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Valentine’s day warning: Teenagers depend on their romantic partners too much

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Parents have been urged ahead of Valentine’s Day to teach teenage children life skills and be alert for risky behaviour.

Dr Boonreung Traireungworarat, director-general of the Public Health Ministry’s Mental Health Department, said yesterday many teenagers relied too much on boyfriends and girlfriends for a sense of happiness.
He announced the findings of a recent Rajanagarindra Institute of Child and Adolescent Mental Health survey of 2,100 students ages 11-19 in Bangkok and its vicinity. 
Two-thirds of respondents said they were happy with their lives and 70 per cent said they derived happiness from helping others.
Another 18.6 per cent said spending time with their families made them happy. 
One-third said they were unhappy, citing a lack of confidence in solving life issues, a lack of self-esteem and a sense of being a failure.
Asked about Valentine’s Day, 39 per cent said it was an occasion to profess love, while 33 per cent felt indifferent about it. Some noted it was an annual occasion for adults to warn young people about the dangers of romantic relationships. 
More than 41 per cent indicated they had had a boyfriend or girlfriend. Of these, 95.7 per cent said they’d had “at least one to five partners”. 
One respondent claimed to have had 20 partners. 
The youngest age given for having had a first boyfriend or girlfriend was eight years and the oldest 17. 
Half of respondents who had had a partner said they could depend on them for happiness and that they made them feel complete and no longer lonely.
Asked what they did when they felt uneasy or upset, 51.3 per cent said they enjoyed spending time alone quietly, trying to solve problems by themselves. More than 43 per cent vented their feelings to sympathetic friends. Fewer turned to their parents. 
Boonreung expressed concern over the tendency among teenagers to attach their happiness and self-esteem to other persons, saying that if a problem arose with that other person, it could result in stress, depression or even premature pregnancy. 
The “silver lining” in the survey results, he said, was that many youngsters derive happiness from helping others and spending time with the family.
Parents, teachers and older relatives should cultivate those attitudes to help prevent risky behaviour, such as drug abuse, unhealthy sexual behaviour, self-inflicted injury and suicide, he said. 
“Spending more time with your teens and giving importance to promoting their life skills and constructive activities will boost their self-esteem,” he said.
Institute director Wimonrat Wanpen said the five issues most cited by teens calling its hotline and visiting the office were stress, romantic disputes, sexual matters, mental health problems and family disputes.
She urged people to promote life skills so teenagers could maintain self-esteem, analyse and solve problems constructively and be able to control emotions, manage stress and create good relations with others.

Published : February 13, 2018

By : The Nation