Teenagehood looks different for every child; you probably experienced it yourself while you were growing up. Some of your friends would have started hitting puberty before leaving middle school, while others might not have started developing until the end of high school. Puberty, in fact, is a part of identity formation where girls transition into youngsters. So, what is the most difficult age for a girl?
Because of how different puberty and teenage hormones can be depending on the child, it can be hard to narrow down which age is the worst for teenage girls. But it does tend to be the first few years of puberty, typically experienced at age 14. At this stage, parents must accompany their daughters as they may have shifts mentally and explore sexuality. And oftentimes, it is the hardest period your daughter will experience, and you will face frequent turbulence of parent-child conflicts.
Today, we are going to look at how that might be the case.
Emotions Are Heightened
Teenagers, particularly teenage girls, have a reputation for being stroppy, emotional, and suffering from mood swings.
The evidence shows that (NIH, 2007) not only do teenage girls experience their emotions more intensely, but they also are less able to separate their emotions from their thinking than we adults are.
A good example of this is the stress of having an argument with a good friend. Not only is the heartbreak more intense for the teenager, but they are less able to rationalize why that argument may have happened.
Because of the intensity of their emotions, they cannot always see reason.
How to handle emotional issues in teenagers?
As parents who have teenagers, it’s sometimes overwhelming dealing with their waves of emotions. Their moods shift quickly, and you’ve no time to respond to what they feel. But that’s actually normal, though! Try to picture yourself as your daughter and how you handled emotions when you were a teenager.
You didn’t know how to pour your heart as you had no idea about the cause. But as a mom or dad, you can deal with this emotional regulation issue gently by offering emotional support, such as:
- Be present. Accompany your kid when she needs you the most.
- Remain calm and validate her emotions. Sometimes, we forget that our daughters require time to process everything, especially the changes in their emotions. You can help by saying, “It’s okay!” and remaining calm while listening whenever she shares her stories.
- Respect their perspectives. You may have frequent and intense arguments with your daughter when it comes to puberty. All you need to do is listen and cherish their different views. By doing so, your child will feel that her mother values her with equal understanding and opinion as you.
- Give her privacy. Just like us, teenagers also value privacy. So, don’t you dare check on her phone or enter her space without knocking!
Punishment Doesn’t Work
If you include punishment in your parenting, you must read this section carefully. A study found that teenagers also respond incredibly badly to punishment-based discipline systems.
The part of the brain that is responsible for conceiving long-term consequences doesn’t work as well. Therefore, because punishments were only temporary, they didn’t respond well to them.
The study showed, however, that teenagers excelled when the discipline system was based on rewards. This is an approach that should be taken at school to avoid academic stress as well as at home. Preferably working in tandem if there are issues.
You may find agreeing on a system with their teachers at school yields great results for everyone involved.
Hormones Affect Skin
Most teenagers are concerned about their image, especially when they are spending all day at school around people they may have a crush on or bullies.
Sadly, the hormone changes caused by puberty can make young women sensitive about their appearance.
As well as experiencing their hips and breasts changing shape (sometimes painfully), hormones can also cause them to put on weight unexpectedly, and many young people develop hormonal acne.
This can appear in many different areas of the body, not just the face.
These changes can make young women feel bad about themselves and their appearance.
Tips for dealing with teenage acne!
Acne, blemishes, and other skin conditions will commonly appear when your daughter starts her puberty. For that reason, we can confidently answer the question, “what is the most difficult age for a girl” with PUBERTY! Generally, it will begin at 9 to 14 years old. However, a study mentioned that this phase highly depends on genetics, nutritional and environmental aspects, and endocrine levels. But don’t worry; you can help your daughter cope with acne with the following tips:
- Take the issue seriously. Never say that acne is okay, especially if it grows excessively. Your daughter may experience bullying in schools due to high social pressures about beauty standards, causing low self-esteem. As a mom, you can help them find the best treatment or product that can solve their skin problem.
- Shift her diet. Aside from hormonal changes, diet is one of the leading causes of acne. You can recommend your daughter cut dairy, junk foods, and oily, deep-fried meals to boost her healing.
- Be a constant alarm for her. It’s normal if she’s not used to applying acne treatment as she has never dealt with such an issue before. And here is your job to keep her treatment on track. Also, remind her to enjoy the process and not rush.
Their Bodies Are Changing, And Periods Begin
When you are not going through it yourself, it is hard to remember how much the body changes when you are going through puberty.
The changes that puberty causes are a lot more intense for young girls. Their breasts start to develop, their hips start to widen, and their whole reproductive system starts to work differently.
On top of all of this, they start getting their periods for the first time. Many find this embarrassing, and the learning curve is quite steep and not taught in school. But periods are incredibly painful.
Most women experience cramps, nausea, diarrhea, headaches, and exhaustion from their first period to their last.
What should I do if my daughter has her first period?
Don’t panic and be overdramatic! You had been through the same journey, hadn’t you? Instead, explain to her that the menstrual cycle is normal and most women experience it in their developmental stages. Then, assist your daughter by giving her menstrual pads or tampons. But if she’s not familiar with tampons, pads will be better. We also recommend preparing hypoallergic wipes to clean her private area and zipper bags to dispose of the used pads.
In case she has cramps, you can offer a warm heating pad to put on her belly. Alternatively, ibuprofen will help reduce the pain. However, you must be aware of the excruciating pain as it may be a sign of a health issue. Consult with a specialist if she experiences such an issue.
They Feel Embarrassment More
Do you feel like everything you do embarrasses your teens?
Well, it turns out that is probably true, but it’s not your fault. Instead, this is happening because the teenage brain is more sensitive and vulnerable to embarrassment.
A study (Harvard, 2013) showed that the part of the brain responsible for self-reflection and embarrassment – the medial prefrontal cortex – is far more active in teenagers than it is in any other age group.
It is so active that the study noticed teens were far more likely to sweat when they were the center of attention.
Peer Pressure In School
You may find yourself wondering why your teenagers do stupid things just because their friends do them. Well, it turns out there is a chemical explanation for these peer relationships.
Teenage girls are more vulnerable to risk-taking behavior when in group settings
Studies have repeatedly shown that when in a group, teens are twice as likely to take risks and very unlikely to think about the consequences their actions will have on themselves, their friends, and themselves.
Studies done on mice show that when pushed to by the group, “teenagers” were more likely to binge drink alcohol. Who comes up with these experiments?
Unfortunately, this risk-taking behavior makes them prone to bullying if they are failed to meet the group’s what-so-called standards. For example, if she plays truth or dare and her friends ask her to smoke. But, she doesn’t manage to do it because she has asthma, and it will make her ostracized by her circle. Of course, it can trigger low self-esteem if the problem persists. She may feel unworthy to fit in society, causing social anxiety and depression.
What is the relationship between bullying and depression?
Depression is a serious mental health issue that influences your way of thinking, perspectives, and behaviors. A survey conducted by the U.S. National Survey on Drug Use and Health in 2020 reported that there was a rising trend of depression, around 17%, in teenagers aged 12 years old and above. It is very concerning since most of them didn’t seek treatment as they feel embarrassed or think that they are okay. Besides, parents who aren’t aware of the behavioral changes of these kids may also be the reason for this climbing rate.
In addition, teenagers often think that they have high independence and thus can cope with any problem, including bullying. Research confirmed the relationship between bullying and depression, mentioning that bullying causes lower self-esteem and emotional dysregulation. The U.S. Department of Education reported the rate of bullying in the country was at 28% in 2015. That’s extremely concerning since this bullying commonly happens at schools where parents can’t keep their eyes on watching the kids.
If your children experience sudden changes in their behavior (incl. eating, sleeping, and mood shift), withdrawing themselves from society and their peers, and keeping their bedroom door locked, you must ask for professional advice. You can also ask your kids to meet a therapist to talk about what they feel.
For U.S. citizens, there’s a government website launched by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services called stopbullying.gov. Search for the menu, and find Get Help Now if you want to contact a certified therapist. There are also Spanish speakers if you only speak the language.
Creativity Is High, But Long-Term Reasoning Is Not
Teenagers have the most amazing brains, at the age of 14, this is the perfect time for them to be learning new skills.
There is no better time for teenage girls to embrace their passions and deepen their knowledge on those topics. This is something you should try to encourage.
Why learning is super easy for teenage girls, adding a wider context to the knowledge they are learning or grasping the reasoning behind why they should be learning can be difficult.
If they can’t see an instant or direct benefit of learning a topic, then they may be reluctant to learn.
Finally, let’s talk about how social media is affecting teenage girls.
Being a teenager was bad enough before social media was invented. Studies done by both META and independent bodies have shown that social media is destroying the mental health of our young people.
They are becoming less and less able to tell the difference between someone’s real life and the life they show on social media. This leads to many young people feeling like they aren’t good enough, interesting enough, or pretty enough (leading to body image issues). There is also a communication breakdown as they prefer to stay online rather than talk to their parents and friends face-to-face.
While there is little that parents can do to stop their kids from using social media, it is worth talking to your teens about the dangers and its ability to distort reality.
Many teenage girls have a hard time throughout their teenage years, but for many, the worst year can be 14.
This is when the troubles of growing up meet the troubles of changes inside their body and combine to make life much more difficult. As parents, you need to understand that it is also challenging for them. So, all you can do is listen and talk to them about what they feel and what you can do to help. Being present for them is also the key to making them comfortable sharing with you.
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