Most people move out of the family home and set up their own place during their late teens to late 20s. Whether or not leaving goes smoothly depends on the reasons you are moving out and the nature of the relationship you have with your family.
Reasons to move out of home
You may decide to leave home for many different reasons, including:
- wishing to live independently
- needing to live closer to your place of work or study
- choosing to live with your partner
- conflict with your parents
- being asked to leave by your parents.
Issues to consider when moving out of home
It’s common to be a little unsure when you make a decision like leaving home. Think about:
- whether this is your choice, and if you feel ready, or if you are feeling pressured to move out by other people
- whether you have somewhere safe to live – if you are under 18 you might find it difficult to rent a house or sign a lease.
- whether you have enough money to support yourself – ask someone to help you draw up a budget to be sure that you can afford to cover the essentials like rent, bills and groceries. You could also use the Centrelink How to budget page
You may choose to move, but find that you face problems you didn’t anticipate, such as:
- not being ready – you may find you are not ready to handle all the responsibilities
- money worries – the cost of living independently may surprise you, especially if you are used to your parents providing for everything. Debt may become an issue
- flatmate problems – issues such as paying bills on time, sharing housework equally, friends who never pay board, but stay anyway, and lifestyle incompatibilities (such as a non-drug-user flatting with a drug user) may result in hostilities and arguments.
Moving out of home – worried parents
Think about how your parents may be feeling and talk with them if they are worried about you. Most parents want their children to be happy and independent, but they might be concerned about a lot of different things. For example, they may:
- worry that you are not ready
- be sad because they will miss you
- think you shouldn’t leave home until you are married or have bought a house
- be concerned about the people you have chosen to live with.
Reassure your parents that you will keep in touch and visit regularly. Try to leave on a positive note.
If your family home does not provide support
Not everyone who leaves home can return home or ask their parents for help in times of trouble. If you have been thrown out of home or left home to escape abuse or conflict, you may be too young or unprepared to cope.
If you are living in a foster family, you will have to leave the state care system when you turn 18, but you may not be ready to make the sudden transition to independence.
If you need support, help is available from a range of community and government organisations. Assistance includes emergency accommodation and food vouchers. If you can’t call your parents or foster parents, call one of the associations below for information, advice and assistance.
Carly Snyder, MD is a reproductive and perinatal psychiatrist who combines traditional psychiatry with integrative medicine-based treatments.
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Young adults and millennials are returning home to live with their parents in record numbers. There are many reasons for this, but according to Pew Research, the most prevalent reason for this return to the family nest is the fact that young adults are putting off marriage until later than ever before.
Dating back to 1880, the most common living arrangement among young adults has been living with a romantic partner, whether a spouse or a significant other. This type of arrangement peaked around 1960, when 62% of the nation’s 18- to 34-year-olds were living with a spouse or partner in their own household, and only one-in-five were living with their parents.
A Home of Their Own?
The cost of housing is another factor sending young adults back to their childhood bedrooms or parent’s basement apartments. Whether they are choosing to continue their education, are not earning enough money to live alone, or are actively saving for a home of their own, finances play a big part in young adults choosing to live with their parents well into their 20’s and even in some cases their 30’s.
When faced with living with roommates and sharing living space with people they don't know or don't much care for, millennials are opting for the comfort and security of living with their parents.
Not Interested in Love
Millennials are having far less sex than Gen-Xers or Boomers. Their lack of interest in intimate relationships can be attributed to, among other things, pressure to succeed in their careers, fear of being emotionally hurt, an increase in antidepressant use (which can affect libido), and awkward meet-ups on dating apps. Rather than spending their time and energy looking for love, more millennials are focusing on their health, their jobs, and their friendships.
It's a Lot Easier
Living with family instead of on their own is a lot easier for many millennials, which is another reason they may choose not to fly from the nest. Everyday responsibilities like grocery shopping, house cleaning, cooking and more are often taken care of by the parents by default, giving young adults a lot more free time and less financial expense. Once they’ve returned home and discovered how nice it is to be part of a family, with meals and a clean bathroom, it may be difficult to move out anytime soon, whatever their financial situation may be.
What Parents Can Do to Encourage Their Young Adults to Move Out
Assuming your young adult is making a decent living and can take care of himself, how can parents encourage (or insist) that their children move out of the family home? For many parents, plans as empty nesters or retirees could be put on the back burner, including selling a large home to downsize and moving into the next phase of their lives.
There is no reason why parents should refrain from asking their young adults for a timeline and a plan for the next step in their lives. If young adults seem reluctant to commit to a date or a schedule, parents should take it upon themselves to outline expectations and requirements for their kids to find a home of their own.
When high school graduates move out of the house, many parents wonder “Are they ready?” or “Will they be ok?” Ideally, you have been slowly giving your child more and more responsibility over the years, and they are ready to be fully independent before moving out. But in reality, sometimes schedules and other life demands can get in the way of teaching important—if basic—life skills. Here are eight things our experts say every kid should be able to do in order to be a responsible, independent young adult.
1. Perform basic apartment, dorm room, or house maintenance
It may be annoying to constantly remind your kid to pick up their dishes, clothes, books, etc. but these skills go even beyond tidiness. Some basic skills are required to keep a home functioning and hospitable. Can they unclog a drain, plunge a toilet, or change a vacuum bag? Do they know how to run the dishwasher? These may seem basic, but it’s worth making sure they know how to do this before you get a call at 2AM when they can’t flush the toilet.
2. Do their own laundry
This may seem obvious, but regardless of whether your kid ends up in a dorm, apartment, or house, they are going to have to wash their clothes. While we’ve all been known to shrink a sweater every now and then, your teen should know how to do their own laundry. Clean clothes are half the battle. Can they also iron? Part of being an adult is self-care, and this is one skill that your teen should be able to easily handle on their own.
3. Manage their own schedule
If you handle your teen’s schedule, making sure they got to practice, internships, work, or appointments on time, it’s time to stop. Time-management is very important for young adults, especially if they’re headed to college or going into the workforce. They need to be able to arrive on time, plan for study time and/or meetings, and have some time for fun, too.
4. Make their own appointments
Whether it’s a doctor, dentist, or job interview, your teen should be able to set up their own appointments. It sounds simple, but often parents get into the habit of scheduling on behalf of their kids. Picking up the phone, or booking an appointment online, goes back to your teen being able to manage their schedule and be fully independent. You can still remind them to visit the dentist or go get a physical, but their schedule should be theirs to maintain. And if you’re thinking of setting up an interview for your teen, don’t. Employers will also want to know that your teen is self-sufficient and reliable.
5. Generally navigate without GPS or smartphone
We spend so much time relying on technology to get us from point A to point B, we’re all a bit guilty on this one. But there are going to be times when your teen needs to function without technology. Are they able to get from their dorm to class? Or from their apartment to work? Even if their GPS isn’t working? Do they know how to use the bus, subway, or ferry? A basic understanding of how to get where they need to go is crucial for independence.
6. Manage a budget
Whether you are still involved in your teen’s financials or not, having a basic understanding of budgeting will help set them up for success now and in the future. This includes an understanding of balancing a checkbook (or checking account) and credit if they are using credit cards. Identifying where their income is coming from and how much income they will have is only one part of the equation. What bills are they responsible for, how much are they spending on fun and entertainment, and how much for groceries? And perhaps the biggest question, what will they do if their income is less than their planned spending?
7. Prepare and cook simple meals
They don’t need to be Martha Stewart, but having a basic understanding of how to provide for themselves is a big part of being independent. Smoothies, eggs, salads, and sandwiches are all easy to make and typically healthier than hitting the drive-through. They can’t survive on pizza and soda forever.
8. Solve their own problems
A big part of being independent is the ability to solve your own problems. If they find themselves with a clogged toilet and plunging hasn’t worked, are they able to troubleshoot other options without calling you for help? If they fail an exam or turn in a paper late, will they go to the professor and see if they can do additional work to make up the grade? If their boss gave harsh feedback on a project, will they be more prepared next time?
It can seem like a lot of items to master, but if your teen is showing progress in all of these areas, they’ll be able to fend for themselves. And you can worry less, and instead be proud of the work you put in to get them to be capable adults.
Parent Toolkit resources were developed by NBC News Learn with the help of subject-matter experts, including Faye de Muyshondt, Founder, socialsklz:-) for SUCCESS; Sharon Sevier, Missouri School Counselor Association; and Julie Lythcott-Haims, Former Dean of Freshmen, Standford University.
Millennials have been getting a lot of flak lately for not moving out of their parents' homes as adults. Older generations are quick to criticize and point their finger at millennials and younger adults and pull the "well, back in my day" guilt-trip. And they're not wrong. Back in their day, it was different. Boomers and Gen Xers had the benefits of stable economies and a lack of sky-high inflation to deal with when they came of age, so they were more likely to move out after high school and never look back.
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It's a different world now, as the current crop of young adults keeps reminding us. More folks head back home after college or stay at home while attending college to lower costs and save money for the day when they finally do leave the nest. These are recent trends here in the U.S., but abroad, intergenerational living has been the norm for quite some time.
According to data from the Pew Research Center, across Europe, almost 50% of 18-34-year-olds live with their parents. Numbers are higher in southern and eastern Europe, with western Europe more closely mirroring older U.S. trends of moving out as a young adult and not returning. Census data from Canada, Australia, and Japan show similar increases—42% of Canadian adults aged 20-29, 29% of Australians aged 18-34, and 48.9% of Japanese people aged 20-34 live with their parents. So now the question is why.
Why are more young adults choosing to stay in the family home rather than venture out on their own? Current data from Pew Research might hold the answers.
Not Financially Independent
As it turns out, a lot of young adults are just flat broke. The number of young adults (22 years old or younger) who are financially independent dropped from 34% in 1980 to 24% in 2018. Due to increasing student loan debt, a lackluster job market and the prominence of the gig economy, young adults frequently find themselves consumed in debt at the same age their parents and grandparents were moving out on their own. Living at home with their parents just makes sense as a way to decrease living expenses, pay off debt, and increase their savings. About 60% of parents say they've provided at least some financial assistance to their 18-29-year-old children in the last year. Sixty percent of young adults who have received financial help from their parents say it went toward living expenses like groceries, bills, and tuition.
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According to Lauren Cook a Doctoral Candidate of Clinical Psychology at Pepperdine University, if your young adult has extra cash "it may be an indication that they can afford to live outside the home." Care should be taken though, as they might be used to spending those extra funds on luxuries and not necessities.
"While their priorities may be to keep purchasing non-necessary items, like handbags, video games, and extra clothes, it's a sign that they can utilize those funds to instead pay for things like rent, utilities, and the like," says Cook.
To help ensure your child is financially responsible enough to live on their own and pay the bulk of their expenses, it's a great idea to teach financial literacy at an early age. Teaching your child the difference between wants and needs and how to budget for essentials is a great first step in learning how to live on their own.
Beyond finances, a level of personal responsibility is necessary for kids to thrive outside of their parent's home. Unfortunately, with the rise of so-called helicopter parenting, many young adults aren't used to doing things for themselves. In the Pew survey, around 55% of adults agreed that parents are doing too much for their adult children and cited examples like providing financial assistance (43%), trying to solve their kids problems instead of letting them figure things out on their own (37%), and allowing them to live at home past adulthood (23%).
Young adults have a markedly different perspective from those in older generations with 65% saying their parents do the right amount for them.
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According to trends expert and keynote speaker Daniel Levine, it's not all about finances, however. "While most cultural observers pin this trend exclusively on economics, that doesn't tell the whole story. The other part is about values,' he explains. "Recently, parents have become more attentive to their children compared to decades past, involving themselves more deeply in their kids' lives. Many parents are not unhappy to have their children stay with them longer."
In fact, recent studies have shown that parents who retain close relationships with their adult children are much happier than non-parents of the same age.
Delaying Marriage, Parenthood, and Homeownership
For older generations, the idea of buying a house and starting a family at a younger age was the ideal of success. Levine explains that this, too, is changing. "Many younger Americans are less interested in putting down roots as quickly as their parents did. They know that the word 'mortgage' has its roots in Latin meaning 'death pledge.'"
Unlike previous generations, young adults today are holding off on the two big markers of adulthood—marriage and kids. Over the last 40 years, marriage rates have steadily declined. In 1980, 42% of people aged 18-29 were married compared to 18% in 2018. Similarly, in 2018 70% of people said they had never given birth while in 1980 only 57% reported not having children. The research suggests that these people aren't just not having kids at all, but are waiting until their 30s.
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Young adults are staying in school longer and obtaining more degrees than previous generations, which might be a contributing factor in their hesitance to start families. In 2017, 44% of young women were taking college classes, compared to 25% in 1980 and 37% of young men were enrolled in college in 2017, up from 26% in 1980.
The Bottom Line
Whatever the reasons, there's no doubt that a return to intergenerational living is gaining momentum with millennials and Gen Zers. By remaining in the family home, these young adults may be better prepared, both personally and financially, to take the plunge into independence at a later age and have a greater chance at success in the face of risky job markets and inflating debt.
Stress is not just an adult problem. It’s also a frequent part of the teen experience. Young people experience stress related to school, current events, and preparing for the future according to the 2018 Stress in America survey . Young adults between 15 and 21 known as “Gen Z” are most likely of all generations to report poor mental health making it critical we find ways to be supportive. While some stress is normal and can even benefit teens, if not properly managed it can lead to dangerous choices with long-term health implications. As teens learn to navigate challenges caring adults must guide them towards healthy coping skills.
Preparing Teens to Manage Stress
Managing stress is an important part of building resilience. Having a range of healthy coping skills to turn to allows young people to bounce back from challenges. We hope our children will come to us to talk about the stress in their lives. The reality is they often attempt to manage stress on their own. And in their attempts to reduce discomfort, teens often turn to things that make them feel better quickly . This may include taking part in risky behaviors like drinking or drug use. These short-term “fixes” are often misguided attempts to deal with stress. Equipping teens with a wide range of healthy coping skills reduces the need to turn to worrisome behaviors and supports emotional and physical health.
Adopting a Range of Strategies
The goal is to offer a wide array of healthy strategies so teens have options to draw from when needed. Consider the below coping skills to support teens to tackle stress.
1) Plan Ahead
We can’t always predict when challenges will come our way. But we can plan ahead. The ultimate way to plan ahead is to … literally make a plan! The CPTC offers a personalized stress management plan for teens that provides a set of strategies to choose from. Share this plan with your teens to inspire them to think about how they will deal with future stress.
2) Break Problems Down
It’s hard to think clearly when stressed because hormones and emotions are running high. The brain has trouble processing information and making decisions. This is true for adults and even more so for teens whose brains are going through a considerable period of growth. That’s why it’s important for teens to take time to process feelings and restore calm before making decisions. Guide them to tackle one problem, or even one piece of a problem, at a time. They could make lists. Map out the pros and cons of each choice. Or bounce ideas off someone else. In short, they’ve got to find ways to break seemingly big problems down into more manageable pieces.
3) Deal with Emotions
Stress causes all kinds of uncomfortable feelings. Anxiety, tension, frustration, and nervousness to name a few. It’s important to release these emotions in healthy ways. Some people find writing about their feelings in a journal to be helpful. Others benefit from creatively expressing themselves through art, music or dance. Some people like to meditate or pray. Talking to a trusted adult or friend about feelings can be healing.
4) Attend to Physical Health
Exercise is one of the best ways to deal with stress . It’s also important to eat healthy, get enough sleep, and build some relaxation time into busy schedules. When teens are healthy and relaxed they will have the energy needed to endure challenges. So encourage them to get moving, to listen to calming music, read for pleasure, or pursue a favorite hobby.
5) Avoid Stressful Things
While some situations need to be faced head on, others can be avoided altogether. This doesn’t mean running away from problems. It’s about being thoughtful of the people, places, and things that cause discomfort. Help teens figure out what’s causing them stress and encourage them to avoid the stuff they can. This kind of self-awareness is empowering. Read this for more.
There is no one-size-fits-all way to handle stress. What works for one person might not for another. And there are nuances to every situation. So it helps to have a wide range of strategies to pull from. Above all teens must know they are not alone. There are people trained to help. While it’s clear teens are facing unhealthy levels of stress, some good news came from the Stress in America survey — Gen Z is more likely to seek professional help when they’re struggling. Reinforce that asking for help is a sign of strength. School counselors, health care providers, or mental health professionals are just a call away. If you are concerned for your child, read this piece on getting teens professional help.
Being a teenager is difficult no matter what, and the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) is making it even harder. With school closures and cancelled events, many teens are missing out on some of the biggest moments of their young lives — as well as everyday moments like chatting with friends and participating in class.
For teenagers facing life changes due to the outbreak who are feeling anxious, isolated and disappointed, know this: you are not alone. We spoke with expert adolescent psychologist, best-selling author and monthly New York Times columnist Dr. Lisa Damour about what you can do to practice self-care and look after your mental health.
1. Recognize that your anxiety is completely normal
If school closures and alarming headlines are making you feel anxious, you are not the only one. In fact, that’s how you’re supposed to feel. “Psychologists have long recognized that anxiety is a normal and healthy function that alerts us to threats and helps us take measures to protect ourselves,” says Dr. Damour. “Your anxiety is going to help you make the decisions that you need to be making right now — not spending time with other people or in large groups, washing your hands and not touching your face.” Those feelings are helping to keep not only you safe, but others too. This is “also how we take care of members of our community. We think about the people around us, too.”
While anxiety around COVID-19 is completely understandable, make sure that you are using “reliable sources [such as the UNICEF and the World Health Organization’s sites] to get information, or to check any information you might be getting through less reliable channels,” recommends Dr. Damour.
If you are worried that you are experiencing symptoms, it is important to speak to your parents about it. “Keep in mind that illness due to COVID-19 infection is generally mild, especially for children and young adults,” says Dr. Damour. It’s also important to remember, that many of the symptoms of COVID-19 can be treated. She recommends letting your parents or a trusted adult know if you’re not feeling well, or if you’re feeling worried about the virus, so they can help.
And remember: “There are many effective things we can do to keep ourselves and others safe and to feel in better control of our circumstances: frequently wash our hands, don’t touch our faces and engage in physical distancing.”
2. Create distractions
“What psychologists know is that when we are under chronically difficult conditions, it’s very helpful to divide the problem into two categories: things I can do something about, and then things I can do nothing about,” says Dr. Damour.
There is a lot that falls under that second category right now, and that’s okay, but one thing that helps us to deal with that is creating distractions for ourselves. Dr. Damour suggests doing homework, watching a favourite movie or getting in bed with a novel as ways to seek relief and find balance in the day-to-day.
3. Find new ways to connect with your friends
If you want to spend time with friends while you’re practicing physical distancing, social media is a great way to connect. “I would never underestimate the creativity of teenagers,” says Dr. Damour, “My hunch is that they will find ways to [connect] with one another online that are different from how they’ve been doing it before.”
“[But] it’s not going to be a good idea to have unfettered access to screens and or social media. That’s not healthy, that’s not smart, it may amplify your anxiety,” says Dr. Damour, recommending you work out a screen-time schedule with your parents.
4. Focus on you
Have you been wanting to learn how to do something new, start a new book or spend time practicing a musical instrument? Now is the time to do that. Focusing on yourself and finding ways to use your new-found time is a productive way to look after your mental health. “I have been making a list of all of the books I want to read and the things that I’ve been meaning to do,” says Dr. Damour.
“When it comes to having a painful feeling, the only way out is through.”
5. Feel your feelings
Missing out on events with friends, hobbies, or sports matches is incredibly disappointing. “These are large-scale losses. They’re really upsetting and rightly so to teenagers,” says Dr. Damour. The best way to deal with this disappointment? Let yourself feel it. “When it comes to having a painful feeling, the only way out is through. Go ahead and be sad, and if you can let yourself be sad, you’ll start to feel better faster.”
Processing your feelings looks different for everyone. “Some kids are going to make art, some kids are going to want to talk to their friends and use their shared sadness as a way to feel connected in a time when they can’t be together in person, and some kids are going to want to find ways to get food to food banks,” says Dr. Damour. What’s important is that you do what feels right to you.
6. Be kind to yourself and others
Some teens are facing bullying and abuse at school due to coronavirus. “Activating bystanders is the best way to address any kind of bullying,” says Dr. Damour. “Kids and teenagers who are targeted should not be expected to confront bullies; rather we should encourage them to turn to friends or adults for help and support.”
If you witness a friend being bullied, reach out to them and try to offer support. Doing nothing can leave the person feeling that everyone is against them or that nobody cares. Your words can make a difference.
And remember: now more than ever we need to be thoughtful about what we share or say that may hurt others.
Stay informed with the latest information on the coronavirus (COVID-19)
Interview and article by Mandy Rich, Digital Content Writer, UNICEF
This article was originally published on 20 March 2020. It was last updated on 24 August 2020.
While it can be normal for a teenager to lack confidence at times, people with self-esteem issues normally view themselves differently to how others view them.
Low self-esteem can be particularly hard for young people especially when they’re doing things like starting high school or work, and forming new friendships and relationships. Keep reading to understand self-esteem issues that may come up for your teenager and ways to help your child feel better about themselves and their capabilities.
This can help if you:
- suspect your child is suffering from low self-esteem
- want to learn how to build your child’s self-esteem
- would like to identify the causes of your child’s low self-esteem.
Why your child’s self-esteem is important
Positive self-esteem for teens is important as it allows them to try new things, take healthy risks and solve problems. In turn, their learning and development will be productive and will set them up for a healthy and positive future. A young person with healthy self-esteem is more likely to display positive behavioural characteristics, such as:
- acting independent and mature
- taking pride in their accomplishments/acheivements
- accepting frustration and dealing with it responsibly
- trying new things and challenges
- helping others when possible
How can low self-esteem affect my child?
When someone has low self-esteem they tend to avoid situations where they think there’s risk of failure, embarrassment or making mistakes. These can involve school work, making friends, and trying new activities, which are all important parts of a healthy teenage life.
If the low self-esteem is not identified and treated, then it can lead to problems such as:
- relationship troubles or difficulty making friends
- – negative moods such as feeling sad, anxious, ashamed or angry
- low motivation
- poor body image
- earlier sexual activity
- drinking alcohol and/or taking drugs to feel better
What can cause low self-esteem?
How a person feels about themselves is a result of their experiences and how they deal with situations. The most common causes of low self-esteem in teenagers are:
- unsupportive parents, carers or others that play an influential role in their life
- friends who are bad influences
- stressful life events such as divorce or moving houses
- trauma or abuse
- poor performance at school or unrealistic goals
- mood disorders such as depression
- bullying or loneliness
- ongoing medical issues
Signs of low self-esteem
A child with low self-esteem will more than likely be having negative thoughts about their worth and value as a person. Some general signs that your child has low self-esteem include:
- avoiding new things and not taking up opportunities
- feeling unloved and unwanted
- blaming others for their own mistakes
- – not being able to deal with normal levels of frustration
- – negative self-talk and comparisons to others
- fear of failure or embarrassment
- difficulty making friends
- low levels of motivation and interest
- can’t take compliments and shows mixed feelings of anxiety or stress.
There are things you can do to support your child to have positive self-esteem, but it’s also important to remember that teenage self-esteem develops and changes quite frequently overtime. If your child doesn’t show signs of positive self-esteem immediately, it doesn’t necessarily mean you’re doing something wrong!
Cancer treatment has been a major part of your life for some time. Now that treatment is over, your routines, emotions, and priorities will change again as you adjust to life after treatment.
You will likely notice that you are not quite the same as you were before cancer. Any major experience like cancer can make you see life in a new way. You might find that your priorities and goals have changed. You do not have cancer anymore, but you will always be a cancer survivor. You might feel happy, relieved, and excited that treatment is over, as well as many other emotions.
Nervous about going back to work or school if you took time off.
Embarrassed about how you look, possibly because of scars from treatment or hair that has not grown back yet.
Upset that you cannot do some things you used to because of changes in your body, or because your body is still recovering.
Sad or lonely. You might miss the friends you made in treatment, your doctors and nurses, and any support groups you joined.
Guilty that you are getting better while some friends with cancer are not
Uncertain about your future
Changes in your daily life
You will probably spend much less time visiting the doctor. You might also be returning to school or work and have more free time for activities you enjoy. It is important to go back to activities only when you feel comfortable. Also, recognize that some things might not be the same. For example, you might have less energy or not enjoy certain activities as much anymore, or you might have some new friends and interests. Learn more about cancer and friendships.
You might also have financial concerns after treatment. Many people have difficulty paying for cancer treatment, even if they have insurance. You can talk with a social worker or financial counselor at the hospital or cancer center about your concerns. Many other resources are available to help with bills after you finish treatment.
Coping with changes after treatment
Here are some ways other young cancer survivors have coped with changes after treatment:
Keep talking about how you are feeling. Talk to a close family member or friend, someone on your health care team, or a counselor.
Keep in touch with people you met during your cancer treatment. You can also look forward to meeting new people in this new phase of life.
Attend a support group in person or online. You might be able to find one for teen or young adult cancer survivors.
Help other teens or young adults with cancer to share what you have learned.
Do things you enjoy. Consider exploring new activities and trying to master new skills.
Managing your health for the long term
You might be relieved to take a break from focusing on your health after treatment ends. But managing your health is still important. Here are some things to plan for as a survivor:
Follow-up care. You need regular follow-up care with your oncologist for at least a couple of years after treatment ends. This care includes checkups to make sure that the cancer has not come back and to learn how your body is recovering from treatment.
Watching for late effects. Your doctor will also look for late effects of treatment. These are side effects that happen months or years after cancer treatment.
Changing doctors. You will probably switch from your oncologist to your primary care doctor, or family doctor, sometime after treatment ends. If you do not have a primary care doctor, you can ask your oncologist to recommend someone. It is important to have a doctor who knows about the possible late effects of cancer in young adults. Or you can ask about follow-up care at a hospital or cancer center in your area. Some hospitals have programs that provide long-term care for cancer survivors.
Keeping your medical records. It is important to keep copies of your medical records from cancer treatment. The American Society of Clinical Oncology offers survivorship care plans to help you track the treatment you received and develop a care plan after treatment. Ask your health care team about getting copies of your medical records.
Teens and young adults need to be able to manage day-to-day tasks on their own before moving away from home.
Learning how to shop and manage money is important for independent living.
Some independent living skills are difficult for people with severe learning and thinking differences.
When kids have severe learning and thinking differences, it’s common wonder if they’ll be able to live independently. With the right preparation, kids with more severe learning disabilities or ADHD can succeed at living alone. But before they move out, they have to be able to manage day-to-day tasks on their own.
Kids also need to be emotionally ready to live alone. This means they have to be comfortable being away from your home for long periods.
Here are key skills teens and young adults need before they move away from home and live independently.
1. Personal care
Practicing good personal hygiene, such as taking showers and brushing teeth regularly.
Taking part in activities to stay physically fit, such as joining a community softball team or just taking a daily walk.
Understanding the dangers of smoking, drugs, alcohol, unprotected sex, and abusive behaviors.
Knowing when to seek medical care and how and when to take medication.
Trouble with personal care can have a big impact on social and work relationships. That’s why it’s important to regularly involve kids in shopping for personal care items before they move out. This can help them understand how much these things cost and how often they need to be replaced. You can also encourage kids to keep a list of the personal care items they need and where to buy them.
When kids take medication, like ADHD medication , it’s important to work with them to create a list of the medicine they use and a calendar of the days and times they need to take it. They’ll need to know how and where to refill medication, too. Have your child practice calling the doctor and the local pharmacy to order prescriptions. And make sure your child understands the dangers of ADHD medication abuse . For instance, it’ll be important to store medication in a spot that’s safe from roommates or visitors.
One minute your little angel, the next, devil in disguise? Your volatile young teen isn’t unique in that.
If you’re the parent of a young teen with intense mood swings, researchers have good news. Those emotions are probably normal and should calm down as your child moves through adolescence.
But if stormy emotional seas don’t subside as teens move toward young adulthood, it may be a warning to parents of larger problems.
Researchers in the Netherlands followed 474 middle- to high-income Dutch adolescents from ages 13 to 18. Forty percent of the teens were considered high risk for aggressive or delinquent behavior at age 12. At various times over five years, the teens rated their daily moods with regard to happiness, anger, sadness and anxiety.
Teen mood swings are most volatile in early adolescence and tend to stabilize as teens get older, the researchers said in a study published Wednesday in the journal Child Development. In the early teen years, cognitive control systems lag behind emotional development, making it hard for adolescents to cope with their emotions, Hans Koot, a professor of developmental psychology at Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam and principal investigator of the study, wrote in an email. Beyond the biological factors, there’s also a good deal of change in adolescence, Koot says, including the start of high school, butting heads with parents and experiencing first loves and breakups.
As teens get older, research shows that they get a better handle on their ability to control emotions, conflicts with parents simmer down and they generally learn more adaptive ways to deal with their moods, according to Dominique Maciejewski, the study’s first author and a Ph.D. student at Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam, in an email.
The findings make sense from both a biological point of view and from clinical experience, says Pam Cantor, a clinical psychologist who specializes in working with children and adolescents in Natick, Mass. As teens get physically and mentally more mature, things calm down, she says. With one exception, and that is in the case of mental illness. Cantor says that illnesses such as schizophrenia may not appear until later adolescence.
Although the Dutch researchers found that the volatility of happiness, sadness and anger declined as teens aged, feelings of anxiety remained variable. Anxiety increased toward the start of adolescence, then decreased, then increased again toward the end of the teen years – which might be due to the uneasy transition toward adulthood.
As they approach the end of adolescence, teens are dangling between the dependency of childhood and the responsibilities of adulthood, Maciejewski says. It can feel daunting to prepare to leave high school, head off to college or into a job and become more financially independent. “All these factors . can be scary and thus could induce more swings in anxiety in late adolescence,” she says.
While teenage girls had more intense swings in happiness and sadness than teenage boys, the gradual stabilization in moods across the teenage years was similar for both sexes.
But how do parents know when to wait out the moods – and when to worry? These researchers say it’s difficult to know, primarily because every teen is unique. “Parents need to worry when their adolescent child does not show the normative decline in mood variability,” Koot says. That might mean a 16- or 17-year-old who is having serious mood swings that are increasing, instead of declining, the researchers say.
Psychologist Cantor says it can be tough for first-time parents of a teen not to worry – parents who are going through the teen years with second or third children tend to have more faith from those prior experiences that things will work out.
The best approach for parents is to remain calm, composed and patient when interacting with a moody teen, Koot says. Listen openly to the teen’s feelings and offer solutions or alternate interpretations if the teen is open to them, he says. “If mood swings do not gradually dissipate with this type of approach – or when, despite careful parental attention, mood swings stay high in late adolescence – professional help may be needed,” Koot says.
Cantor agrees. “It’s better to err on the side of caution and call a professional,” she says, “than it is to miss something and feel remorseful later on.”
What’s needed is more research into teens who don’t fit into this trend, Maciejewski says. “Specifically, are there adolescents who do not stabilize in their moods and what consequences does that have for their development?” she says.
Overall, though, try not to worry too much about your teen’s moodiness, Koot says. Talking with other parents about their kids can put things into perspective, he says. And it doesn’t hurt to remember back to your own turbulent emotions as a teen, too.
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6 Tips to Help Teens Ease Into Adulthood
Posted on October 5, 2017 by Carizon Staff
Teenagers are on the brink of the adult world, looking in, longing to belong. They are also children, struggling through a developmental milestone. They begin to physically look like adults, do what adults do such as drive cars and work, and develop adult interests. Yet they have only the life experiences of a child. This presents a challenging transition between the responsibilities of adulthood, and the innocence of childhood.
It can seem a daunting evolution. Some teens go through the transition more quickly and easily than others, adapting to the responsibilities that come with the freedom of adult choices. Mistakes can have large consequences at this stage of life. How frightening for parents to watch, knowing life can change dramatically in the spur of a moment. Lives have been lost due to poor choices. This is the nightmare parents hope remains outside their realm of reality.
And, in trying to keep their children safe, parents struggle with the choice of letting natural consequences take effect, as severe as they may be, or placing their own extrinsic controls over certain behaviors, during a time when their children are eager to defy or ignore any limitations placed on them.
So, how best can parents ease this transition for their teens:
- Provide choices that seem appropriate to each specific child. Not all teenagers have the same skills or temperaments. Appreciate and acknowledge the unique gifts and needs that maintain your teen’s individuality. Permit your teens to express themselves and be careful not to impose your own vision upon them.
- At the same time, stay firm in your beliefs and values. Know yourself, for at no other time are your own values more challenged than by a questioning teen. Provide clear expectations of behaviour, and provide rewards and consequences according to positive and negative behaviour.
- Listen to your teen. Teens today face extraordinary degrees of stress. Do not dismiss their worries and concerns, but empathize and strategize together. Help them to develop confidence in their skills.
- Expect mistakes. Berating your child for making poor choices does not undo the problem. Allow natural consequences to teach as often as possible. Part of gaining confidence and living up to responsibilities is learning to deal with the consequences of a mistake. Mistakes without consequences teach nothing.
- Be patient. Adolescence is a time of great egocentricity. As hormone levels fluctuate, physical and emotional changes sometimes take over all rational thinking. It is a time of confusion, trying to figure out new feelings. It takes a lot of introspection. Teens can seem obsessed with their own wants and needs, ignoring things outside themselves that feel uninteresting or unimportant.
- Respect your teen’s need to return to childhood occasionally. Taking on new responsibilities can be overwhelming at times. When children feel insecure they seek the comforts of home again. Be there and keep the communication door open.
Graduating from secondary school can also be a challenging time for teens. Carizon delivers two workshops as part of its Life Transition Series to help youth and parents through this period of transition.“After Graduation” is for youth 17/18 to help them prepare for this postsecondary transition. “Guiding Your Graduate” is for parents looking to effectively coach their teen beyond high school. Both workshops are offered at Carizon on Tuesday, November 7, 6:30 – 8:30. Call 519-743-6333 to register. Carizon Life Transition Workshops Flyer
Teen loneliness. It seems the opposite of what most folks would think, but more and more surveys are finding that teenagers and young adults today may be lonelier than any other age group – even older adults. If young people are in high school or college, around friends, playing sports, or at home with family, it just doesn’t seem to make sense.
Yet the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) recently did a large national survey and found that four out of 10 young people ages 16-24 were pretty lonely, describing themselves as: feeling misunderstood (not unexpected in teens); sad, suffering from FOMO (fear of missing out); not having anyone to talk with; and feeling detached from the world. What’s concerning about this is that research shows there are medical and psychological consequences of loneliness, including the following:
- Emotional fallout: depression and increased risk of suicide.
- Poor sleep and consequences of sleep deprivation: cognitive impairment, inattention, emotional blunting, decreased productivity.
- Inability to self-regulate: emotional over-eating, excessive drinking, smoking, or drug misuse behaviors, which may serve as a means to soothe unbearable feelings of isolation. These have medical consequences such as obesity, high cholesterol, known consequences of tobacco use (high blood pressure, cancer risk), possible addiction.
- Greater risk of medical issues: problems with the immune system, leading to viral and other infections and inflammatory illness.
Why Are Teens So Lonely?
So, what causes loneliness? In medical and psychological literature, there are three causes of loneliness in all age groups.
- First is the loss of a loved one or someone to which one has a strong attachment – a death, or breakup in a relationship, loss of a job, leaving a community such as high school, college, a job or the military.
- Another cause is the feeling of being excluded from others, such as peers, family or a community. This carries with it feelings of low self-esteem, devaluation or a sense of absence of acceptance.
- And the third is super important. Loneliness does not necessarily mean being alone. It’s the feeling of aloneness even in the presence of others. Loneliness is a perceived, individual experience. There’s a sense of detachment, alienation, and isolation.
Teens and young adults may be more vulnerable because of typical developmental – they are in the process of forming a sense of identity, and seeking who they are and where they belong in the world. This is usually a stressful and confusing period in life, often filled with drama and loss or changes in relationships.
Young people also haven’t developed the coping skills of adults to deal with challenging situations like tolerating the feelings of isolation. Their brains haven’t developed fully enough to dampen the power of their emotions – they can’t yet use their higher, rational abilities, to regulate their feeling, reactions, and impulses. These processes may make FOMO more intense.
On the other hand, the BBC found that among lonely teens, empathy actually increased. So, for all the challenges it presents, the experience of loneliness may foster a greater ability to put oneself in another person’s shoes.
What Can Teens Do to Combat Loneliness?
If there’s a young person in your life, it’s important to be aware of this growing trend in teen loneliness. And if you know a teen or young adult who may be struggling with these feelings, here are some tips to share with them that may help to prevent or diminish loneliness.
- Extend yourself by giving to others. Reaching out to others is key. This may be helping others in need, becoming a volunteer in providing services in your community, or joining a community organization. The process not only helps extract you from physical isolation, the gratitude of connecting with others is a relief. We also know that the process of giving releases oxytocin in the brain, and this is instrumental in feeling attached.
- Join a group with others who are experiencing loneliness. The process of talking about your own story and hearing the experience of others is often really helpful in not feeling so alone. Humans respond empathetically and in other emotional ways to the stories of others. Since lonely teens may have increased empathy, these interactions enhance mutual feelings of affirmation and validation, and improve self-esteem.
- Get a pet. There is a wealth of research on the value of pets for emotional well-being. These relationships also cause the release of oxytocin as a consequence of attachment. Oxytocin is a powerful chemical in the brain that promotes feeling soothed and in touch with others. Pets provide emotional support and connection. Caring for pets is a joyful experience.
- Practice mindful awareness. Loneliness is your subjective feeling and perception. Many folks who are lonely experience their situation as “the way life is.” If you see this as your fate, it may well lead to a lack of motivation to change things – a self-fulfilling prophesy. Remember that thoughts are not facts. So, nailing down some specific negative thoughts you have about your feelings of loneliness may be a start in helping you to realize how exaggerated they are. Things like, ‘I’m not worth anything, nobody likes me,” or “There is no hope for connecting with others, they all like somebody else,” are examples of how we all have thoughts that are overblown or just wrong. The point of this kind of mindful awareness to change emotions is to identify the thoughts that are exaggerated or distorted and then work (with a therapist, and then on your own or with a family member or friend) to change this way of thinking.
- Try to understand why you are lonely. You may feel lonely because of a significant loss, by being excluded from a group or a community, or because of your state of mind, even in the company of others. It’s really important to understand that loneliness is a personal feeling. Not everyone who loses someone feels lonely. Some just feel sad. If you feel lonely even in a crowd, it may be that earlier in life you did not have people around you who encouraged connection, understanding, or empathetic communication. By figuring out from where your personal loneliness stems, you can then find ways to address it. The key is that emotional struggles that require change can only be solved if we find the root cause, so we can take the best next steps.
- Immerse yourself in creative arts. While you may find yourself alone at times, engaging in the arts can often provide relief. When we read a good book, watch a captivating movie, or lose ourselves in music or a work of graphic art, we may be able to distract ourselves from the painful feelings of loneliness and improve our mood. The arts are not only distractions, but also have healing properties in themselves.
- Join a community. We humans are pack animals, not hermits. Our brains are wired for social interactions and connection. Communities are organized around missions – religious, spiritual, political, and others. They bring us together with common goals. They also help us feel that we are part of something bigger than ourselves.
Keep in mind, while we hope you’ll share these tips with a young person in your life, they are great for anyone, regardless of age. It’s not pleasant to feel lonely, and it may take some effort to overcome the painful feelings of isolation. But with personal effort and the support of others, there are ways we can feel connected and renew a sense of personal well-being.
I am watching television when my daughter comes over for a cuddle. Nothing unusual in that, perhaps, except that she is 23, has a full-time job, and is used to travelling round the world on her own. Most of the time, her response to even an affectionate hair ruffle is to dart away.
So while this momentary closeness is a poignant reminder of her earlier years, I feel a touch of anxiety as well. Is anything going on in her life that she needs help with? Any worries? And what can – or can’t – I ask?
The truthful answer is, probably not that much. Negotiating your offsprings’ early 20s can be one of the trickiest periods in a parent’s life, and is certainly the least charted. While the market is saturated with books on babyhood, early childhood and the teens, there are remarkably few about the young adult phase, particularly its deeper emotional aspects. All of which is a pity, as I have lost count of the conversations I have had with puzzled, confused or disappointed parents of sons and daughters aged around 18 to 25, unsure of how to handle their own or their children’s emotions.
As the mother of a 21-year-old told me plaintively: “My daughter and I used to talk about everything, we were so close. Now we can just about get through a discussion on what to eat for supper.” A father of two young adults puts it well: “I am so careful to respect their space, not to intrude, that I fear I end up looking as if I simply don’t care.”
Like most of my friends, I left home straight after university. “It would have been plain weird to live with my parents after the age of 18 or 19,” says one friend. Nowadays, of course, a large number of young adults still live at home, most working hard to establish solid incomes and relationships and master the practical skills of living, but inevitably radiating an air of despondency because of the difficulty of acquiring sufficient resources to set up independently.
But the despondency can work both ways. Says the mother of one 24-year-old: “My daughter has recently moved back in with me after three years living and working in another city. I thought we had done the separation thing successfully. I have settled down to life on my own and am relishing it. Don’t get me wrong, we are really close. But having her back in my home? Well, I’m beside myself, which, of course, makes me feel guilty.”
Living with adult children makes it even harder to stand back and let them fix their own emotional problems. A friend whose son experiences occasional bouts of depression says: “When he was younger, I would have made doctors’ appointments or suggested the right book to read and he would have accepted it. Recently, I made some useful suggestions and he said: ‘I’m sorry this just isn’t helping me.’ He shut the conversation down.
“It was a more adult dismissal, not a teenage fit of pique. And he was right, of course. It alerts me to the fact that I can’t fix stuff and he doesn’t want me to. But it feels very hard, partly because we are living under the same roof and I can see the mistakes he is making on a daily basis.”
I have learned to draw on what I call the “being alongside” strategy first developed during the more explosive, but hands-on, teenage years. Lifts and walks, visits to the shops, cooking a meal together: freed of the weight of expectation, the talk will often flow more freely. Indeed, it may positively tumble out, wholly unedited.
Slowly, I have learned to listen more, and talk less, so that nowadays I largely stay silent, bar encouraging murmurs, or prompt questions, offering little commentary or advice (which is surprisingly hard) unless asked (which, these days, I almost never am).
More broadly, I am convinced that taking a genuine interest in our young adults’ lives as they are, not as we wish they should or could be, is an essential part of navigating this tricky phase. Rather like the skills of a loving friendship, which a surprisingly high number of adults never master either, it is not easy to get right, but all too clear when it goes wrong.
We have all met the parent who vocally disapproves of a child’s partner because they are of the wrong sex, class or ethnic background, or the mother or father who has a fixed idea of what success looks like and is disdainful or judgmental of different paths or periods of experimental uncertainty. Almost all parents have struggled with similar feelings, but the important thing is to learn to keep them contained.
On the other hand, a little effort goes a long way. As our children get older, move away, leave home for college or university, we often don’t know their friends or understand their social world, or not in the way we did when they were little and under our care or control.
I believe it helps enormously not only to make these new friends and interests welcome, but to display curiosity, empathy and kindness in relation to our children’s developing – and inevitably separate – life choices. I learned this years ago, when a man I knew in my 20s told me that when his best friend at university killed himself, he wanted his parents to go to the funeral, even though they had only met the friend a couple of times. They refused on the grounds that this loss was really nothing to do with them. He never forgave them for what he saw not just as their callousness to the dead friend’s family, but their refusal to accept what mattered so much to him. That breach endured and coloured his relationship with them for decades.
Many physical, mental, emotional, and social changes are associated with the adolescent and teen years. Teens and adolescents develop their own personalities and interests and want to become more independent.
This transition period can be challenging, especially for people affected by spina bifida. It is important for the parents and caregivers of adolescents and teens with spina bifida to take active steps toward making them independent starting in childhood, so that by the time they are older they can develop the necessary skills to help them reach their full potential.
As people with spina bifida mature, they will perform more and more activities themselves. Most teens will dress and bathe themselves, manage their bathroom plans, and move about independently in their homes and communities. They might begin to make their own doctor appointments and continue to participate in updating their own Individualized Education Plan (IEP) or 504 Plan, if they have one. They also should participate in a seating or wheelchair evaluation at least once each year if they use a wheelchair. This evaluation will make sure the wheelchair fits correctly and makes moving as easy as possible.
The Spina Bifida Association has created materials to help patients maintain healthy skin.
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Mobility and Physical Activity
People with spina bifida higher on the spine (near the head) might have paralyzed legs and use wheelchairs. Those with spina bifida lower on the spine (near the hips) might have more use of their legs and use crutches, braces, or walkers, or they might be able to walk without these devices.
A physical therapist can work with adolescents and teens to teach them how to exercise their legs to increase strength, flexibility, and movement.
Regular physical activity is important for all teens and adolescents, but especially for those with conditions that affect movement, such as spina bifida. CDC recommends 60 minutes of physical activity a day. There are many ways for teens and adolescents with spina bifida to be active. For example, they can:
- Engage in physical activities with friends.
- Roll or walk in the neighborhood.
- Lift weights.
- Participate in sports activities (for example, swimming) and on teams for people with and those without disabilities.
- Attend summer camps and recreational facilities that are accessible for those with disabilities.
For more information, please visit the following websites:
Sexual Health and Sexuality
Parents and caregivers of adolescents and teens with spina bifida can encourage them to talk with their healthcare professional about sexuality and sexual functioning, contraceptives, and reproductive concerns.
Spina bifida causes nerve damage that can affect sexual functioning. Most people with spina bifida are fertile, and can have children.
Folic acid is very important. All women who can get pregnant should be sure to take 400 micrograms (µg) of folic acid every day, even if they aren’t planning a pregnancy anytime soon. If a woman has enough folic acid in her body before and during pregnancy, it can help prevent major birth defects of the baby’s brain and spine―including spina bifida.
A woman with spina bifida who is planning to get pregnant should talk with her doctor about getting a prescription to take 4,000 µg (4.0 milligrams) of folic acid one month before pregnancy and during early pregnancy.
For more information, please visit the following websites:
Mental Health and Well-Being
Overall mental health and well-being are very important for everyone. Mental health is how people think, feel, and act as they cope with life. To be at their best, people need to feel good about their lives and value themselves.
Teens and adolescents with spina bifida might feel isolated from others, or have low self-esteem. This can cause them to become depressed. There are different ways to treat depression. Exercise can be effective. Counseling or medication also might be needed.
Everyone feels worried, anxious, sad, or stressed sometimes. If these feelings do not go away and they interfere with daily life, adolescents and teens should talk with other people, such as a family member, school counselor, or healthcare professional, about their feelings. Depression and other mental health concerns can be treated.
If you have questions about mental health or where to get mental health services, your doctor or a licensed mental health professional in your community may be able to answer those questions or refer you to someone who can. A nearby health facility or your state mental health agency also may be able to help.
For more information, please visit the following websites:
Safety is important for adolescents and teens with spina bifida. They can be at higher risk for injuries and abuse. As they become more independent, it is important for them to learn how to stay safe and what to do if they feel threatened or have been hurt in any way.
For more information, please visit the following websites:
Being safely mobile in their homes and communities will help adolescents and teens become more independent. To do this, they will need to find and use transportation safely.
Many teens with spina bifida have issues that can affect safe driving. A driver rehabilitation evaluation specialist can identify what these issues are and whether modifications to the car would make it accessible for a teen with spina bifida.
Parents and caregivers can also help teens learn to safely use buses, cabs, and ride-hailing services.
Looking to the Future
Teens with spina bifida and their families should begin planning for life after high school. This includes:
- Looking for doctors that treat adults with spina bifida.
- Deciding if the person affected by spina bifida will live outside of his or her parents’ home.
- Choosing work.
- Exploring college or vocational school opportunities.
- Being volunteers in the community.
- Having healthy relationships.
Planning early can help make the years ahead easier.
Having support and community resources can help increase confidence in managing spina bifida, enhance quality of life, and assist in meeting the needs of all family members. It might be helpful for parents of children with spina bifida to talk with one another. One parent might have learned how to address some of the same concerns another parent has. Often, other parents of children with special needs can give advice about good resources for these children.
Remember that the choices of one family might not be best for another family, so it’s important that parents understand all options and discuss them with their child’s health care providers.
I’ve spent the last two years talking with parents about the unprecedented stress and anxiety plaguing their adolescents — nearly half of whom, according to recent studies of college students, report feeling “overwhelmed by all I had to do.” Our conversations often end with parents expressing a mournful wish: “I just want her to be happy,” they tell me. “But she puts so much pressure on herself.”
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As parents, we say this phrase from a place of good intention. We want to signal to our children that we don’t need or expect them to be perfect, and that we will love them no matter what. Yet the very phrasing of the statement — “on herself” — lays blame for distress at the feet of our teens, rather than a culture that is stoking the flames of their anxiety. It puts the onus for change on kids – just chill, we seem to be saying, and you’ll be okay! – letting the rest of us off the hook, even as we may unwittingly exacerbate their distress.
In fact, we may be making it worse. A new study called “Perfectionism Is Increasing Over Time” finds that young people are more burdened than ever by pressure from others, and that includes parents. Psychologists Thomas Curran and Andrew Hill found that unhealthy perfectionism has surged among young adults, with the biggest increase seen in those who feel pressured by the expectations of others. Perfectionism, the study’s authors say, is a mix of excessively high personal standards (“I have to excel at everything I do”) and intense self-criticism (“I’m a complete failure if I fall short”). In its unhealthiest forms, perfectionism can lead to eating disorders, depression, high blood pressure and thoughts of suicide.
Perfectionism is caused by a variety of factors, not only parents. Young adults have described pressure to appear flawless in every domain, often effortlessly so — in schoolwork, athletics, activities, and looks — since the early 2000s. Social media has raised the bar in the pursuit of teen perfection, introducing a place where the drive to project success, as much as a wish to connect, draws youth like moths to the digital flame. As kids hungrily seek the “likes” of their peers, it is not uncommon for many to delete posts that don’t receive enough “likes.” (The one-like-per-minute ratio is most desirable, according to the many teens I speak with.)
But the parental push to raise an uber-successful child has never been more keenly felt, so much so that researchers have a name for it: “child-contingent self-esteem,” or the tendency for a parent to base their own self-worth on the success of their child. Parents now spend more time than ever on school work with their children, while time spent simply hanging out has declined. Meanwhile, between 1986 and 2006, the number of kids who said their parents surveilled their every move doubled.
In other words, teens are not the only ones guilty of “putting too much pressure” on themselves — the push to fulfill others’ expectations has never been higher, for parents too.
In the recent perfectionism study, published in the journal Psychological Bulletin, the researchers examined how cultural changes over the past three decades have shaped the personalities of 40,000 college students in the United States, Canada and Britain. It revealed a bump in two types of perfectionism: “self-oriented” (in other words, having high expectations of yourself), and “other-oriented,” where people have rigorous standards for others, and treat them with hostility or disdain when they fall short.
But the most dramatic finding, by far, was a 33 percent spike in the kind of perfectionism where teens feel they must be perfect to win approval from others, whether it be friends, social media followers or parents. These teens tend to believe others judge them harshly, and they see their schools and families as unreasonably demanding. Psychologists call this the most debilitating form of perfectionism, because youth are plagued by the feeling they’ve let others down, whether it be by bottoming out on a test score, missing a shot on goal or getting a “no” from a first-choice college. It is associated with major psychopathology like anxiety and depressive symptoms.
The outcome of all of this can be clamming up. Students perform successly online while struggling in silence, quietly fearing everyone is smarter and more competent than they are. When we then tell teens that their wellness is in their own hands, something they might fix if only they relieved themselves of the burden (that “You don’t need to put so much pressure on yourself” statement), it has the opposite effect. We only add to their sense of shame that they have failed to measure up.
Rejection is inevitable, but teens dealing with it for the first time can have trouble coping. Here’s how you can help them.
Rejection comes in many forms during the teen years. Adolescents experience rejections like getting cut from a team, losing the lead role in a play to another actor, or rejection letters from colleges. These rejections can feel huge and life-altering in the moment, but adolescents also experience a wide variety of micro-rejections on any given day. Micro-rejections might include being snubbed by a friend at lunch, a peer saying no to a date, or feeling left out when perusing social media.
No matter the size of the rejection, one truth stays the same: rejection hurts. It feels like the opposite of being accepted, valued, and appreciated. In the minds of teens, rejection feels life-altering. In the case of the dreaded college rejection letter, for example, a teen might feel like the hard work of high school was wasted effort and their goals for the future can no longer be achieved. It is easy for an adult to assess the situation as a minor hindrance, just another part of life to get over and move on from. An adult might view the teen’s extreme reaction to rejection as distorted thinking, but for the teen attempting to cope with rejection, the emotional pain is very real.
While some teens go to great lengths to avoid rejection by way of playing it safe, staying within the boundaries of what they know they can achieve, and steering clear of anything considered a risk, the truth is that rejection can’t be avoided. Rejection is an uncomfortable part of life that all teens need to learn to cope with and work through as they prepare for adulthood.
Coping with rejection involves working through two very important components: What you feel, and what you think. These two things often exist in a cyclical relationship in that your feelings can affect your thoughts, and your thoughts can, in turn, affect your feelings. Ignoring either one (or both) won’t reduce the sting of rejection but separating them and targeting each one will help reduce negative emotional responses to rejection.
The good news is that you can help your child navigate their struggle of coping with rejection. Try these tips to help your teen work through their complex feelings:
While dismissing or downplaying the rejection might feel right to a parent on a mission to protect a teen from emotional pain, it can actually intensify the pain. Rejection feels isolating and lousy, and teens already know this. What they need is empathy, understanding, and someone who will listen. They don’t need to be told that their pain doesn’t really matter, when to them it feels like the only thing that matters.
So here’s what you need to do: name it. Talk about the specifics of the rejection and encourage your teen to label the many feelings overwhelming their mind in response to the rejection. Labeling emotions is the first step toward working through them and moving beyond them. If your teen is unable (or unwilling) to take this step, label what you’re seeing. “Your girlfriend broke up with you and you’re probably feeling rejected, overwhelmed, sad, and even angry. All of these feelings are perfectly normal reactions to this.” Helping your child understand what emotions they are feeling and why, specifically, they are feeling them, will help them cope with all sorts of situation, not just rejection.
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You might be tempted to yell out all of the reasons that your teen should have been accepted to that college from which they received a rejection letter or why your teen’s ex-girlfriend is making a huge mistake by breaking up, but responding in anger will only intensify your teen’s negative emotional response. Teens look to their parents for cues when they’re under stress. It’s essential to remain calm and objective in the face of rejection to show your teen that your love is unconditional and this rejection won’t actually ruin their life. Remember, your teen will pick up on the behavior that you demonstrate. To demonstrate anger at every rejection encourages a sense of entitlement and it will make coping with inevitable rejections all the more difficult.
This is the time to convey empathy and understanding. Admitting that you don’t know exactly how your teen is feeling right this very moment but that you do know what it feels like to face rejection opens the door to conversation. Teens don’t necessarily want step-by-step instructions on ways to recover from a rejection, but they do want to connect and talk through it.
Leaning on past experiences and sharing your painful memories of rejection as a teen can bridge the gap between you and your teen. While your experiences are not exactly the same as your teen’s, you can use them to talk about how you felt, how you responded, and what you did to recover.
Examine the Thought Process
When teens are stuck in a negative thought cycle, they can develop negative core beliefs. This can lead to decreased self-esteem and future risk aversion. In essence, when teens feel like they can’t succeed, they avoid trying.
Explain to your teen that we all have a negative inner critic that drives our thoughts at times. The inner critic isn’t the problem; it’s what we choose to do with those critical thoughts that matter. Share a few thoughts that run through your mind when your inner critic is loud. Talk about how you feel as a result of those thoughts. Finally, share ways you reframe those negative thoughts to refocus on positive thinking.
Helping teens learn to accept their negative emotions, state their negative thoughts, and reframe their thinking gives them the tools to cope with future rejection and other stressful events. When we normalize the process, teens internalize these skills and are better able to use them when rejection occurs.
Rejection is inevitable, even if you, as a parent, try to avoid it for your child. Your child will face rejection, but if you help them by using these tools, and instilling them with their own coping mechanisms, they will be able to move on from rejection.
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Dear Amy: A couple we know, who have a 14-year-old daughter and a 5-year-old son, just welcomed an 18-year-old boy (whom they have known for years), into their home to live.
He has been thrown out of his parents’ home, but I don’t know why.
The 18-year-old has a job and helps them with the bills. He doesn’t have a car.
I see a potential train wreck in the offing.
To allow two unrelated teenagers to live in the same house seems to deliver an open invitation to a real problem, should their hormones become inflamed.
Please offer your advice and feedback, in hopes that they read your column.
Dear Worried: Here’s my feedback: To people who offer shelter to others who need it — thank you. You are heroes.
To neighbors, friends and extended family members who take in teenagers going through a rough patch: Thank you. You are demonstrating true family values.
Your assumption that unrelated teenagers shouldn’t cohabit because of “inflamed hormones” is faulty. Using your logic, my family shouldn’t have welcomed exchange students into our household during my childhood. Teens shouldn’t attend co-ed sleepaway camp, or live alongside other teenagers and young adults for months as counselors. And not to put too fine a point on it, but what about the “inflamed hormones” of both parents with this young man in the house?
Using your logic, surely the family is surrounded by new risks and temptations, and the 18-year-old is also at risk.
There is no question that bringing an unrelated person into the household changes the dynamic of the household and places both children at an elevated risk for sexual contact or abuse. But your automatic assumptions about the risk might be outsized; and, importantly, this is none of your business.
Dear Amy: I am a 38-year-old woman. I want so much to get married and settle down.
I gave up on love almost entirely until two years ago when I met my current boyfriend.
He is supportive, smart and kind. We love each other very much and have a healthy relationship. He is without a doubt the person I want to spend the rest of my life with.
However, there is one barrier that is keeping us from moving forward: his co-dependent relationship with his parents.
About a year ago he moved back in with his parents to help his dad take care of his aging mother. His parents rely on him for everything (financial and business decisions, errands, home maintenance, scheduling appointments).
As a child of immigrant parents (they emigrated from Vietnam in the late ’70s), he feels an obligation to make sure his parents are happy and comfortable in their old age. They gave up so much to make sure he and his siblings would have a good life.
I want to have a family with him, but I don’t know how much longer I can wait. I feel selfish asking him to choose me over them.
Dear Waiting: You need to have a frank and open conversation with your guy about getting married and having a family of your own. Given his commitment to his parents, he might expect you to move into their household — or have them come and live with you two in whatever household you and he create together. You might be able to create an extended household where you live next door to his parents, but rest-assured that his hyper-involvement with his parents will continue. “Everybody Loves Raymond” ran on television for nine seasons on this very premise.
Your use of the term “co-dependent” implies some sort of dysfunction. And maybe there is dysfunction here that you don’t describe. But in many cultures, his behavior is completely normal and expected. He is not dependent on them, but is simply giving back out of a deep sense of respect and duty. His cultural imperative might be stronger than his connection to you, and so you should not expect him to automatically choose you if he is forced to make a choice.
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Dear Amy: “New Mom” was worried about her in-laws staying with her for an extended period when she gives birth to her second child.
She should look into a nearby Airbnb listing. We have one near our house and we now use it as our frequent guest house.
As parents, we often feel as if we must shield our children from the pain of failing and making mistakes–but this within itself is a mistake. Teen mistakes are a critical part of developing into a capable young adult. Learning that mistakes are just a part of life and how to cope with them is an incredibly essential skill for becoming successful in adulthood. In a recent CNN article, Kelly Wallace–a mother of daughters–discusses her struggle with letting her daughters make mistakes and the importance of moving past that struggle.
Are teen mistakes really essential?
The short answer is yes. The long answer is that if we shield our children from making mistakes, they’ll expect to learn everything from us instead of learning how to do things on their own. Mistakes are what allow us to see a better way; they guide us towards thinking critically and moving out of our comfort zone. If you didn’t succeed this time, what can you do differently to succeed next time?
While it may be infinitely easier in the younger years to do everything for your child and fix everything for your child, when they reach adulthood, things get harder. Suddenly, they expect you to continue doing everything and fixing everything, even though they’re adults and should be able to do it themselves.
Erik Fisher, a psychologist, states:
“Teaching our kids … to see the opportunity in what felt like tragedy, that’s when we become better participants in life rather than people who would rather not play the game at all than play the game and lose.”
Natural consequences will help guide your child
It’s our job as parents to help guide our children towards success–but part of that guiding is letting go of the reins. Your child must be able to assess and recognize their own negative and positive behaviors in order to improve–you won’t always be around to point it out for them. The natural consequences of teen mistakes will guide a teen towards how to do better–especially if you’re on the sidelines ready to be tagged in if it really gets hairy.
Jessica Lahey–author of “The Gift of Failure: How the Best Parents Learn to Let Go So Their Children Can Succeed” and writer for the Atlantic, The New York Times and Vermont Public Radio–told Wallace:
“Any time you find yourself jumping in to rescue or take over a task for your kids, stop and ask yourself, ‘Can my kid learn anything from this?’ and if the answer is yes, whether that lesson is in a concrete skill or simply a moment to realize that they are more capable than they thought, restrain yourself. Hold your tongue. Lace your fingers together behind your back, and give your kids the opportunity to find out what they are able to do on their own.”
Teen mistakes are learning opportunities, the parent just needs to remember and promote this idea in order to make them beneficial.
Trails Carolina can help
Trails Carolina is a wilderness therapy program for struggling youth, ages 10-17. Our students commonly deal with issues such as depression, anxiety, ADHD, and other behavioral challenges. We use outdoor learning and wilderness therapy to improve the lives of young people.
For more information about how Trails Carolina can help your child cope with teen mistakes, please call 800-975-7303 today!
Until the age of 18, services for children and young people with long-term health conditions are provided by child health and social care services.
From 18, they’re usually provided by adult services.
Between the ages of 16 and 18, the child will start a “transition” to adult services.
This should involve all the services that support areas like:
- health and social care
- mental health
- financial benefits for the young person and their family
Planning for this transition should begin when a child is in Year 9 at school (13 or 14 years old) at the latest.
Transition should be an ongoing process rather than a single event, and tailored to suit the child’s needs.
When a child or a young carer approaches their 18th birthday, they may ask their local authority for a needs assessment.
A parent or carer may also ask for an assessment as the child they’re caring for approaches 18 because the child’s situation will potentially be changing dramatically, which means the carer’s needs may change, too.
The local authority has a duty to do this assessment.
The assessment should provide advice and information about what can be done to meet or reduce the person’s needs, as well as what they can do to stay well and prevent or delay the development of needs.
Transition assessments could also become part of a young person’s education, health and care plan.
It’ll help you or the young person you care for to plan ahead.
There’s no set age that you have to be assessed. The best time to plan the move to adult services will be different for each person.
What if I can’t get an assessment?
If a local authority denies a request to carry out an assessment, it must explain in writing why it has reached that decision.
The local authority must also still provide information and advice about what you or the person you care for can do to prevent or delay the development of care and support needs.
What will happen to my child’s existing care and support services while they’re being assessed?
A child or young carer receiving children’s services will continue to receive them during the assessment process, either until the adult care and support is in place to take over, or until it’s clear after the assessment that adult care and support doesn’t need to be provided.
Meeting a new team
Transition from child health services to adult health services will mean your child may start seeing a different team at your local hospital or health and social services department.
This can be a scary time for young people as the teams they know and are used to working with change.
It’s important everyone involved understands the process, and feels supported and prepared to try to ensure the transition is as smooth as possible.
There should be a detailed exchange of information between the two teams before this takes place.
Your child shouldn’t be discharged from children’s health services until their care has been transferred to adult health services.
Transitioning to a new mental health team
The age at which children and young people move to another mental health service can differ depending on where you live. For example, some transition at 16, others at 18 or older.
Your Child and Adolescent Mental Health Service (CAMHS) team should work closely with you to support the transition. For example, you could have a joint meeting with your current team and the new adult mental health services.
Transitional planning and education: advice for parents
At age 16, and beyond, young people will often become increasingly independent and may want to exercise more control over the support they receive for their special educational needs and disabilities (SEND).
Colleges, your local authority and others who provide services for young people when they’re over compulsory school age are expected to communicate directly with the young person.
Talk to your son or daughter and agree how best you can be involved, and how much support they’ll need as they get older.
Once you have agreed arrangements that work for you, your son or daughter should let their college know.
If a college can’t meet a young person’s needs because they require specialist help, they (with support from their parents) should consider whether they need an Education, Health and Care (EHC) needs assessment, which might lead to an EHC plan.
EHCs offer families personal budgets so they have more control over the type of support they get.
If you think your son or daughter needs an assessment, you should both discuss this with the college. A request can be made for an EHC plan up until a young person reaches the age of 25.
Benefits for the young person and their family
As a parent carer, you can claim benefits if you care for a child with complex needs until they reach the age of 16.
From the September after your child’s 16th birthday, you’ll only be able to get payments for them as a dependant if they’re in full-time education or on an approved training course.
Once your child reaches 16, they may be able to claim certain benefits in their own right.
This could have an impact on your household income, as certain benefits will reduce if your child is no longer classed as a dependant.
For information on how your benefits might be affected, contact a specialist benefits advisor – for example, from Citizens Advice.
In some cases young people with disabilities won’t be able to manage their own benefit payments and will need an appointee (usually their parent or carer) to help them.
Disability Living Allowance
If you’re a parent or carer of a child with a disability, you can claim Disability Living Allowance (DLA) for your child until they turn 16.
Once a disabled person turns 16 and wants to claim a disability benefit, they’ll need to apply for Personal Independence Payment (PIP).
PIP has replaced DLA for working-age adults (aged 16 to 64) with a disability.
Transitioning from school into work
If your child decides to move into work, they might want advice and guidance.
They can get specialist advice about work and disability through a Disability Employment Adviser at their local Jobcentre Plus office.
This adviser can help with assessments and work plans, and give advice about schemes such as Access to Work and the Work and Health programme.
If a young person is thinking of moving away from home, they might want to consider supported housing.
Supported housing is available for people who are vulnerable or have a disability. It allows people to live independently and still receive the care they need.
The care offered in supported housing can range from on-site support to occasional visits. It can be a few hours a week or up to 24 hours a day, depending on the person’s needs.
Sheltered housing is available for physically disabled people, people with mental health problems, people with learning disabilities and older people.
It’s a good idea to visit the supported housing scheme you’re interested in before applying so you can speak to other residents and make sure your child’s care needs can be met.
To find out more about housing options in your area, speak to your local authority.
Video: supported living
Watch this video about the Meath Trust's round-the-clock care scheme that supports people with epilepsy.