If you’re feeling stressed, anxious, confused or just plain cranky, you may be out of tune with your brain and body’s needs.
Understanding what makes you tick will lessen the stress of your testosterone-charged world and help you overcome day-to-day obstacles.
Read on to find out what you really need during these hormone-infested years.
Treat me like a person, okay?
You may constantly be checking to see if people respect you – and that’s normal, says clinical psychologist and expert on adolescence, Dr Andrew Fuller.
As boys, you respond well to people who have expectations of you and who believe that you are capable of achieving your goals.
So rise to the occasion. Be willing to go the extra mile for people, even if you’re scared of embarrassing yourself. The more good deeds you do, the more useful (and respected) you’ll feel.
Who’s the boss?
On one hand, you crave independence, but in truth, your brain is hard-wired to respond to clear, fair authority, says Fuller.
“Young guys need boundaries, says Fuller. “(This) requires parents to become benevolent dictators.”
You may feel like every last bit of your life is controlled – but instead of fighting the system, try to remember that parents and teachers really do have your best interests at heart.
In fact, use these authority figures wisely, and you’ll learn a lot. By showing that you’re open to advice from the adults around you, you’ll gain the skills you need to be independent anyway. Win-win!
Fewer words – more hand signals
Your sister might hate you for this, but boys just communicate differently. You genuinely don’t hear her sometimes!
Boys need more visual and physical signals than girls do, partly because they are less tuned into facial cues, explains Fuller. This means that you are also more able to ‘screen out’ white noise (which includes parents asking for your attention).
As a result, you may experience mixed or missed signals, which can be frustrating for everyone, including you.
But there are ways to improve communication. If your sister or parent comes into the room, try to focus. Stop what you’re doing, look them in the eye and try hard to really hear what they’re saying. Practice makes perfect!
Gaming – use it or lose it
Studies show that boys “generally love competitive games,” says Fuller.
You might have found yourself aiming paper at a dustbin, rather than walking over to place it inside; this is typical of the challenge-loving nature of a lot of boys.
Computer game designers have caught onto this trait, which is why a lot of games make success challenging, but break down the steps into small victories, helping you to succeed about 80% of the time before building up to 100%, as well as giving you the opportunity to try again.
Focusing on these types of games is not only good for both your inner competitor and your stress levels, but you can apply the principles of gaming to help you achieve real-life goals. Break down steps into smaller victories – for example, studying for an hour now, rather than putting it off, then rewarding yourself with a short break. Eventually it will become part of your daily routine.
Take it fast and take it slow
Boys learn well visually and are stimulated by moving things – so feel free to make drawings and online animation tools for studying or bounce a ball while learning a particularly difficult bit of math.
Keep your time schedule at a flowing pace, too. Break goals into small steps so that you don’t feel as if you’re stuck in the same boring pattern.
Taking time out from your hectic life is also important.
“In order to reflect and re-energise, [you] need quiet times to think, read and at times quietly chat with others,” says Fuller.
Find a peaceful spot in your home and switch off devices. You’ll feel more relaxed and focused.
Choose being awesome over being angry
You get angry. That’s normal. But when it threatens to embarrass you, ruin friendships and cause you sleepless nights, it’s time to chill.
Fuller says boys find it hard to shake off feelings of anger or shame, and often end up doing silly or self-defeating things to save face.
Simply getting enough sleep, staying hydrated and developing coping mechanisms such as exercising or listening to music can all help combat stress.
Chalking up successes will also help you to think more positively, so try setting up a personal goal schedule. You don’t have to climb a mountain on day one – just pick a small, attainable goal, such as doing ten sit-ups before school.
Tick that off, and you’ll feel less ‘ticked off.