The Top Three Challenges Teen Girls Face and How to Help 

by | Oct 31, 2022 | Teenagers | 0 comments

Some people might look at an average teenager and wonder, “What do they have to worry about?”  Although it may seem that teens have few “real problems,” the reality is very different.  Through my coaching conversations with teens and young adults, I’ve heard all about the various challenges they face and how frustrating it is when parents/adults dismiss their concerns as “teen stuff.” My teen and young adult clients have described being overwhelmed with anxiety and depressed by the many challenges in their lives. It is important for parents to understand the most common challenges teen girls and young women face so they can offer appropriate support.  


While individual experiences vary, there are three main areas where almost all teens and young adults experience challenges. 


  • Academics.

High school and college students feel relentless pressure to exceed expectations.  Some of this pressure is imposed by parents but more often than not, the pressure to succeed is internal.  Girls are highly self-critical and put pressure on themselves to be their best.  In high school, the pressure relates to getting into a top college. They work tirelessly to prepare for exams, write essays, and earn a high GPA. Often this leads to burnout. In college, the pressure is to land a successful internship and dream job.  If they don’t receive desirable offers, they have a tendency to feel unworthy.  


  • Self and body image.


It’s no secret that social media dictates what is cool, beautiful, and sexy.  Girls are bombarded with images that perpetuate a very specific, and often unrealistic, ideal.  This triggers constant worry about appearance and effort to look and act like the images they see.  In addition, girls frequently compare themselves to each other and many are hypercritical of their appearance.  They don’t have the tools to tame the voice of their inner critic.  The result?  Low self-esteem and self-worth, feelings of depression, or at worst, self-harm and eating disorders.


  • Friends.


Friendships can create numerous worries for girls.  The most common ones that I hear about are making friends, being betrayed by friends, fitting in, being accepted, and standing up for themselves.  While friendships are an important source of connection, they can also be complicated.  Girls are often consumed with fear and worry about what others think and usually tell themselves the worst.  They can feel confused by constant comparison and competition or isolated by social ranking. Peer relationships that begin with validation and joy can turn into a web that can be difficult to navigate.  


While you can’t make these problems go away, you can equip your daughter to handle them in a way that builds perspective, resilience, and wisdom. Here are eight practices that help. 


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  • Build your daughter’s self-esteem and confidence by acknowledging her inner qualities.

Focus more on who she is, rather than what she achieves or accomplishes.


  • Teach her strategies for dealing with stress and anxiety. This is a simple technique I teach my coaching clients : 


    • Acknowledge how you feel
    • Normalize and accept the feeling 
    • Ask yourself, what do I need? 
    • Identify an action you can take and support you might need
    • Ask for support and take action 


  • Provide a variety of strategies and tools for time management, organization, and study skills. 

A few of my favorites include time blocking, setting up an effective study space, and finding an engaging app for organizing assignments and creating to-do lists.  If you have trouble getting through to your teen, you may need to ask a  teacher or life coach to talk with your daughter about these practices. 


  • Talk about stress-busters.

These are activities and practices that reduce stress and increase a sense of peace and calm. My favorites are yoga, walking outside, taking a bath, and talking with a friend. Many of the teens I coach love listening to music, going outside, and baking. 


  • Be aware of overscheduling your teen and putting pressure on her to succeed. 

Be mindful of how you talk with her about college, grades, and life success.  She may not speak up and share her hopes or opinions, for fear of disappointing you, so pay attention to her body language and non-verbal reactions.


  • Promote resilience by giving your teen choices, allowing her to participate in family decisions, and encouraging healthy risk-taking. 

Talk about how failure is an opportunity to learn and grow.  


  • Broaden her support system.

Your teen needs people outside the family who she can turn to when she doesn’t want to talk with you.  Friends are not always reliable sources of information or advice, so ensure your daughter has trusted adults in her circle of support.

  • Keep lines of communication open by listening more than you talk.

Always calibrate with your teen, and learn what she is going through and the challenges she faces.  Be open to approaching her in a different way, especially during the teen years.


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