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Helping Your Teen Manage Stress

Posted Feb 19 2013 2:00pm

unhappy teen

Just like adults, teens may experience stress daily.  During the teen years there are so many changes that occur and stress is often is inevitable. Many times, adults may overlook the stress that teens feel and this can cause the teens stress to escalate. 

Helping your teen identify the cause or source of their stress is a great starting point.  While it may not be as easy as it sounds, it is very important.  Try talking to your teen about their stress to see if you can help them pinpoint the cause.

Some sources of stress for teens might include:

  • school demands and frustrations
  • peer pressure
  • negative thoughts and feelings about themselves
  • changes in their bodies
  • problems with friends and/or peers at school
  • separation or divorce of parents
  • moving or changing schools
  • taking on too many activities or having too high expectations
  • family financial problems

Here are some ways that you can help your teen to reduce and manage their stress:

Always have an ‘open door policy’.  That means that you should always allow your teenager to share things with you in an open and honest manner regardless of how uncomfortable the topic may be.  Allowing your child to speak freely is a great way to assist them in relieving stress in a positive way.  Don’t be alarmed if while your child is sharing their feelings that they seem to have an outburst, cry or even slip in a foul word or two, the key is to allow them the freedom to unload their feelings in a safe environment. 

Help your teen find healthy way to relieve stress.  Encourage your teen to do something physical.  Exercise will not only increase your teens overall health but it will also help boost their sense of well-being, which will help to lift up their spirits.  Exercise burns away the chemicals like cortisol and norepinephrine that cause stress. At the same time, exercise releases endorphins into the system. Endorphins are morphine-like hormones that are responsible for the feeling of elation and happiness.

Help them find a solution.  If after talking to your teen they are able to pinpoint the source of their stress, you can then help them find a solution.  For instance, if too many after-school activities consistently cause homework stress, it might be necessary to limit activities to leave time and energy for homework.  If there are stressful situations involving peers, you can then talk to your teen about different ways to address the problems.

Call in the experts.  If you notice that you and your teen are doing all that you can to help them reduce stress yet, nothing seems to work, counseling is a great option.  There seems to be such a stigma with counseling yet it is often the best answer.  Teens may feel ashamed about having to share their feelings and they may also worry about  being taunted if the news of doing so got out so many teens and parents shy away from going to counselors. If you belong to a religious group, you may want to ask around to see if any counseling services are offered. You can also call the school to speak with the guidance counselor for other avenues to seek counseling as well. 

As a parent, it hurts to see your child under stress and/or unhappy.  While you may want to, it is important that you try to resist the urge to fix every problem. Instead, focus on helping and guiding your teen towards positive solutions.  This will help your teen grow into an adult that is a great problem solver that can also handle many of life’s ups and downs.    By teaching healthy coping strategies to your teen now, you’ll prepare them to manage the stresses that come in the future.

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