On the outside, most young people seem happy-go-lucky, but inside each adolescent is a complex network of potentially explosive pressures. Adolescents with a strong parental and social support system are the least likely to experience the painful effects of the pressures they face. Becoming aware of the typical sources of pressure kids face prepares parents to provide encouragement and support to their kids. Here are five common pressures adolescents face:
1. The Pressure to be Perfect. During my years as a youth pastor, kids repeatedly told me that their parents wanted them to be perfect, particularly in in the areas of behavior and school. No kid is perfect and when they fall short of their parents’ expectations, they feel more pressure.
2. The Pressure to Succeed. The pressure to succeed elicits the attitude in our kids that life is a perpetual performance. To fail is to feel stupid. When kids fail, they fear that others will reject them.
3. The Pressure to Conform. Kids find it extremely uncomfortable to be different from their peers; so, they work hard to fit in and be accepted by one of the subcultures on their school campus.
4. The Pressure from Body Changes. Since consistent change is part of the developing adolescent body, teenagers are in a continual state of stress over what’s happening or what’s not happening. Each teen is unique and experiences the changes in their bodies in fits and starts and stops and spurts among other times when nothing seems to change at all!
5. The Pressure from Emotions. Adolescence is a time of emotional development. For many teens, the strength and frequency of their emotions is much like having new emotions altogether. They aren’t sure where the emotions have come from, and they are equally unsure what to do with them.
Pressure is simply going to be part of the adolescent experience. Learning to process pressure and stress is actually an important part of preparing kids to face the pressures and stresses of adulthood. Rather than trying to eradicate all pressure, the wise course for parents is to help kids manage and moderate the pressures they face so that they do not become overwhelmed as they journey toward adulthood.