If you have teens and are trying to navigate the sometimes turbulent waters, you are in the right place! Catherine from Mrs.Accountable is here to share her wisdom on stress management for teens. She has amazing advice and with a 14 year old that sometimes has me scratching my head, this has been very helpful to me.
Stress management for teens is a very important area that all parents will face with their teenagers. Stress happens to all people at some point. However, teens will respond to it differently than adults because their brains are not fully developed. While your teen may now look like an adult (my 15-year-old sure does), we have to remember that they have a lot of growing still to do, physically and mentally.
The teen years have always been filled with pressure, drama, and angst to name a few rides on the rollercoaster of teen life. But it is also filled with good things, accomplishments, and milestones.
How can you best support your teenager during stressful times? And how can you equip them to manage stress for themselves? Let’s dive in.
The Importance of Stress Management for Teens
Stress can affect your teen in so many ways. Unnoticed or untreated, It can result in things as physical symptoms, anger, withdrawal, or depression. You may or may not notice that your teen is being negatively affected by stress. Some of them hide it well and suffer in silence.
Why does stress come about anyway? It is a response to outside events, that the teen mind will perceive as danger and respond accordingly. Signs of stress can be physical, emotional, cognitive, or behavioral. As a parent, the importance of being able to recognize these signs can be monumental.
Learning how to positively manage stress will set a foundation for how your teen manages life’s challenges. If they do not learn coping mechanisms, it could result in mental health issues, addiction, suicide, or depression later. The teen years are the perfect time to support and guide your child in this area.
Causes of Teenage Stress
There are more causes of teenage stress that I can list here. This makes it difficult for parents because there could be signs that you don’t even know to look for. Here are some of the main causes:
- Problem with friends or lack of friends
- Pressure to perform in academics, extracurricular activities
- Managing life’s demands
- Changes in the body
- Family problems
- Feeling misunderstood
- World events such as the pandemic
To expand on some of the stressors, let’s take a closer look at a few.
Teens and Academic Responsibility
Academic pressure seems to have grown through the years. I think that parents have always wanted children to do well in school. However, my personal feeling is that the pressure to perform in this area can be very competitive and high pressure. Also, it seems like it moves at a faster pace than I remember. Not only pressure from parents, but sometimes the teens put this pressure on themselves from their own personal motivation to perform academically. Any of these reasons why can push your teen into a stressful situation.
Managing academic stress for teens is possible with work. There are several ways to help and alleviate this pressure such as getting organized and practicing time management. Also helpful is to schedule downtime to relax and recoup. One of the most important strategies is to have your teen take the time to appreciate their wins! In addition, recognizing that learning comes in many forms (such as life skills and nature), not just the kind of learning that results in grades and keeping a healthy mindset that there are things more valuable than tests and grades. Finally, understanding that it is okay to ask for help is very important.
Trying to Please Parents
Teenagers trying to please parents can be a huge source of stress and discord. And there can be as many variations of this as there are parents and children. Some parents have strict requirements and some have little or none. Both situations can be harmful to the teen and induce a stress response. Not living up to parent expectations can turn into disappointment and rebellion.
The solution to manage the stress of trying to please parents should come from both sides, parent and child. Communication is of the utmost importance in this area. Having open communication from both sides can help to understand expectations. Next, compromise is key in trying to please parents. Learning to give and take can let both sides of the equation feel fulfilled. A difficult but necessary strategy for teenagers is to remain calm and not reactive when trying to please (or not please) parents.
Not enough sleep
Another area that I feel is worth mentioning in managing teen stress is not enough sleep. I don’t know of any teens that want to go to bed early and get what is recommended for their age! Depending on the age, teens are recommended to get between 8-10 hours of sleep per night. And without it they can become, well grumpy (to put it nicely). Lack of sleep can also affect how they concentrate, communicate, and react to the day’s events. Though they like to think that they are grown, teen bodies and minds are still growing and sleep is such an important part of this development..
Allowing your teenager enough sleep can help tremendously with stress management. While it may be perceived as lazy, understand that sleep will fuel their body and mind.
Next up in teenage stressors is a big one in today’s world. Extracurricular responsibilities! This is a fast world that we live in. And extracurricular activities such as sports, clubs, jobs, and community service along with academic responsibilities can be a lot! It seems like each area requires much more than it did when I was a child. For example, some sports now require many nights and weekends and a huge time commitment.
Finding balance in this area of life is huge in stress management. Parents and teens should work together to discuss and decide how much is a reasonable amount of time for extracurriculars and pick and choose what to spend that time on. Without this type of intentional thought, these things can become overwhelming and add to the teen’s load.
I am mentioning traumatic events because as we speak, we are in the later part of year two dealing with the Covid pandemic. While there of course can be other traumatic events that affect how a teen deals with stress, this pandemic is one that all teens are dealing with, along with the rest of the world. This has been a scary and unsure time for all of us.
Like other areas, communication is very helpful during this time. Have some discussion as a family of how to handle situations that have presented during covid. Also, discuss the feelings that come with it such as fear and anxiety. Knowing that they are not alone in dealing with this can help your teen to feel more at ease.
Other Ways To Cope With Teenage Stress
There are many other ways of handling the pressures, nervousness, and moodiness of teen life. Here are some of my favorites:
- Healthy eating
- Outdoor activities
- Positive affirmations
- Disconnecting from technology
- Openly talking about problems
- Practicing mindfulness
- Healthy social outlets such as a youth group
Stress Management for Teens: Additional Resources
Here are two additional sites that will provide you with even more helpful tips for teaching your teen to manage stress.
How to Help Children and Teens Manage their Stress by American Psychological Association
Stressed Teens has a variety of resources on the topic.
You may also find these posts from Mrs.Accountable helpful as well!
Stress management for teens is one of the most challenging areas of a child’s development because the stakes are high. There is a 100% chance that something will present into their life that invokes a stress response.
On a personal level, my best advice based on my own personal experience for teen mental health support is to listen when they talk. I mean stop what you are doing and give them full attention, even when it is not a good time, or you are tired and ready to go to bed. Your teen will sometimes share their thoughts at random times and it is so important to make sure that they are heard.
In addition, plan intentional times to sit down and play a card game or something that they like, watch a silly video or show that they enjoy while you discuss. Basically just intentionally making time and effort to be connected. Teens will sometimes isolate and it is important to continue connecting on a regular basis so that they feel loved and supported.
With the proper coping strategies and a supportive environment, your teen can beat the stress monster! Take time today to open the conversation about this area and let them know that you support them. While parents can’t always be there with them, you can provide them with the necessary tools to deal with life’s challenges! Start that conversation today.
And of course one of the most powerful tools we have to help our teens is prayer! Check out these posts to help you pray for your child more effectively!
Mrs. Accountable is a blogger focused on parenting, inspiration, family, and adventure! Catherine is a mom of two boys and CPA. She enjoys writing about family and the tween/teen years while providing inspiration for parents & families!