If you have ever stared in amazement at your teenager or grandchild wondering what in the world they are so upset about, you are not alone. Sometimes their behavior is odd or even strange. Other times it is simply crazy. Today I want to discuss the common concerns that most children between the ages of 12 and 18 go through. This list is by no means exclusive and your child, or grandchild, may face any combination of these issues.

Problems with friends

Friendships provide opportunities for your teen to develop relationships with teens of the same or opposite sex. Having friends helps teens:

Feel good about who they are.
Feel socially involved with peers.
Have a positive outlook on life.
Have more success in future relationships as adults.

Friendships can also have negative effects on teens if their friends enjoy causing trouble. If your teen is part of a group that often gets into trouble, ask why he or she wants to be a part of this group. Your teen may be trying to distance himself or herself from family problems or may be rebelling against the family. Perhaps the problem will be temporary, but if serious problem behaviors (such as lying, stealing, or sneaking out of the house) occur, do not take the situation lightly.

Dieting

Most teens do not have serious eating disorders, but eating problems are common. Dieting can become a way of life for some teens, especially teenage girls. All teenagers worry about how they look, whether they are liked by their peers, and whether they are OK. It is normal to worry. However, worrying has the potential for getting out of control.

American girls feel pressure to be thin, and unfortunately, they are selecting diets that may be hazardous to their health as their bodies go through puberty. Because of this pressure, many girls begin dieting to lose weight even when it may be unhealthy and their weight is within a normal range.

Physical appearance is extremely important during the teen years. Overweight teens may have lower self-esteem than their average-weight peers. About 16% to 22% of all teenagers are overweight or obese. The number of teens who are overweight has been rising over the last several years.
People who are overweight as teens are at greater risk for being overweight as adults. They are then at risk for several health problems, such as high blood pressure and diabetes.

Acne

Acne is a common skin condition during the teen years. Eighty-five percent of teenagers develop acne. It usually develops on the face, upper chest, back, and shoulders. Severe acne can affect a teenager's self-esteem. Having acne can affect social relationships, school performance, and the teen's ability to get a job.

Many people believe that acne is caused by the foods they eat. This is not true. The real cause of acne is an increase of an oily substance (sebum) from the skin cells, which causes whiteheads, blackheads, and pimples. It is a natural response to hormones that are produced during puberty.

For many teens, nothing is more frustrating than acne. Most cases of acne are mild. However, for some teens, even one pimple is emotionally upsetting. Most teens are very self-conscious about pimples, and parents need to take the teen's concerns seriously.

Substance abuse

Teenage substance abuse greatly increased in the 1960s and 1970s. Although teenage drug use decreased for many years, it has been increasing again. Use of cigarettes, alcohol, marijuana, and cocaine has increased among high school students.

About 3 million people under the age of 18 smoke cigarettes. In one large study, about 10% of 12th graders reported that they had used smokeless tobacco over the previous 30 days.

Since 1992, marijuana use has increased from about 12% to about 24% of all 12th graders.

Recently, cocaine use has increased in all grade levels.

Binge drinking has increased from about 28% in 1993 to 31% in 1997.

Drugs commonly used during the teen years

The following are drugs commonly used during the teenage years. Teens who use these substances may later begin using other drugs, such as cocaine, methamphetamine (speed), or other illegal drugs.

Smokeless (chewing) tobacco
Cigarettes
Alcohol
Marijuana

Stages of teenage substance use

Teens may be using drugs or alcohol to block out emotional problems or to escape from the stresses of life related to family, school, friends, or work. Drugs and alcohol do not solve problems or improve relationships. If drug abuse continues, a teen may become so focused on drugs and/or alcohol that the teen does not worry about or pay attention to anything else is his or her life.

Researchers have identified 3 stages of teenage substance abuse. The stages can develop slowly or rapidly. Each stage causes greater and more long-term effects on the teen's life.

Trying drugs and/or alcohol
Becoming dependent on drugs and/or alcohol
Being addicted to drugs and/or alcohol

You may also be concerned that your teen is selling drugs.

The best course of action to prevent drug and alcohol abuse in your teen is to become involved in your child's life before a drug problem develops.

Suicide

Teen suicide is a serious problem.

The suicide rate for teens (15 to 19 years of age) in the United States nearly doubled (from 5.9 to 11.1 per 100,000 teens) between 1970 and 1990.

In 1995, 24% of 9th through 12th grade students reported that they had seriously considered suicide during the previous year.

In 1995, 9% of 9th through 12th grade students reported that they had attempted suicide during the previous year.

Some teens may consider suicide as a result of drug or alcohol problems or for some other reason. Take suicide hints seriously. Your teen's life is at stake.

Violence

We are living in what appears to be an increasingly violent world. Teens are more likely than anyone else to be a victim of violence. Violent crimes include assault, rape, and robbery. It is commonly thought that violent crimes are not planned and the victims are innocent bystanders. This is not true. Most violent crimes occur between friends or acquaintances or within families.

In 1994 the rate of teens (12 to 17 years of age) who were victims of violent crimes was 118 per 1,000.
Teens (10 through 17 years old) arrested for violent crimes (murder, assault, rape, or robbery) increased between 1980 and 1996 from 334 to 465 per 100,000.

Guns are involved in most successful teen murders (homicides). Death from firearm homicide is the most rapidly increasing cause of death for teens between the ages of 15 and 19. Teens often carry guns to help them feel secure. However, having a gun often turns simple fistfights or assaults into murders.
Teens are vulnerable to involvement in violence because of their close identification with peers, their sense that “bad things will not happen to them,” and their tendency to be impulsive and take risks. Teens, especially young teens, think concretely and cannot appreciate long-range consequences. Other factors may also contribute to a teen's involvement in violence, including early childhood exposure to violence, media violence, alcohol and drug use, racism, and poverty.

Parents are searching for ways to keep their children safe. You can help decrease the likelihood that your teen will be involved in violent crimes by showing your child how to deal with conflict without resorting to violence. You can also decrease your child's exposure to violence. Exposure to violence as a young child has a strong influence on violence during the teen years. Restrict your young child's exposure to violence on TV shows and movies.

When teens are either victims of or exposed to violence, it significantly affects them. All teens who have been affected by violence should be evaluated for their need for counseling as soon as possible after the event. Through counseling, the teen can deal with his or her feelings and cope with the trauma.

Author's Bio: 

Denny Strecker has been showing parents how to teach the "Life Skills" that society expects but that no ones them for over 15 years. These skills include self-confidence, self-discipline, time management, leadership and listening skills.