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Young People’s Questions

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My parents’ frequent fighting is beginning to affect my concentration at school. They had a fight this morning and my mum hit my dad’s head with a stool. When I informed my best friend about it, he said his own parents never quarrel or fight. What can I do?

I can imagin how frustrating this could be for you. It can be depressing to see your parents quarrel and fight, especially when this happenns often.

Nevertheless, I would like you to know that it is normal for parents to have disagreements. Most couples do have disagreements. So, it may not be true that your friend’s parents never quarrel. Some parents are able to manage their conflicts without letting their children know about them. Your friend’s parents may fall into this category. However, some parents may sometimes find it difficult to contain their conflicts, and this could be due to stress or pressure. This may be the case with your parents.

You need to find a polite way to let your parents know how unhappy their frequent quarrels and fights make you to be. You do not need to judge between them and you should also avoid taking sides with either of them. You may consider writing if you are too shy or angry to talk to them. You may also start with the parent you are closer to.

Please, remember that your goal is not to criticise their actions or say who is rght or wrong. If possible, do not get involved in the details of their disagreement.Your goal is simply to let them know that you are not happy about their fights and that you would be happy if they can always live in peace. Also remember that your approach should be an appeal to your parents and not a command or an instruction. They are your parents and you must at all times relate with them in a respectful manner.

Most parents would be touched when they realise that their children are being negatively affected by their fights but if your efforts fail, you may need to talk to a close family member whom you know they both respect and would listen to.

Why Won’t my parents allow me to visit my friends?

Parents love their children and would want to do everything to keep them safe. As a result of this, they may sometimes prevent you from doing certain things that you ordinarily want to do, if they think you might get into trouble . If your parents prevent you from visiting your friends, it is most likely that they think you are too young to go out unaccompanied or they are not sure about your safety at your friend’s place. It could also be that they have observed some behaviours in your friend that they are not comfortable with.

What you can do is to discuss your worries about this with your dad or mom. I’m sure they will let you know their own concerns.

How Can I avoid sexual intercourse in my relationship with my friends of the opposite sex? I am 15years old.

Being able to avoid sexual intercourse as you relate with your friends begins with self-awareness- you should be aware of your own vulnerability or weaknesses that could easily make you to get involved. For instance, a young person who abuses alcohol can easily indulge in sexual activities because while under the influence of alcohol, he or she may not be able to put up any resistance in the face of sexual advances. So, you need to study yourself, discover the things about you that can easily make you to indulge in sexual intercourse and find ways to deal with them.

Another important thing is being able to set personal boundary. It is important to let your friends know the limits to which you would allow physical or bodily contact and be plain and firm about it. For instance, if you have told your friends that you do not want hugs, you should ensure that you never initiate or accept a hug from them under any circumstance.
You also need to be assertive.You should know that you alone have right over your body and therefore should be bold enough to refuse anyone who attempts to have unacceptable contact with your body.

Another thing that can also help you to put yourself in check is your consciousness of the consequences of sexual involvement such as contraction of STD.s, unplanned pregnancy, anxiety and others. You should always ask yourself, if you are ready to face these consequences.

The type of friends you have is also very important in keeping to your values. One of the easiest ways to maintain your values is to have friends that share the same values. That way, you would not struggle to keep to your values. For instance, if all your friends have equally decided on ‘no sexual contact’, it would be easy for you to avoid sexual involvement.

Assertiveness- You need to understand that your body belongs to you and you therefore have
the right to to decide how you want others to relate to you as your body is
concerned and be bold enough to state your position irrespective of the person involved.

Please, what does it mean to know a man? I overheard my grandma scolding my big cousin sister, saying she believed my cousin sister has known a man.

‘To know a man’ is a phrase commonly used, especially by the older generation to mean that a young girl or a lady has had sexual intercourse. In the traditional Nigerian society and in many other African communities, a young person, especially a girl is expected to remain as a virgin irrespective of her age until she gets married, and any girl who does otherwise is seen as bringing shame to herself and her family. This is the reason your grandma was angry with your big cousin sister. Though some young people believe that this culture of keeping one’s virginity till marriage is primitive, it is still the best way to remain safe from the devastating consequences of sexual intercourse before marriage, which include unplanned pregnancy, STI.s, unplanned parenthood and the emotional problems that could surface if one is jilted by a partner after sexual involvement.

My parents are always arguing about my future career. My dad is a lawyer and wants me to study law while my mum is a chartered accountant and wants me to study accounting but I’m not interested in any of these. I want to be a dentist.

For you to excel and find fulfilment in your career, such a career must be one that you are very much interested in or passionate about, and also allows you to develop and utilize your potentials. Another important factor to consider is whether that career will be relevant in the future when you would have graduated from tertiary school and ready to practice that career.

Therefore, your career choice should not be based on what your parents or other people want for you but on what you want for yourself after you have considered the above factors.

However, it is common for parents to suggest careers to their children based on their observations about the abilities of the children and their projections about what they think will be more beneficial to the children in the future. This kind intention on the part of parents should be appreciated. Hence, you do not have to be angry with your parents, you only need to let them know in a very polite way that you appreciate their involvement but you would like to follow your passion. If you you do this and your parents still insist on their choices, you may ask your school counsellor or any other enlightened adult that they respect to help to talk to them about this.

I always forget when I read

Do you understand when you read? To be able to remember when you read, the first thing is to understand when you read because reading without comprehension causes confusion and makes recalling of important facts difficult.
Some of the steps you can take to enhance comprehension include minimizing distractions when studying. Some people say they play light music when studying to silence other distractions in the environment but this does not work for most people. For many people, they need absolute quietness to be able to concentrate. You need to understand yourself and how you learn and apply what works for you. Other activities that could amount to distraction and jeopardize comprehension include chatting on social media while studying, watching a movie or attending to telephone calls.
Your emotional state while studying is also a crucial factor. You need to be emotionally stable in order to comprehend while you study. If there is anything bothering you, it would be helpful to talk to your counsellor,your parents or other trusted adults.

Do you meditate when you read? Having ensured that you understand as you read, it is important to ponder on what you have read, over and over, and try to apply it to practical situations. Apart from enhancing your comprehension, this exercise gives your brain the opportunity to master and therefore retain the information that you have acquired through reading. The truth is that you cannot recall anything unless your brain retains it.

How soon after reading do you try to recall what you have read? Some people could study for 5 hours on a stretch without pausing to try to recall what they have read. Such students often feel frustrated when they get into the examination hall, and find they can’t remember anything even though they have read for the examination.
Studying is not only about reading. An important aspect of studying is consciously tasking your self to recall what you have read. If you are studying for 2 hours for example, you can take a break after every 30 mins to try and recall what you have read. However, this timing depends on you and what works best for you. Some students can study for 2 hours and by the time they are done, they can say everything that they have read but it is not so for everyone.
The most important thing about trying to recall after studying, is the time gap between the time you acquire information through reading, and the time you attempt to recall. If you leave a long gap after reading before you try to recall, the tendency to forget would be high. Hence, it is helpful to practice recalling after reading. It is dangerous to read and wait till you got into the examination hall before you start to recall.

If after applying these tips, you do not record any improvement, please, discuss your challenge with your counsellor. Your counsellor may have to design an intervention plan for you,
based on detailed assessment of your learning style, study skills, attitude, motivation and other factors.

My parents say I am a failure because I am not as good as my siblings in academics

I share your pains. I can easily relate to the feeling of inadequacy that could result when those that we look upto for positive feedback tell us that we are worth nothing. However, while others’ negative feedback could make us to feel bad, we are more affected by the way we judge ourselves. What do you think about yourself? Do you see yourself like a failure or as someone who can and will succeed?

Sometimes, we make the mistake of comparing ourselves with others in areas where they may be better than we are and begin to see ourselves like failures. We often forget that each of us is unique and that there may be other areas where we are better off. The fact that your siblings are doing better in school than yourself does not mean that they are better than you are. If you look inward, you may discover other aspects where you are very good.

We do not need to be good in all aspects of life to live a great life. All that we need is to identify one area where we are very good, develope ourslves in that area and strive to excel in that area. This brings me to the next question; is your course of study in consonance with your interests and potentials? Are you happy about your course of study or are you studying that course just because it is what your parents or others want for you? If you are not interested in your course of study, it is most unlikely that you will excel in that course. If the course is the problem, it is never too late to change to a course that you are passionate about.

Perhaps the course is not the problem and that you are merely having challenges at the moment. This means that you can do better once the challenges are adequately handled. Therefore, the next step is to identify the challenges that inhibit your performance.

What do you think are the challenges? Are there biological inhibitions? If yes, then you may have to see your doctor. Do you have emotional challenges? If so, you need to talk to a counsellor or a psychologist. Do you attend lecturs regularly? Do you take down notes or do you have adequate access to study materials? Do you pay attention in class? Do you turn in assignments as at when due? Do you understand when you study? If you understand, do you try to meditate after studying and make effort to recall severally before tests and examinations? Lets assume recalling is not the problem, do you express your answers as adequately as possible during tests and examinations? It is one thing to know the appropriate response to a question but it is another to know how to adequately express your response. Remember that it is only what you put down that the examiner would assess and not what is in your head. Do you get involved in examination malpractice? Who are your friends? It is easier to succeed when your friends are serious minded students whose attitudes will encourage you to work hard than when your friends are those without positive influence. The above questions are meant to help you to clarify the problem and thus make it easier to arrive at solutions.

While working to improve your performance, please, always remember that your goal is not to compete with your siblings or others but to become the best that you have the potentials to become. Do not bother about those who think you are a failure. If you focus on personal growth and work hard towards it, it will only take a little time for people around you to change their impressions about you.

If you need further help, do not hesitate to get in touch.

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