Many of us go through periods of doubting ourselves, feeling insecure about who we are, and unsure about our place and value in our world. Developmentally, it is typical for pre-teens and teenagers to go through this period of self-questioning. It can be ‘normal’ for them to feel lost, like a ship adrift at sea.
Feeling lost may lead to feelings of loneliness, nervousness, frustration, and irritability.
Feeling lost may lead to testing of prior knowledge, pushing of established boundaries, lashing out at others (especially loved ones), and thinking nobody understands the pain they are going through.
Many of them may feel like they no longer know who they are and what they are good at. Many of them begin to question their lives – consciously or unconsciously.
SELF DOUBT IS NOT A BAD THING TO EXPERIENCE AS IT MAY BE A CATALYST FOR GROWTH.
Parents and supportive adults can find this period a confusing and frustrating one as well. Nothing they do for the adolescent is right. Everything they do or say is wrong. They want to help but help is rejected. At the same time, they are told they never help. “My teen wants all the freedom but none of the responsibility.”
"Self-awareness is our capacity to stand apart from ourselves and examine our thinking, our motives, our history, our scripts, our actions, and our habits and tendencies." – Stephen Covey
It may feel like a lose-lose situation sometimes. Adolescents are the most insightful, selfless, and rational creatures, said no one ever.
What parents and supportive adults can begin to do are the following:
In most cases, for most human beings, the teenage years is a temporary developmental period. In plain English, it does not last forever. If it helps, tell yourself that an alien is living in your teenager’s brain and after a few years, the alien will move out. Until then, breathe through your nose, monitor their safety, give them space to question, validate instead of lecture, and remind yourself that your sweet child will return to “normal” soon.
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Guest post by Chiu Lau, Principal Psychologist at Possibilities Psychological Services an award-winning, multidisciplinary clinic for children, adolescents, adults, and their families.