Mentally, eleven is the new fifteen

Many kids today rush through their childhood. More and more tweens and elementary students are presenting teenager behaviors.

Ninth and tenth grade used to be the primary grade where you would start seeing risky teenage behaviors, but now even that stigma has changed.

As a result, this is increasing the threat of emotional and mental issues, stress, and frustration between the child, their peers, and their family members.  Kids experience early or premature exposure to activities, objects, habits, and ways of life meant for and more acceptable to adults.

When these things are advertised everywhere in TV, movies, music and especially by their “role models”, it persuades these children to start acting and making decisions exactly like the figures they see in movies or television. We all know kids’ susceptibility to influence is at an extreme high in this day and age. Therefore, when one person begins to do it, they want to do it. It’s all about fitting in.

Children from 8-12 years old (the tween stage) are especially trying to act like teenagers. Their older brothers and sisters can easily become influenced or educated about sex, drugs, parties, drinking etc.

Once one kid adapts to the environment their older siblings or peers are a part of, they believe that certain things are acceptable solely because the people around them are participating in those specific activities.

A recent struggle for parents of kids younger than eight has been finding clothes that are appropriate. As stated in an article called “Whatever Happened to Childhood?” by Rebecca Sweat, these clothes are described as “shrunk teenage clothes and styles to fit little girls”. Our society is oddly supporting this, maybe unknowingly, through advertising, music, movies and so much more.

William Doherty pointed out how there is a tremendous pressure for kids in this day and age to become ‘sexually precocious’. This can lead to drug use and other adult activities at an early age. Over time parents have found out about their tweens and teens getting into these activities, and some will attempt to crack down on their child. However, at this point in time, these children already rebel, have a certain confidence, feel entitled, and believe they can do what they want. Many parents start getting concerned and become “helicopter parents”. This has the potential to make matters worse. When kids are told not to do something, sometimes it makes them want to do it even more.

Parents may automatically think, ‘My kid is doing something wrong, I taught them better than this and it’s my job to raise them. I need to fix this because of my responsibility as a parent.’

Nevertheless, from a teenager’s point of view, beating down on your kid, constantly bringing up the bad, and giving them a ton of punishments and ultimatums doesn’t help, and teenagers can become stressed and emotionally overwhelmed when parents continue these habits. This can cause unnecessary stress and anger in certain aspects of their life.

As a teenager, I see how it’s difficult. But sometimes just telling kids what the possible consequences could be or examples of outcomes from what happened when someone else made the same decision as them, is enough to change an adolescent’s point of view. Sometimes kids have to experience something unsatisfactory to truly change for the better.

We only get one childhood. Play with friends. Let the biggest worry be what to have for lunch tomorrow. We can only experience that once before you have to grow up and be an adult.

Kids need to slow down, take a step back, a deep breath and just simply enjoy being a kid.

**Source for “Teen Peer Pressure by the Numbers” is provided at the bottom of the image.**

Written By Kyndal Miethke, Contributing Opinion Writer

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