Tips For Teenage Stress
Most parents recognize (and remember) that the teenage years are a volatile time marked by the struggle for independence, the forging of identity, the painful process of emotional maturation, and the learning of societal norms. Yet parents often underestimate the toll that the stress from these years can take on a teen.
Teenage stressor has never been more prevalent. Teenagers are living ever-more complex lives in a society that increasingly treats them as younger adults. It is important for parents to recognize the causes of teen stress and take measures to relieve or combat it. The American Psychology Association reports that 86 percent of tweens and 74 percent of teens state that they are comfortable talking to their parents about the things that cause them stress, yet only 50 percent of tweens and teens have talked to their parents about things they are worried or stressed about in the past month.
Teens are worried about grades, their future, sports achievements, peers, relationships, and the economy. Many teens are dealing with divorcing or single parents. Changing family dynamics, uncertainty of the future, and awareness of their parents concerns are added onto the teen’s list of stressors. The recession has increased stress for teens with some adding a job onto their already demanding school schedule. Others are in fear of their parents losing their jobs and the roof over their head.
- Remember that stress is contagious, but so is calm. Demonstrate relaxation and positive statements in your parenting routine.
- Talk to your teen. Figure out when their guard is most likely to be down and use that time to communicate.
- Stay up and have a late night snack with your teen. Teens may be more talkative at night and in the kitchen.
- Share stories about challenges you experienced as a teen and how you handled it. Make sure to share the mistakes you made. Teens are more likely to share their challenges after a story than a direct question.
- Give your teens more freedom, but keep clear boundaries. A teen without rules is a teen with much stress.
- Schedule downtime with your teen. Go for lunch, horseback riding, or shoot hoops. Take them out of their usual environment. You’ll be surprised how your teen will let their walls down doing something outdoors.
- Pay attention to what you say to your teen. Take a break from criticizing and correcting. Make a choice to give a compliment every day.
- Expose your teen to relaxation techniques like diaphragmatic breathing, visualizing, progressive muscular relaxation, and positive statements. Empower you teen to feel good!
- Help your teen with time management and balancing their schedules.
- Discuss the future and address specific changes like job loss or divorce with your teen. Explain how this will impact your teen’s life and talk it through to a positive hopeful outcome.
Parents sometimes make the mistake of interpreting legitimate stress as the typical emotional volatility associated with being a teenager. Labeling stress as ‘just being a teen’ both unfairly discounts the difficulty of the teenage years and can obscure the telltale signs of damaging teen stress. Parents might notice their teen is stressed if they see that their teen is easily agitated, overactive, confused, afraid, angry, sad, anxious or withdrawn. A preoccupation with a traumatic event, withdrawal from family and friends, sleep disturbances and physical complaints can all be indicators of stress. Teenagers with unmanaged stress are more likely to use drugs and alcohol. Parents need to be aware, get involved, and trust their instinct.
Teens can also help manage their own stress levels, by making a homework plan, scheduling downtime, exercising regularly, eating healthy, communicating with parents, creating supportive positive friendships and getting plenty of sleep. Parents should encourage this behavior whenever possible and model living life in balance.