Teen Stress

Is your teens stressed out? Would you recognize it if she was?

Stress is now commonly recognized as one of the leading causes of physical and mental health issues for both adults and teens. For teens, life can be particularly stressful as they figure out how to manage academic expectations, relationships with friends and family, and maintaining their personal appearance and social lives. The patterns of stress management they learn in response to these stresses will establish a framework for how they will manage their adult life stresses. As a parent, your first priority will be to recognize that your teen is stressed and then to teach her manage that stress. Notice I did not say completely eliminate stress. Learning how to manage and deal with less than ideal situations builds resiliency and prepares your child for the real world. There is a balance your a looking for that does not include rescuing your child every time things get tough.

If you teen is dealing with two or more of the following common sources of stress, most likely she is feeling overwhelmed:

-academic expectations
-family expectations
-family conflict
-family transition
-social conflict
-unresolved historical trauma–physical, verbal or sexual abuse, death of parent or sibling, high-conflict divorce.

In addition to the presence of obvious stressors in your teen’s life, you can also watch for the presences of 3 or more of these indicators that your teen is suffering from stress (Note that these can also be standard teen developmental behaviors, and can be caused by other factors as well, so please see these as areas to investigate but not worry too much about. )

-inability to sleep
-irritability
-lack of flexibility
-withdrawal from friends or family
-procrastination
-intense reaction to a grade lower than an expected
-persistent use of drugs or alcohol

Once it is clear that your teen is indeed stressed, you will want to help your teen learn to manage her stress. In order to keep stress management from becoming another stressor, both parents and teens must be gentle and forgiving of themselves and of each other during difficult times. This gentleness that we exemplify to our teen will help her learn how to manage stress.

Remember that you can support your teen with her stress habits by managing your own stress and discussing the topic of stress with her. Does she see when you are stressed? Do you let her see how you manage your stress? Do you tell her what decisions you have made that where specifically guided by the value of having less stress in your life?

Here are some additional considerations:
-Does she have down time to just hang out? Look at her daily schedule and help her find time to unwind.
-Is your teen having fun with others? Encourage her to spend time with friends.
-How active is she? Exercise or creative endeavors are shown to reduce stress.
-Discuss your expectations of her. Find out what she thinks you expect of her and correct any distortions.
-What are her personal expectations of herself? Help her to set realistic goals and manage them.

While all adults and teens would do well to rein in their busy schedules and relax, the demands of school, work, and daily life can make stress seem unavoidable. No matter how hard families try to keep it at bay, stress often slips back in.  Clearly, stress management is a skill that must be consistently cultivated and developed in order to remain effective.

Coming next week! Race to Nowhere.

This documentary by a mother of two children, who notices that their love of learning begins to wane and they are getting sick due to school stress, is a wonderful commentary on how the school learning environment has changed since the No Child Left Behind policies were instituted.

Analy High School Auditorium,in Sebastopol,
Wednesday February 22nd, from 7:00 to 9:30pm
A panel Discussion with local educational professionals will be included!

Buy tickets on line for $11.50/ $15 at the door www.rtnanalyhs.eventbrite.com.

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