Stress during the teen years
The process of forming an identity involves choosing among many of the norms and expectations of family, authority figures, and peer groups. It also involves expressing your personality in your own unique way. And it may mean making choices that disappoint the expectations of some of your family or friends.
This process can be stressful because it means experiencing rejection and acceptance. Peer pressure is a constant pull between being accepted by friends and being your own person. Dating means the joy of falling in love and the pain of breaking up. Romantic breakups are some of the most stressful events teens and young adults experience. Navigating expectations of parents, teachers, faith leaders, and peers is challenging.
In some cases, the stress of social problems and value conflicts can be severe enough to result in ongoing anxiety, depression, poor school performance, and even thoughts of suicide. This can happen when a young person does not feel safe and supported in expressing who he really is; for example, experiencing severe bullying, rejection from his parents, or racism; or living in poverty, neglect, or a violent environment.
Factors that support a teen’s identity formation and lower teen stress are:
- Secure parental attachment
- High self-esteem
- Positive influence of other adults
- Acceptance in a peer group