Newspaper article Manchester Evening News

Tackling the Teens

Newspaper article Manchester Evening News

Tackling the Teens

Article excerpt

THE standard view of a teenager is often grumpy and unhappy with a low opinion of themselves and a lack of confidence. But new research suggests that while the grumpiness may be unavoidable, the majority of teens feel good about themselves.

A study of 1,000 11-17-year-olds found that 72% feel positive about themselves, with seven out of 10 considering themselves healthy because they think they're a healthy weight (71%), eat a balanced diet (70%) and don't smoke (73%).

In addition, British teenagers are proud of who they are as a person, valuing their friendliness (55%), kindness and trustworthiness (49%) and honesty (46%).

Clinical psychologist Professor Tanya Byron, who has presented TV shows on parenting and behaviour, as well as leading an independent review into the effects of the internet and video games on children, says: "Despite the prevailing public perception that teenagers today are an unhappy generation, most teens manage to hold on to a positive view of themselves, despite the challenges of the adolescent years."

However, the Boots study also showed the majority of teens want to have more confidence, and advice on how to get it - although girls are more likely to ask for advice than boys. Whereas nearly half of boys (49%) say they don't need advice about anything when it comes to being a teenager, girls want advice on building confidence (21%), how to get in shape (17%), and how to get healthy skin (17%).

"We need to empower our teens to develop the critical thinking skills needed to develop confidence and self-belief built around values and ideologies, rather than external factors such as looks and body shape," stresses Prof Byron.

Indeed, the research found that 41% of teenage girls worry about what their friends say about them behind their back, and only 19% of teens would describe their social media profile as a true reflection of who they are and how they feel. "Despite showing a positive sense of self and high levels of self-awareness about health and wellbeing, unsurprisingly, when we look at threats to feeling good, issues relating to confidence and self-image come out very strongly," says Prof Byron.

She explains that the emotions and behaviour of teenagers are underpinned by significant physical, brain and social changes triggered by puberty.

Pointing out that new research shows the greatest changes to the parts of the brain responsible for functions such as self-control, judgement, emotions, and organisation, occur between puberty and adulthood - the teenage years - she says: "This explains some teenage behaviours that adults can find confusing and frustrating, such as poor decision-making, recklessness and mood swings. …

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