Many parents have a difficult time understanding teenage stress. Its often hard for adults to focus in and comprehend that a teen could have issues in their lives that cause enormous amounts of anxiety and unhealthy stress. Parents tend to think that the problems of teenagers are minor or they easily disregard them as insignificant. As a parent we must step back and try to see things from the eyes of our children so that we lend them assistance and the much needed tools to deal with the hardships that the world often hands out.
Teenagers are vulnerable to not only emotional stress but also physical stress from the abrupt changes that their bodies are morphing through. Many teenagers are dealing with issues at school, peer pressure that parents have often forgotten about, sibling issues, relationship issues even though most parents want to believe their children are not indulging in ‘grown’ up relationships, and a general feeling of confusion that is brought on from hormones and their own physical bodies changing.
Many parents do not even realize that their teenager is in turmoil. As our children age they often cease to talk to us about anything but mundane matters and we accept this as a natural part of growing up but we need to break down the walls and open communication with our children so we can lend assistance. We need to watch for subtle changes that might signal our children are suffering and under undue stress. These symptoms are often one or a combination of what is listed here.
1) Weight gain or even weight loss
2) Withdrawn attitude
3) Sleeping more then usual
4) Sleeping less then usual
5) More emotional and prone to crying or fits of rage
6) Spending more time in their room or away from the house
7) Acts of rebellion
8) A change in friends or routine
9) Failing grades
10) Lack of interest in what once interested them.
These ten signs can be a red flag that something is wrong in your teens life and they need your help. Often these symptoms are due to stress so, as a parent, you need to reach your teenager in order to offer assistance. Unfortunately, these symptoms can often also indicate drug use so be careful when evaluating the problem.
The first goal as a parent is to identify what seems to be causing your teenager excessive amounts of stress. This means that you need to sit down and talk to your child. Let them know you are there for them. Try to open the avenues of good verbal communication so you can learn what the problem is. If this fails and the problems persist then you might be faced with intervention by a third party such as a professional counselor. A counselor will not only help your teenager one on one but might also decide to help the family as a whole to open up communication and aid in stress reduction.
If your teenager is stressing out about school then make achievable goals. Let them know that they do not need to be a straight A perfect student all the time. If your child is failing or struggling then seek a tutor or help your child yourself to bring his or her grades up. Ease the stress and the pressure of being perfect at school. Your child does not need to be ‘perfect’. No one is ‘perfect’. Please emphasize this to your child.
Some children are stressed because they are in a grown up relationship that is happening too soon. As parents we never want to think of our teenagers as sexually active. This is often a volatile conversations that will only add more stress to your teen. Before you embark on dealing with these often hot and difficult topic you need to sit down and stay calm. If your teen is facing a major decision offer advice and help. If your teenager is already sexually active make sure they are practicing protection so that stress will be relieved. If the whole situation is upsetting to your teenager then simply try to help your child to step back and realize that perhaps he or she is not ready for such an ‘adult’ relationship.
If your child has stress that are friends related or sibling issues then try to offer an ear and understanding. Help your child through the issues so they can achieve stress relief.
Try to help your child gain new interests that relieve stress. These do not have to be complicated issues. Just simple ways to relax. If your son enjoys sports then take him to a game. If your daughter likes crafts then sit down with her and have fun. If you can afford to leave for a weekend of relaxation then take your teenager away so they can breath and forget for a little while. Perhaps give your teenager a journal to write about their feelings and issues. Writing can be very therapeutic.
Help your teenager outline a weekly goal chart. Make these goals attainable and help every step of the way. Teens like routine and this can also help them manage their daily stress. Be sure to provide lots of praise and support.
If your teenager continues to be under stress then you might be faced with seeking a professional no matter what. Stress in teens can often morph into depression, suicidal thoughts, self mutilation, drug abuse, and many other self destructive behaviors. You want to make sure that your teen has the tools to deal with stress in every day life as they move forward before they are faced with harder emotional hurtles.
As parents we do everything that we can to help our children. The most important thing we can do is to be aware of what is going on around us, be active in our child’s life, try to truly know and understand your teen, be both a friend and a parent. This will ultimately help you to help your teen when stress takes over their lives.