Teenage Problems/Dealing with 16 year old daughter's ego
My 16 year old daughter has had a major personality change recently. She's normally a gentle, kind girl, and looks a little bit like Taylor Swift.
However, her ego has recently got the better of her, after a girl told her she looked like Taylor, and now everything she does revolves around her ego or inflating it. She sometimes says about things "That will DEFLATE MY EGO!!" and her social media pages are full of nothing but "WORSHIP MY EGO"-type stuff, but nothing personal. A friend of ours thinks it goes beyond normal teen behavior and may indicate a mental problem.
Me and her mum are worried; could this indicate some sort of illness, or is it normal teenage behaviour?
If we did go in for some sort of assessment, wouldn't it be expensive or could it be NHS-related? (also, she's got Asperger's syndrome, a side-form of autism too)
I mean, if you had a friend or colleague who refused to do things because of their ego, wouldn't you be concerned?
It's odd, and it worries me.
(I'm on a shared wi-fi, so on the move, if this is a bit hastily written, I'm sorry!!)
Hi there John,
Thank you for taking the time to write to me and I hope that I can help.
Firstly, it could be that this reaction to people telling your daughter that she looks like Taylor Swift has served to boost her ego and along with it, give her a sense of self-confidence that is helping her to deal with issues in her life that she may have. If she has never thought that she was pretty or has low confidence and someone mentions that actually she looks like someone who is pretty and who has achieved global success, your daughter may be clinging on to the belief that by emulating the person that she has been likened to that she will also attract similar success. It could be a way of her over-compensating for a lack of confidence or ability in her life. If she has always been a confident young person anyway but now this confidence is through the roof, then it could be more to do with her Aspergeric tendencies than anything else.
Having worked with people with Asperger's for some time, there is a pattern of behaviour that can lead to repetitive and imitative behaviours which mean that the individual tends to inflate something said or done into something of exceptional importance to them. It could be that this is what has happened to your daughter; a throw away comment that someone has made, she has embraced and internalised (that is, retained it as a reference point for future behaviours and attitudes) making it difficult for her to understand that it was just a throw away comment and not something meant to define her life. Depending upon her level of understanding, it could be that she has taken this comment literally and she will begin to almost act like Taylor Swift with an air of diva about her. The issues is, for you as her parents, is helping her to understand that she is her own person and although it is nice for her to have confidence, she needs to understand that people do not deal well with over-confident or arrogant people and her behaviour may actually serve to isolate her.
It could be that this is 'normal' teenage behaviour and if it is, then it should begin to subside within a matter or weeks. It could be a reaction to her growing up and not really feeling like she has an identity with her peers that makes her separate. One of the issues that affect most young people your daughter's age is the idea of acceptance from peers but also, having a social circle that appreciates, accepts and embraces who we are as individuals. If your daughter does not have a big social circle or she is left out quite a bit, she may have developed this ego to again, over-compensate and almost to try and re-invent herself to make her more popular.
Whatever the reason, because of her Learning disability, it could be worth looking at either getting her reassessed by social services to see if there is additional support that they could put in place (for example, if this is a reaction to being lonely, social services may be able to put support in place so that she can access a wider social circle) or by accessing local mental services to offer her support around her mental health. Getting her assessed by social services is a straight forward process that does not cost anything and is something that you can do yourself, on her behalf, by calling your local social services learning disabilities team. Depending upon when she was last assessed, it might be worth asking them if there is the possibility of a reassessment due to a change in her behaviour. Social services should be able to either reassess her and offer additional support or they may be able to put you in touch with community services that can help. If the behaviour does not change over a period of a couple of months and ties in with more extreme behaviours, then going to social services may help as there could be underlying issues that need exploring. This is a free service and there should not be any charge.
The other thing you can do is to go to your doctor with your daughter, explain your concerns and ask him to refer you to the local mental health team (it will probably a Community Psychiatric Nurse) and the team will work with your daughter to discuss any underlying issues and may offer something called Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) which aims at changing people's perceptions of themselves into something more healthy.
Failing that, there will be a mental health charity (such as MIND) that will be in your local area and they should be able to help or at least signpost you to further services.
As mentioned previously, it could be that this is normal teenage behaviour and if it does subside then there will be no intervention needed; but if it is becoming more noticeable by other people outside the family then it could be worth getting it looked at help.
I hope that helps and Good Luck.