Teen Drama: Handling Mean Girls, Cyber Bullying, and Sexting

Mean Girl

Teenage girls apply makeup and lipstick.

Do you know this girl? She dresses perfectly, is popular with both boys and girls and everyone wants to be her friend. She also lies to make herself look better than others, spreads rumors just to look cool, and can be mean to those she doesn't like.

What to do: Realize her behavior is designed to make herself feel more important by using others. Avoid her and be true to yourself. Hang out with those who appreciate you for who you are.

Busting Out

Teen girls in green tank tops.

Puberty starts at different times for different girls. Every girl develops breasts -- some will develop faster than you will and may be a different size than you will be. Girls who develop before or later than their friends can become frustrated. Sometimes you may feel anxious about your body.

What to do: Realize we are all different and be proud of yourself. Get help to make sure you get the right bra for your body. If you have questions about your body talk with a parent, counselor, or teacher. Your friends are not always aware of the variety of ways your bodies may change.

Embarrassed Online

Surprised teen boys look at a computer screen.

You open up your Facebook page and discover someone has posted a lie about you and your boyfriend. You and he know it's not true, but what about everyone else?

What to do: Set up your Facebook account so only your real friends (not everyone you have "friended") can see your page. If you are bothered by either kids or adults while online tell your parents and principal right away. Then set up a block so they don't have access to your Facebook page.

Too Shy to Talk

A teen girl raises her hand in class.

You are anxious about volunteering the answer in class. What if you are wrong? It would be terrible and very embarrassing.

What to do: Realize everyone is nervous about making a mistake in front of others. But also realize each time you raise your hand and give an answer you are showing your strength. If you get the right answer it's an extra bonus. The more you try, the easier it becomes.

I Hate My Nose!

A teen girl looks in the mirror.

My nose looks like a bird's beak! Everyone is always looking at it and I am sure they are talking or laughing about it behind my back. I need plastic surgery to fix it.

What to do: Surgery can change the look of your nose and face but you may find another reason to dislike your body -- too small breasts, too many pimples, too short or too tall. Realize your friends like and admire you for who you are -- not for how you look. After all, you like them for their loyalty and supporting you in tough times, and not because they wear a size 4 pair of jeans.

Left Out

A girl with her hands in her pockets.

Everyone at school hangs out with a group: athletes, good lookers, cheerleaders, even the nerds. You feel totally out –- you've got nobody like you to be with.

What to do: When you hang out with your friends do you talk about the same things all the time or lots of different things? Life is boring without variety. Develop friendships with many different types of people –- it's a lot more fun.

Cyber Romance Realities

A teen girl's hand on a computer.

You have found someone online that really seems to understand you and wants to be your friend -- and they want to meet you in person. That seems reasonable but you have a bad feeling about getting together. Should you ignore your instinct?

What to do: Do NOT go! There are many people who enjoy harming innocent victims -- both physically and emotionally. These people are wonderful at telling you what you want to hear and will often lie to gain your trust. Never give out your personal information (real name, address, or phone number). Never meet anyone in an area that doesn't have lots of people around to help you should you need it. Tell your parents about anyone who seems weird or scary.

Not That Into Him

A teenage couple holds hands in class.

You know you and your boyfriend are ready to break up and you decide to tell him it's over. You don't want to hurt his feelings or make him mad but you feel it's time to move on.

What to do: Once you know it's time to break up you should tell him how you feel in a direct and honest way. Don't break up by email or texting -- tell him to his face. Don't go into lots of details when friends ask you "why." Tell them it's a personal decision and you still respect him and will treat him the same way you would like to be treated.

Period Problems

A cheerleader in a locker room.

What a disaster! You're sure your period shouldn't start until next week but your stained pants tell a different story. If anyone finds out, you will die from embarrassment.

What to do: Time to be creative. Let your shirt hang down outside your pants and wrap a sweater or jacket around your waist. Ask a trusted teacher or the school nurse if she has a pad or tampon you can use. Time to plan ahead -- keep a supply of pads or tampons and underwear in your locker in case of emergency. You may also want to have an extra pair of pants in your locker.

Bad Breath

A girl with bad breath.

A good friend just told you your breath really stinks.

What to do: Bad breath can happen if you have a cold, sinus, or lung infection. More commonly it occurs because you aren't brushing your teeth or flossing properly. Try brushing the surface of your tongue with your toothbrush. Sometimes tiny amounts of food debris can get lodged on the surface. Try a mint or mouthwash. If none of this helps it's time to see your dentist or doctor.

Your Parents

A mother talks to her daughter.

Don't your parents realize they treat you like you are an infant? They rub their fingers through your hair and are always giving you suggestions about everything. It's like they want to be your best friend. Don't they realize you're growing up and don't need to be told what to do or be reminded all the time?

What to do: You have to show your parents you are maturing and worthy of more responsibility and independence. Be creative and do some of the things they are always bugging you to do without being reminded (for example, picking up your room or doing your own laundry).

Bad Mood

A depressed teenage girl.

You're tired and grumpy all the time. Or maybe you don't want to hang out with your friends like you did before. You just want to be left alone in your bedroom with the lights out.

What to do: Everyone gets "down in the dumps" but if your desire to be by yourself or your feelings of sadness are getting worse quickly or have lasted longer than two weeks you should talk with your parents. Counselors will talk with you privately and can't tell your parents what you talk about unless you say it's OK. If you feel like you might want to hurt yourself or others, tell your parents RIGHT AWAY! These feelings are an emergency.

Dangerous Eating

An empty box of chocolates.

Your best friend eats her food but then goes into the bathroom and makes herself throw up. Or maybe she tells you she takes laxatives to make her have diarrhea as a great way to lose weight. You think you might want to try these same ways to lose a few pounds. They seem to help her stay really skinny.

What to do: Your friend is very sick and needs help right now to heal her body and allow her to feel better mentally right away. Eating disorders can affect your entire body and often those with an eating disorder don't see themselves the same way you do -- no matter how thin they are they feel they need to lose more weight. If she won't listen to you, tell your parents or another trusted adult. She needs help right now!

Belly Fat?

A girl pinches her waist.

Look at all this extra skin and fat around my middle. How can I make it go away?

What to do: Everyone (even those who you think have the perfect body) has extra skin in certain body areas -- around the waist especially. You need it to be able to both bend over and stand up straight. Try bending over, pinch the extra skin, and then stand up. You can't do it unless the extra skin is there. If you aren't happy with how your body looks, check out your diet and check out how much exercise you get every day -- it should be at least one hour (not counting recess/lunch time).

Drinking Too Much

A teen drinks beer.

You and your best friend like to party and have figured out how to use your parents alcohol without them realizing it's gone. Getting buzzed is fun but the last time you drank so much you passed out. Your friend got really scared.

What to do: Talk to a guidance counselor or call Alateen. Never drink and drive, and never get into a car with someone who's buzzed. More teens die in car accidents than from any other cause. It is 100% preventable. Don't become a statistic… please!

You're Caught Bullying

A girl caught in trouble by the school principal.

The principal has called you and your parents to her office because you have been reported for repeatedly giving a girl a hard time. She says you are bullying her.

What to do: The saying, "sticks and stones will break my bones, but words won't ever hurt me" isn't true. Cruelty to another can be physical or verbal. Both make the other person feel bad. Sometimes things just get carried away -- but that can't happen if it never starts. Treating others the way you would like to be treated is good advice.

Dateless

A teen girl at prom.

Everyone has a date for the homecoming dance except me. My boyfriend just broke up with me and I am really stuck. What am I going to do?

What to do: There are a whole lot of options. First, turn the tables and ask a boy who doesn't have a date. Second, go with a group of your friends and be a date for the entire group. Either way you'll have a lot of fun.

Designer Dud

Two cool teenagers wearing stylish clothes.

Everyone has cool clothes except you. Your parents say the cool clothes cost too much and what's "in" keeps changing. You're sure everyone is laughing at you behind your back. It's embarrassing!

What to do: First of all, remember that what used to be great not too long ago to wear is now really out of fashion. Styles change so you'll spend more money and make the designers wealthy. Use your own ideas of what looks good. Try checking out secondhand or thrift stores. Keep your eyes open for sales at the stores that sell clothes you like. Don't try to be just like everyone else –- people's bodies are different and you should have clothes that flatter you -- not just what everyone else is wearing.

Spreading Messages

Teen boys share text messages from a cell phone.

You sent a sexy photo of yourself to your boyfriend and he is showing it to all of his buddies and may even put it on YouTube. Now everyone at school is talking about you.

What to do: Never send a message or photo you wouldn't want everyone to see now and forever. When you put something on the internet you have lost all control over who sees it. Take this simple test before you click "send" -- what if my parents saw this?

Parental Pressure

Trophies on a shelf.

Your parents expect you to get great grades, participate in lots of activities outside of school and help around the house. They have no idea how overwhelming it is!

What to do: If you are feeling pulled in 10 different directions and unable to deal with too many expectations you need to sit down with your parents and develop a list in order of importance of your daily responsibilities. To be healthy you need time to sleep, eat at a relaxed pace, and just hang out with your friends and "chill." If the pressure gets to be too much, speak to a counselor. Sometimes parents don't realize their expectations may have gone overboard.

Super Sibling

Two competing sisters.

You think your parents like your brother or sister more than they like you. They are always comparing you to them and you always come up short. You don't like your parents or your sibling.

What to do: Parents aren't perfect. They may not see their behavior the same way you do. Sit down with them and tell them your feelings. Nobody likes to be constantly compared to others -- that happens all the time a school (grades) or sport teams (starting vs. bench athletes). You don't want the same thing at home. Talk with your sister or brother to let them know how you feel, too.

Shoplifting

A girl tries on sunglasses.

When you and your best friend go shopping she always steals something.

What to do: She may think taking things without paying for them is a fun game and the store can afford it. She may say, "everyone does it." Tell her you believe it's wrong to steal, it is a crime, and both of you will be arrested if caught. She will have a stiff punishment. Even if you don't steal anything yourself, if you are aware of her behavior you can also be arrested as an accomplice.

Parents Won't Let You Drive

A girl drivesing in a car with her mother.

At last! You've got your driver's license but your parents have put a lot of restrictions on your newfound freedom.

What to do: Just because you have passed your driver's test doesn't mean you have all the behind-the-wheel experience other drivers have. Your parents want you to be safe. The more you show them your maturity the more they will allow you to do. Remember the number one cause of teen and young adult death in the United States is automobile accidents (over 3,000 per year).

Reviewed by Margaret Walsh, MD on 7/27/2016

Teen Drama: Handling Mean Girls, Cyber Bullying, and Sexting

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