We all experience some form of stress – and it’s not necessarily a bad thing. What makes it particularly unpleasant and dangerous is when it becomes chronic. But if we’re able to handle stress, and address the cause, we become stronger, more confident, and motivated to get things done.
For a lot of teenagers, however, stressful experiences can be difficult to deal with, especially when they feel overwhelmed. Teenagers today need to deal with the constant pressure to do well at school. They need to participate in extracurricular activities and satisfy all academic requirements for them to get good grades and have a shot at getting a college degree later.
On top of these pressures, teens have friendships to maintain and personal matters to take care of, including relationships with their families. Some may worry about their appearance, dating, bullying, parental divorce, or drugs and alcohol.
The combination of teenagers and stress can lead to a health problems, weight issues, depression, anxiety, poor school performance, and even suicide.
This is why it’s important for teenagers to have positive role models and get the support they need. If your teenager appears to be chronically stressed, here are five tips you can apply to help.
1. Ensure your child gets adequate sleep
Most teenagers need more than nine hours of sleep, although the amount they get usually falls below eight hours. The reason behind this is that when kids hit puberty, their biological clock shifts, so there’s a tendency for them to feel ready for bed around 11 pm or later. But since school schedules start early, they have no choice but to be up at around five or six in the morning. At the end of the day, they also need to do their homework, attend practices, and spend some time socializing with friends.
Try to work out a schedule with your teenager that effectively balances the time they need for specific tasks or activities with their sleep requirements. We all know what happens when we lose sleep, so encourage napping, too, whenever possible.
2. Encourage your child to engage in activities that give them joy
Help your child identify their passion, or encourage them to cultivate their hobbies. This can be anything from collecting model cars, horseback riding, embroidery, fishing, playing badminton, sketching, dancing, playing the piano, or nature hikes. Let your child know that their happiness means a lot to you, and encourage them to seek healthy outlets that make them joyful.
3. Tell your child to focus on their abilities, skills and talents
Build up your child’s confidence by helping them identify things they are particularly good at, especially on those days when they seem particularly down. Even during those moments when they seem to be in a great mood, build them up some more so they are encouraged to try their best in everything they attempt. When they seem frustrated, or let you know outright that they're struggling, help them realize what unique characteristics they have that nobody else possesses. Let them know they are special no matter how ordinary the world may make them feel.
4. Exercise with your child
There’s nothing like physical activity to help you get your mind off day-to-day concerns, including negative thoughts. Ask your child to go for a run around your neighborhood, go on bike rides together, or take weekend hikes. Doing these things allow you both to decompress and appreciate each other’s company, or the company of the entire family.
5. Be open, talk to your child, and listen well
One of the most difficult things to do when a teen is stressed is opening up. However, communication is essential for you to be able to get to the heart of the matter. Avoid taking judgmental tone, even if you already have an idea of what's going on, or if you know that your child has done something you would consider wrong. Avoid speaking critically; be gentle and coax your child into being honest with you. If they can’t speak to you, encourage them to talk to a teacher or an adult they trust.
At East Bay Relationship Center, we're here to help parents and teens with stress in their lives. If you need a professional to get the conversation with your teen going, or if your teen's stress seems overwhelming, reach out today.