adulthood, whether in college or the workforce.
Recognizing, understanding, and supporting your teen through these problems can help prepare them for the future, mold them to be more comfortable and confident in their skin, and provide them with the tools they need to combat other stressors later in adulthood.
In this article, you will discover the most common problems among senior high school students.
Will I Even Need This Knowledge?
Whether it’s geography, advanced algebra, or biochemistry, high school will always include at least one field your teen might have no interest in, yet may be forced to learn. And the retort is always the same: when will I need to recall this information?
The truth is, for many teens, the answer is never. You likely won’t need to understand the intricacies of covalent bonds, and might not be able to concisely explain how and why hydrogen ions affect the acidity of a substance in your late 30s.
But in addition to mastering basic sciences, which serve as a basis for a lot of higher education, learning to absorb and recall information is a crucial life skill. The education system is far from perfect, often promoting rote memorization and recall over mastery and understanding.
But it also asks teens to learn to manage their time, prioritize their education, and make grown-up decisions to sacrifice time spent doing things they might want to do for an investment in their future – lessons that will continue to carry over in adulthood.
Balance is important. Some teens spend too much time studying and not enough time socializing. Others have the reverse problem. High school, or any education involving more advanced topics that require a longer, more arduous commitment to memorizing and understanding the presented information, will challenge teens to balance different aspects of life.
It’s All Just Too Much
Many teens don’t get the support or the leeway they need to truly balance their home and school lives, whether it’s due to excess in extracurricular activities, setting their sights on an expensive and hard-to-qualify-for college, or dealing with the simultaneous pressures of growing up and satisfying the expectations of their loved ones, real or imagined.
If you feel your teen is starting to struggle with the pressure, check in with them. Help them take a load off. Encourage them to relax. Help them manage their priorities so they don’t suffer from procrastination. Hold them accountable when they’re not committing to their promises, but reward them when they are.
I Don’t Want to Be an Adult Yet
Some trends in today’s youth point towards a slower, more gradual path toward adulthood. Whether due to cultural or economic reasons, today’s teens get their first job later, move out of the home at a later age, and engage in sex and alcohol much later than their parents did. There may be a hesitancy toward adulthood.
Is this good or bad? Researchers are split. Ultimately, there is nothing inherently good or bad about delaying some of the responsibilities and expectations of adulthood.
Things Are Getting Worse Out There
Teens care more about societal issues than some adults might be aware of. Today’s teens are quite politically active, and politically aware. Social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter make it easier than ever to engage and organize, and learn more about current issues. But this comes with its fair share of challenges for teens.
Many of them are frustrated by procedural politics and moderate stances, especially with regards to climate change. They feel that current governance is weak or ineffectual and gravitate towards radical change. In some cases, they’re justified in those feelings.
I Can’t Sleep
Teens need sleep, and many aren’t getting enough of it. Lack of sleep or insufficient sleep can affect cognition, memory, and mood and increase stress, reducing the immune system’s strength and leaving teens more vulnerable to acute and chronic illnesses.
Night-time screens are one big issue feeding the problem. Also included are varying study times and heightened expectations at school. Help your teen prioritize rest and recovery to improve their physical and mental well-being.
I’m Not Comfortable in My Own Skin
Eating disorders are more common among teens and young adults than older populations. One factor that may correlate with the increase in rates for cases of body dysmorphia and related eating disorders (including anorexia, bulimia, and binge eating disorder) may be the youth’s higher usage of social media, and targeted advertising.
While previous generations were just as much at the whims of an advertising culture that promoted unrealistic standards and unhealthy practices through TV and magazines – from yoyo diets to unregulated weight loss aids – studies show that social media trends might be even more effective at influencing teenage ideals, and causing a negative mental impact, for example through overedited and filtered pictures of celebrities and influencers with unrealistic proportions.
In addition to body dysmorphia, more and more teens are learning about the signs and symptoms of gender dysphoria and are realizing that they might not feel like the gender they were assigned at birth. Current estimates suggest that about 1.3 to 1.4 percent of teens and young adults experience gender dysphoria or identify as a different gender than the one they were assigned at birth.
Despite a growing tolerance for trans teens in popular media, transphobia has seen a stark increase in recent years. Violence against LGBTQ+ teens spiked in the years after 2016, and suicide rates among trans teens remain disproportionately high versus their peers, including homosexual teens.
In one way, an increased spotlight on the topic of transgender people has led to both greater acceptance and more targeted bigotry.
Many teens who feel like they are experiencing gender dysphoria may have difficulty functioning in school or at home, especially after puberty. Some children begin to develop a gender identity different to the one they were born with as early as ages 3 to 5.
For trans teens in high school, this can mean spending up to a decade openly or secretly identifying as something they cannot outwardly express. This feeling may be exacerbated by the onset of secondary male or female characteristics, such as deepening voices or growing breasts.
The topic of transgender youth is still sensitive and challenging for many families to explore. However, more and more research is highlighting the importance of mental health support; trans teens have a disproportionately higher risk for teenage anxiety, teen depression, ADHD, bipolar disorder, and teen eating disorders.
Today’s teens face many problems, some new and some the same as ever. Helping your teen navigate a complex world is part of growing up.
However, at least one in 20 teens may experience episodes of severe anxiety, and about one in 30 may develop a diagnosis of depression – mental health issues are on a rise and require additional support and compassion. Help your teens seek treatment, develop healthier coping habits, and become more resilient as they become independent.