“Galit sa Mundo”: Why Teens Appear To Have So Much Angst

We always wonder what our teens are so angsty about. It’s as if they’re angry at the world and life itself.

There’s always that sudden shift in our children. As little kids, they wore bright colors and statement t-shirts, and always had a big smile. But the moment they become teens, they start wearing more black and plug their ears with earphones. Plus, they tend to say things like, “Everybody’s stupid”, and many other expressions. It’s strange because we wonder where all our teens’ angst is coming from. Or, the famous question, “Bakit sila galit sa mundo?”

What looks like teenage angst and rage may not be it

Adolescence is supposedly the middle stage between childhood and adulthood. Thus, there are going to be a lot of changes. Some of these changes include being able to imagine something more abstract. Questions like, “What is life?” / “Bakit ganito buhay ko?” or “How does one become truly happy?” It sounds “angsty” to us because these are questions often not verbalized. We don’t usually ask this unless we’ve downed our favorite alcohol while having JUNK (just us, no kids) night with our mom or dad friends.

Teens and Angst: Introduction to the Abstract

Jean Piaget, a developmental psychologist, often describes how kids remain in a stage of thinking known as the Concrete Operational Thinking Stage where they usually just think about the things they can sense. Like, “Why is that candy pink?”, “Why is the sun so bright?”, or “Ewww, veggies are yucky! They’re green!” But once they start maturing into adolescence, they’re slowly transitioning into the Formal Operational Thinking Stage. That’s one aspect of a teen’s and parent’s “growing pains” because their “angst” is them recognizing things that aren’t easily sensed.

How to Deal with Teens and the Angst That Comes Along

When parenting a teen dealing with their angst, it’s best to exercise a little more patience and communication. We’ll be doing a lot of mental gymnastics. But, it helps because they’re also trying to meet the goal which every parent wants their kid to have: once they reach adulthood, they know what they want in life. They know how to get it and what must be done.

It’s also good to remember that the world they’re seeing isn’t exactly the same as the world we once had as teenagers. While some elements like prom, bullies, and human-sized stacks of requirements are still there, some behaviors that were once normal such as gaslighting are seen as “toxic” because teens become increasingly more aware.

Teenage Angst isn’t always a bad thing.

When parenting a teen, the saying “work with their nature, not against it” still applies. Although it’s still a little confusing because of the many things they’re saying, teenagers become more vocal about their abstract thoughts and seek a deeper understanding. Our job at this point then changes. It’s not teaching them what’s right or wrong. Rather, it’s about supporting them as they try to accept the reality of making their own decisions and being accountable for them.

More about parenting teens:

When Kids and Teens Touch Themselves: Is It Normal?
Why Your Kids and Teens May Not Be Open To Face-To-Face Classes
Am I Too Picky With Who My Teen is Friends With?

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