Emotional insecurity during adolescence is normal and is often caused by a combination of hormonal changes, social pressures and the environment in which a child is growing up. Parents can help by being aware and accepting of the emotional turmoil that many teens experience, and also by working to lessen some of the causes of teenager insecurity.
Food Affects Insecurity
While some degree of insecurity during adolescence is normal, many teenagers make matters worse by not eating well. Because many teens are anxious about their weight, they will choose to skip breakfast or other meals in order to lose weight, according to the Iowa State University Extension and Outreach. This can lead to physical and emotional problems. Adolescents who are not well-fed are more likely to experience increased insecurity and be less able to handle circumstance in which they feel insecure or unsure of what to do, according to Iowa State University Extension.
Insecurity About Peer Status Affects Behavior
Peer status becomes increasingly important in adolescence. Michelle Wright of DePaul University worked with 405 adolescents in two areas to uncover the relationship between social status insecurity and behavior. She concluded that teens who were insecure about their social status would act to increase their social status. Teens that wanted to be popular and well-known were more likely to eschew prosocial behavior and adopt aggressive behavior. When teens wanted others to like them, they adopted prosocial behavior.
Insecurity May Increase Substance Abuse
A study published by the Teacher's College at Columbia University linked anxiety and insecurity in suburban adolescents with substance abuse. The study found that suburban, upper-middle class teens were more likely to feel stress and insecurity regarding expectations at school and at home. These teenagers self-reported that they used substances such as alcohol, marijuana and tobacco to alleviate anxiety over their sense of inadequacy or insecurity regarding their ability to succeed in school and please their parents.
Insecurity Sometimes Leads to Perfectionism
Research performed by psychologist Chang Chen, published in a 2012 edition of the journal "Personality and Individual Differences," concludes that perfectionist behavior and attitudes stem from personal insecurities. Chen and his associates studied adolescents. Teenagers who felt socially insecure were more likely to hold themselves to high standards and try to appear perfect to others by not admitting their faults. Because other problems can develop with perfectionism, including depression, parents with perfectionist teens might want to talk to their teen about feeling insecure.