Teenage girls don’t do well. Young psychiatrist Tara Porter, 52, who has seen thousands in her doctor’s office, says their plate is full. Girls need to get good grades, be slim and popular with a smartphone on hand that never goes out of style. What do you do as a parent?
The mental health of girls in the Netherlands has deteriorated significantly, according to research by the Trimbos Institute this month. In 2017, 28 percent of girls aged 13-16 said they had many emotional problems, and in 2021 this will be 43 percent. British child psychologist Tara Porter says they are in need. Their lives, as in the past, still largely revolve around school, appearance, family and friends, Porter says. But the world has changed. We used to do drama with boys and girlfriends, and we also had to perform, as we saw enviable bodies. But we didn’t see any photoshopped bodies, no porn, no influencers, and most importantly, when we got home, all communication stopped; And also those who bully and call girlfriends and nice boys. We were able to rest and recharge.”
It has changed the world, and the freedom and choice that young girls have is a blessing, and they also bring enormous challenges, according to Porter. “More choices lead to complexity and complexity often leads to psychological fear.” I wrote ‘You just don’t understand mea survival guide for teenage girls – thus also sending a message to parents.
1. Your daughter is not the prestige of your project
Today’s teenage girls were born after the year 2000. Around the same millennium time, as Porter knows, parents started seeing their child as a project. There were black and white books for children to stimulate the brain, and Mozart played on pregnant bellies. Porter says that parents give their children more and expect more from them. “Some parents see their daughter’s success as evidence of how well they are doing, but being so close to your child makes it difficult for her to build a character.” Take a step back as a parent, says Porter, and let your daughter find her own path.
Many teens have a distorted idea of sex and a distorted view of the body due to porn and social media: avoid porn
2. School performance. As a parent, you are not entitled to high grades
Girls do well in school – better than boys. “But at what cost? Many of them are anxious, unhappy, stressed, and perfectionists. When I talk to parents, they always say that it doesn’t matter as long as their child is happy. But at the same time they expect high grades and it is constantly about success, homework support, learning flaws and how to achieve Make the most of the money. Hardly anyone would openly consider a career as a road worker or cleaner, but we would prefer not to do it for the sake of our child, in whom we have invested so much.”
“School is so much more than just high scores. If that pressure becomes too great, there is a good chance it will just go away. They are looking for something else that will boost their self-esteem. Appearances, their sexuality and crime for example.” Porter says parents have stopped telling your child that his or her entire future depends on the period of high school. How do you create the perfect anxiety disorder? Pressure, towering competition, constantly saying “your whole future depends on it” and sticking with that for years. “
You as a parent don’t decide who to hang out with, but you can set boundaries
3. Relationships and gender: Your parenting style determines how they enter into relationships
How to get your daughter into romantic relationships: I learned that from you. Are you a controlling parent who has established a strong parent-child bond? Your child will also look for this intense attachment in relationships; Or if this love is too stifling at home, your child will not want others to approach him. If you approach your child with a little warmth, it will be difficult for your daughter to give that to someone else. “I realize you created your child’s elbow diagram.”
Porter says firmly avoid porn. “Porn kills your pleasure in discovering new things, and leads to extreme misogynistic ideas about what’s sexy. Girls should have a chance to discover what they really like without those vulgar images in your head. Once they’re in your head, you can hardly get them out.”
4. Depression and self-harm: help them deal with strong emotions
The girls at Porter’s doctor’s office suffer from self-loathing, stress, anxiety and depression – and they can barely control those feelings. “Self-harm has become almost normal. I hear girls talk about hurting themselves the way we used to talk about smoking.” Research among British and American girls shows that 20 to 30 percent of them self-harm. There are no figures for Dutch teenagers in this regard. Anyway, it’s a negative coping strategy, according to Porter. Just like excessive control of food intake, smoking, and alcohol or drug abuse. The trick is to move into a positive coping strategy. I know it’s not that easy, but activity helps. Get out, exercise, take action.”
5. Girlfriends: You can show the sweetheart who works non-stop and self-harms the door
Girlfriends: It occupies a huge part of your daughter’s mindset. If girls are socially anxious, and chances are your daughter, Porter says, then girlfriends are a mirror. They mainly think about how friends see them. Friendships at this age are often about social power, not admiration for each other.
The mean girls, the sweetheart who is your best friend one day and then ‘breaks up’ again, the girlfriend who sucks you into unhealthy behavior: You as a parent don’t decide who to hang out with, but you can set boundaries. Mental health problems can be contagious. If your daughter is in a group where they are comparing their self-inflicted wounds or starving themselves, there is a good chance they will fit in.”
You Just Don’t Understand Me by Tara Porter, published September 2022 by Balans Publishing, €22.99.
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