Immigrant Teenagers, a Very Common Reality

Adolescence is a critical stage for people. Therefore, the reality of immigrant teenagers shouldn't go unnoticed. In this stage of life where everything changes, stress from moving to a new country can be a huge obstacle.
Immigrant Teenagers, a Very Common Reality

Last update: 01 May, 2019

Migration causes lots of stress, no matter how old you are. However, teens are part of a very vulnerable group. In this article, we’ll tell you more about immigrant teenagers, which are very common nowadays.

Immigrant teenagers: identity problems

When a family decides to move to another country for whatever reason, such as employment or war, it separates the family from their culture. It uproots them from the languages and traditions they’re familiar with.

Of course, they learn the new ones in their new home. Depending on the ages, this change can have serious consequences. Often, they stick around for a lifetime.

A lot of people don’t talk about immigrant teenagers, since the focus is usually on babies and children. However, at this crucial stage, any trauma, changes or stress affects teens, both short-term and long-term.

What’s life like for immigrant teenagers?

Sometimes, immigrant teenagers make friends with people with the same past. This is because they usually have many of the same experiences and feelings. However, in other cases, adolescents have to share their time with peers that were born and raised in the new country.

When the latter happens, immigrant teenagers may go through an identity crisis. This means that everything that they’ve learned throughout childhood is gone. Now that they’re building their personalities for adult life, they need to think and act like the people in their new country do.

Immigrant Teenagers, a Very Common Reality

All changes have their consequences. It’s very important to have a close relationship with parents and relatives while migrating as a teenager. 

In this stage where you define yourself as a person, a dramatic change like leaving your home, friends and country can make teens feel unstable. Additionally, they might reflect this in their behavior and academic performance.

In adolescence itself, there are lots of stressful situations that teens need to go through because of puberty, hormones and growing up. If you add a traumatic situation like moving to a new place, you can understand why immigrant teenagers might seem “difficult to teach.”

“At this crucial stage, any trauma, changes or stress affects teens, both short-term and long-term.”

Immigrant teenagers: how to help them

If you’ve made the decision to move your family, it’s very important to help your children cope with these changes. After all, there are a lot of changes happening all at once.

Teenagers suffer a lot when they separate from their friends, go to a new school, or adapt to a new neighborhood.

Teenagers can show a few different signs, such as not having good grades in school, not getting along with their peers or treating their parents badly.

Of course, they could also be because of the unique life stage they’re in. However, if you add a big move into the equation, it’s important for parents to take action to help their children.

Immigrant Teenagers, a Very Common Reality

How to help these teenagers

It’s very important to support your teens in the best way as they go through these changes. Communication is key, even if they don’t want to talk. Ask them how they feel, what they miss about their old life, or what bothers them about their new home.

If it’s not possible to go back home for a little while, nowadays, technology can help make the distance feel smaller. Additionally, they can feel connected with everyone they left behind. Make sure to make use of your resources to keep in touch with friends and family.

Another way to help immigrant teens is to find groups where they feel happy and supported. For example, you could move to a neighborhood where there are other immigrant families. In fact, you might be able to find a place where other people speak the same language.

Finally, in some cases, we also recommend that teens go to therapy or other professional help. Psychologists can be very important to help teens figure out what they want in the future, and prepare themselves for life in their new home.

All cited sources were thoroughly reviewed by our team to ensure their quality, reliability, currency, and validity. The bibliography of this article was considered reliable and of academic or scientific accuracy.

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  • Briones, E., Tabernero, C., & Arenas, A. (2005). Variables psicosociales relacionadas con el proceso de integración social de los estudiantes inmigrantes. Cultura y Educación, 17(4), 337-347.
  • Etxeberría, F., & Elosegui, K. (2010). Integración del alumnado inmigrante: obstáculos y propuestas.
  • Luengo, M. Á., Villar, P., Sobral, J., Romero, E., & Gómez-Fraguela, J. A. (2009). El consumo de drogas en los adolescentes inmigrantes: implicaciones para la prevención. Revista Española de Drogodependencias, 34(4), 448-479.
  • Pérez, E. B. (2010). La aculturación de los adolescentes inmigrantes en España: aproximación teórica y empírica a su identidad cultural y adaptación psicosocial (No. 99). Universidad de Salamanca.
  • Sipi, R. (2000). Las asociaciones de mujeres,¿ agentes de integración social?. Papers: revista de sociologia, (60), 355-364. 

This text is provided for informational purposes only and does not replace consultation with a professional. If in doubt, consult your specialist.