A teen’s social health is an important component of development. When social problems inhibit a teen’s ability to adjust to changes caused by stress, his environment and his relationships, it’s important to understand the factors that influence social health.
Teen social health is directly influenced by relationships with family members, especially parents. According to a study by the American Medical Association, as reported by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services on HealthyPeople.gov, teenagers who bond with adults and have strong communication with loved ones are less likely to engage in risky behaviors. Strong communication from parents includes discussing expectations, rules and supervision of activities a teen is involved in. To achieve a healthy social health, teens must feel safe in family environments.
Teens thrive on personal achievements and academic success, thus leading to social health that is optimal. In fact, according to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, achievement in academic subjects is a strong predictor of healthy outcomes during your teen’s adult life. The school environment can also contribute to your teen’s ability to handle and cope with social challenges. Engagement in school activities and active participation in classes may help reduce the risk of dropping out and association with risky behaviors, such as drugs, violence and crime.
Your teen’s neighborhood and circle of friends heavily influence his social health. Provide opportunities for involvement with peers who have similar interests and promote healthy activities that stimulate the mind and body to improve and enhance his social interactions with others. Peers and even neighbors who engage in negative and illegal activities can cause your teen to make choices that will affect his overall health. According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services HealthyPeople.gov website, teens who are raised in distressed neighborhoods that are often characterized by poverty are more at risk for negative outcomes when it comes to social, mental and physical health.
It is next to impossible to protect your teen from media coverage in a society where technology reigns; however, it is important to understand that the media does influence your teen’s social health. Overexposure to advertising, television shows and movies that subscribe to a glamorized view of sexuality, drug use and violence may lead your teen to believe that these activities are the norm. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services reports on HealthyPeople.gov that teens who are exposed to alcohol use, violence, sexual content and smoking through the media are more at risk to adopt these behaviors. Discuss the risks with your teen and decipher between fiction and fantasy when it comes to the media’s portrayal of teen social health.
Beyond the risk for behavioral problems, when influenced by negative environments, peers and adult role models, teens also suffer with self-esteem. To make the transition to adulthood, teens need positive self-esteem and a healthy self-image, according to the Cleveland Clinic. It’s important for parents to be generous with praise and provide teens with words of encouragement on a regular basis. Teens have many influences that throw challenges their way each day. Allow your teen to make mistakes, but be supportive and open so that you can guide her in the right direction and boost her self esteem when she needs your support the most.