Adolescent Stress

Adolescent stress or teenage stress is on the rise according to recent surveys.

If you are a parent and think you may have a stressed adolescent in your household begin to observe a little more closely.

Lots of changes happen during adolescence so it's easy to mistake normal growing pains (both emotional and physical) for stress. The signs of stress in kids can include outbursts of anger, depression, radical mood swings, difficulty coping with school and home tasks, isolation and withdrawal from social interactions, excessive tiredness, and irregular eating habits.

Trying to rationalize with your child about the situation generally does little to help.

Instead, the most successful way for parents to both prevent and help allieviate the problem is to create a harmonious home environment and model positive ways of dealing with their own stress.

Take a look at the Life Inventory graphic on this page. It may appear as funny but for many adolescents it tells a true story. They are at an age where the expectations to be more "adult" are high. They are encountering serious relationships with their peers for the first time but have little experience or knowledge about how to handle their emotions. They have needs that cost money but have no income. All of these circumstances are stressful and most teens would not want to admit it. This is the time of life when they need a mentor - someone who can be there to support them without being an authority.

Routines help. Kids go through so much change that they really appreciate normal routines in their lives although most would never admit that either.

Regular meal times, clarity around responsibilities of each member of the household, sitting down to nutritious family meals rather than eating on the run, scheduled sports and leisure activities and showing up on time for them, allocating time for homework separate from TV time or video game time, and good regular personal care habits all help to reduce adolescent stress.

Parents need to set the example and reward children who follow the example in their lives.

The other thing parents might consider is to help teenage children to plan and prioritize when they feel overwhelmed.

This is best done with supportive questions rather than just laying down the blueprint.

For example: "I see you have a lot going on. Want to tell me about it all?" Then LISTEN.

Then maybe ask "OK.. that sure is a lot! Which of all of that do you feel is most important for you to get done today?" And finally "Is there any way any us in the family might be able to support you today in getting it done?"

You may notice that for the kind of conversation outlined above to happen it would need a parent who was not too stressed out themselves. So again - manage your own stress and you'll be in a much better position to help deal with adolescent stress in your household when it appears.

As a parent you might also be wise to continue your own education and

read a little on how to master your own life.

Read this article from Yale on The Effects of High Stress On Adolescents

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