Mental Health and Celebrity Teens
Being a teenager is a difficult process under the best conditions, but when you are a celebrity at the same time it could be a daunting task. And yes, we’re talking most recently about Justin Bieber.
Lots of changes happen to the teenage body and brain at this stage in development, and while the body of a teenager takes the shape and function of the adult, the brain does not complete its functional development till later, around the early twenties.
Adolescence is marked by a distinct psychological development as well. This is the age when the sense of identity develops, and is marked by struggles, figuring out limitations as well as opportunities. This development period is marked by developing a sense of identity, essentially a ‘who am I?’ being the question, and that the end of adolescence hopefully provides an answer.
Erickson’s defines the period of 12-20 years the “identity vs. role confusion’ period, when adolescents either establish their basic and social and occupational identity or they remain confused about the role they will end up playing as adults.
In order to develop that sense of identity, teenagers are overly preoccupied with how they are perceived by their ‘imaginary audience’, as most teenager’s think of themselves as being on a stage with all their actions and appearance constantly scrutinized. When that teenager is actually on a stage they often develop an aggravated self-inflated perception of themselves or a perception with poorer self-esteem.
Adolescence is also a period of developing increased independence from parents and adequate capacities for self-care and regulation. When the parents are not present, as can be the case with teen celebrities more often than not, self-care and regulation are not adequately developed.
When a teen achieves a celebrity status, like Justin Bieber at age 13, many of the developmental tasks could fall out of sync. Being cast in an adult role when the psychological development is not fully accomplished could exacerbate some of the risk taking behaviors characteristic of this period of time such as the experimentation with drugs and alcohol. While the teenager tries to distance himself from the parents, parents are very important in helping them hold a firm balance, without being overly permissive, harshly authoritarian or indifferent. Being a celebrity when money is limitless, and possibilities are boundless puts the teenager at odds in terms of exercising his own boundaries, when the parental influence is markedly diminished.
If you like this article on celebrity teens and mental health, or have questions, schedule your first session by calling us at 713.426.3100.
Our behaviors are most of the time the results of the past experiences we had that trained our brain to go for ‘the carrots’ and avoid ‘the sticks’. We tend to not remember why we choose to do certain things and avoid others. Our unconscious mind drives us to make these choices, and most of the time we are not aware how and why we get to choose in a certain way.
When we try to generate new behaviors, it is important to engage our unconscious mind as much as we can, to eventually overpower our own internal limiting beliefs that might prevent us from changing the old ways.
1. Set up one well established goal with a well-defined measurable outcome (i.e. losing a certain amount of weight)
2. Set up the period over which you want to achieve that goal, as a reasonable expectation. For example, if you need to lose 10 pounds, remember that the healthy way to do it is by losing 1 pound per week, therefore a minimum of 10 weeks would be a reasonable period.
3. When you define the outcome, describe it to yourself in all possible details, paying attention to how you will feel when you achieve it, what would you see about yourself and the world outside you, and how everything would sound around you once you achieve the goal. For example if the goal is to lose 10 pounds to fit in a certain outfit, then have a clear imagine on how you would look in that outfit, how you would feel wearing it, and what would be the reaction when people see you wearing that outfit.
4. Once you are clear on that outcome, make a life size picture of it and see yourself acting in that picture while seeing, feeling and hearing what you will, once your outcome is achieved. Make it big, in color and edit it as if you would edit a movie, adding intensity through the colors, sounds, and feelings you associate.
5. Once you know how long it will take to achieve your goal, break it down into smaller steps. For the previous example, losing 10 pounds, starting after New Year’s day, over the 10 week period will start with … What? Joining a gym, maybe within the first week of January?
6. If the first step is joining a gym, then repeat steps 1-5 with just that particular subgoal in mind…picture in your mind what gym to join, the day of the week when you will join it, how good you will feel accomplishing this first step, how you will celebrate with your friends that you finally started the process etc. Remember to have that full image created; it might help to even write down a description of it.
7. If the second step is to implement a healthy diet, then a reasonable subgoal might be to accomplish that within the first 3-4 weeks of the year, given the fact that old habits take time to change. Repeat steps 1-5, picturing yourself at the end of the first month eating all healthy foods and exercising regularly. How would that make you feel? Maybe more energetic, more accomplished, more peaceful? Would your friends and family be inspired by the change? Would your outlook change, would you see the world in a more confident way, would you relate to people in a certain way? Take the time to think and picture this in your mind, in a big picture, life size and full of color and sound.
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It is important to talk to kids about violence to help them understand what happened and how to cope with the emotions that this brings up. Here is some information on how to talk to kids about violence.
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