Managing Adolescent Behaviour

July 5, 2021

Adolescence is the age of change and a transition phase from childhood to adulthood. It is a vulnerable time when children might develop unhealthy habits that grow into problems in their adult life.  Behavior issues of adolescence, which are quite common, can also crop up during this time, making it next to impossible for parents to reach out to their teenagers.

During their teenage years, young people face a huge number of challenges. Their bodies are changing, and they are going through a period of massive brain and hormonal development.

They are growing up and maturing more, in general. They are trying to figure out who they are and where they fit into the world. They long to establish their identity as a separate person from both their peers and their parents. Society expects a lot from  teenagers. At school they are under pressure to post good grades. It is, therefore, not surprising when they act out and get into discipline issues. Their behavior is often characterized by mood swings and emotional ups and downs during the teen years. When all the above is coupled with being in a boarding school, the situation gets more complicated.

Today’s discussion was on handling adolescence and maintaining good hygiene. It was very interesting to hear the views from the Form One students in the mentorship program. These girls are at a stage when they are experiencing changes in their bodies that they are uncomfortable discussing with their parents. Development of full breasts in girls can be awkward in the beginning. They also start to get conscious about their figure.  Most of these girls have acne, and they have tried all manner of creams and herbs to get rid of the pimples, many without success. Many said they have noticed that they are gaining weight at an alarming rate despite the school diet being poor.

Sweat glands in the armpits and groin area are activated for the first-time during puberty, and this can lead to increased body odor. The need to wash daily and wash clothes regularly is therefore encouraged. The genital area is very sensitive because it is covered and needs to be washed well. Unlike in the past, there is a lot of body shamming by the students. This act of mocking a person’s physical appearance has a great effect on most of the girls. Being in secondary school for the first time, the students said they experienced a lot of body shaming from the girls in the upper classes. Those that are deemed to have a good figure were quickly befriended by the popular girls in the school, while those that were not deemed as curvaceous were ignored. This created tension among the girls. The not so popular girls feared bathing in the presence of the popular girls; they did not want to be ridiculed any further. They also made sure to hang their innerwear where no one could see it as they did not want anyone laughing at them.

We encourage these students to face the changes and challenges they will encounter positively. It is normal for the body to change and every teenager goes through it. Adapting to these changes and accepting that it is a way of life will make most situations manageable. It is okay for them to feel the way they do; it is a phase, and it will pass, but we encourage positive behaviour.  Talking about their fears and expectations is encouraged, the girls should not be judged. Sharing our personal experiences with them puts them more at ease, it helps them realize that what they feel is normal. We encourage them to engage in extracurricular activities that channel their energy in positive ways to help them sleep better and remain fit.

Students at Shiners School entertaining with a dance.

Enjoying the outdoors at AIC Ngong. The fresh air and snacks help the girls release tension associated with boarding school and dealing with adolescent challenges.

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