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Teen Stressors

The teen years are typically filled with stress due to the rapid physical, cognitive and emotional changes adolescents undergo. What stresses teens is often different than what stresses adults.

Teen Stressors:

  • Social awkwardness
  • Being bullied
  • Academic pressures
  • Managing an overfilled schedule
  • Self consciousness about physical appearance
  • Peer pressure to use alcohol and drugs
  • Dramatic physical and cognitive changes
  • Family and peer conflict
  • College transition
  • Adapting to greater independence and responsibility

As a parent, you can help your teen manage stress. The best way to approach an anxious teen is to be as calm as possible. The first rule of thumb is to remember to contain your own anxiety. Be open and listen non-judgmentally. Listen more than you speak. Empathy and mirroring feelings can be very reassuring and will help your teen feel that his or her feelings are normal.

At a later time when your teen’s anxiety has passed, you might suggest some positive ways to manage stress like deep breathing, muscle relaxation, breaking down tasks into smaller steps, adequate sleep, exercise and a balanced diet, downtime, and enjoyable activities with friends. Help your teen find opportunities to build his or her unique strengths and deep interests, which will also reduce anxiety and lead to greater self confidence.

Parenting with Love and Imperfection

The patterns of relating that children demonstrate with important adults in their lives, as well as their peers, are dependent on early relational experiences with parents or caretakers. If a child has had his or her needs met most of the time, they come to trust that others will also respond to them consistently.

As a parent, you do not have to be perfectly responsive for your child to develop a sense of trust in the world. In fact, it may come as a relief that if you were perfectly responsive to her needs, you would actually hinder her emotional growth!

Misunderstandings, disappointments and other types of ruptures are inevitable in all relationships. When misunderstandings do occur with your child, they become an opportunity for you to help your child process and resolve the experience. These ruptures and repairs actually facilitate emotional growth. Saying “I’m sorry” to your child now and then goes a long way.

8 Important Parenting Practices

With the busy schedules parents juggle, few of us can find the time to read an entire parenting book. Sometimes biting off just a little bit of wisdom is enough to start navigating your family’s day with more mindful ease.

1. LISTEN. Be an attentive audience. Take the time to listen to your child’s concerns, ideas and stories.

2. ENCOURAGE. Be sure to praise your child in response to her good efforts. Try to have praise outweigh corrections or discipline.

3. OPEN UP. Share information about yourself to help normalize your child’s experiences.

4. PLAY. Find time to bond over activities you both enjoy. Finding something you like, too, increases the likelihood that you will make time for your child.

5. APOLOGIZE. Admit mistakes and say you’re sorry now and then. Children are quick to forgive and will respect you for it.

6. AVOID COMPARISONS. Resist the temptation to compare your child to siblings or peers. Instead of motivating your child, comparisons tend to be shaming and undermine your child’s growth and happiness.

7. REFLECT. Learn to monitor your responses to problem behavior, rather than reacting quickly and punitively. Resisting an anxious response gives you the emotional space to gauge how serious a problem is and to solve it in cooperation with your child.

8. CONSIDER YOUR LIMITS. When prioritizing expectations and deciding with your child how to get them met, carefully consider what you can handle. Do you have the time or emotional resources to help your child follow through or to enforce consequences if he doesn’t?