As children get older, their sources of stress increase. Teens are more likely than young children to be stressed by events or situations outside the home. Studies show that for younger kids, school-related activities remain their top stressor. For example, a 2013 survey by the American Psychological Association (APA) found that stress was extremely common among teenagers.
Additionally, teens often feel pulled between their family of origin and peer groups. This can lead to a lot of stress as teenagers navigate between the two. Peers may help buffer some pressure but can also trigger the need for approval or acceptance. Therefore, your teen must surround themselves with healthy friends. As a parent, you can provide crucial support to help your child navigate life challenges.
Here are five ways you can help:
When it comes to recognizing stress in teenagers, there are a number of key indicators that can give us a sense of whether or not a teen is struggling.
Spending more time with and confiding in peers is normal for growing up. However, when teens start to avoid their parents or abandon their long-time friendships in favor of new peer groups, this may be an indication that they are experiencing significant stress.
Another sign can be seen in teens who express excessive hostility toward their family members, particularly when there has been no long-standing conflict. Negative changes in behavior can also indicate stress, such as when a once generally well-behaved teen starts breaking curfew or skipping school on a regular basis.
When talking to teens about stress, it is essential to practice active listening and reflection. It helps to remember that adolescents may not be familiar with stress or its meaning. Teens may express feelings of distress in other ways, such as saying that they are worried, confused, annoyed, or angry. Additionally, children and teens may also verbally express stress through negative self-talk, such as saying things like, "No one likes me" or "I'm stupid."
If you're talking to a teen who seems to be struggling, it's vital to acknowledge that their difficulties are real. The key is not to deny what they are going through and how it makes them feel. Instead, have them give you the facts of the hard place they are in and, in response, show them that you understand and empathize with their situation.
Compassion and understanding can be incredibly helpful for teens who feel like nobody understands what they're going through. It will also allow your teen to trust you and speak more openly about what is bothering them.
One way to approach the topic of stress with your teen is to help them first identify how they are feeling in response to the stressor. They might say, "I'm feeling anxious right now," or "I feel stressed and nervous." This is the "name it to tame it" technique; research shows that we can better integrate emotions when we label our emotions.
Once they have labeled their emotions, you can help them brainstorm ways to cope with their stress. This might include:
It is critical to provide support and encouragement while also helping them develop skills for managing stress in a healthy way.
Exercising on a regular basis can be a powerful tool for stress management. Exercise provides an opportunity for immediate stress release.
Exercise as a regular practice can help to reduce the overall level of stress in a teen's life. When you engage in physical activity regularly, your body becomes more efficient at managing stress. As a result, your teen may feel calmer and more able to cope with difficult situations. This occurs because regular exercise helps us produce endorphins which support a positive mood and feeling good.
One of the best things parents can do to help their teens manage stress is to show them healthy coping skills in action. Be honest with your child. Acknowledge what you are going through and talk about how you are handling it.
Some activities that can be helpful in this regard include:
By modeling safe and healthy ways to cope with difficult experiences, we can help our teens build the resilience to navigate life's challenges more effectively. It will also help them develop the confidence and motivation to sustain a healthy lifestyle.
At Clearfork Academy, we understand that you play an essential role in helping your teen manage stress. We provide group therapy to allow you and your teen to talk openly about stress without judgment or recrimination. We provide this setting because listening to what your teen says is crucial in establishing trust. Talking about stress can also help you and your teen develop a shared understanding of the problem and brainstorm solutions. We also provide programs that implement reflection and physical exercise as tools to help teens reduce stress. Following initial treatment, such activities can also serve as a bonding activity for you and your child. When you work with your teen, you both work together to manage the stress in their life. For more information on how to help your teen with stress, call Clearfork Academy today at (817) 259-2597.
Originally from the Saginaw, Eagle Mountain area, Austin Davis earned a Bachelor of Science in Pastoral Ministry from Lee University in Cleveland, TN and a Master of Arts in Counseling from The Church of God Theological Seminary. He then went on to become a Licensed Professional Counselor-Supervisor in the State of Texas.
Austin’s professional history includes both local church ministry and clinical counseling. At a young age, he began serving youth at the local church in various capacities which led to clinical training and education. Austin gained a vast knowledge of mental health disorders while working in state and public mental health hospitals. This is where he was exposed to almost every type of diagnosis and carries this experience into the daily treatment.
Austin’s longtime passion is Clearfork Academy, a christ-centered residential facility focused on mental health and substance abuse. He finds joy and fulfillment working with “difficult” clients that challenge his heart and clinical skill set. It is his hope and desire that each resident that passes through Clearfork Academy will be one step closer to their created design.
Austin’s greatest pleasures in life are being a husband to his wife, and a father to his growing children. He serves at his local church by playing guitar, speaking and helping with tech arts. Austin also enjoys being physically active, reading, woodworking, and music.