As an adult, we are often tempted to think teens have it made. All they have to do is eat, sleep, play and go to school we tell ourselves. If we asked teens, they would have something different to say about it. Underneath all that doing nothing, some call it, lies stress. According to an article on the NBC News site teens are experiencing just as much stress as adults, in some cases more. Some of us adults know the dangers of stress when it goes unmanaged. Understanding the stress teens are experiencing and providing some coping mechanisms is a great place to start with supporting our teens.
What’s got teens stressed out?
You could just ask your teen or you could look at the statistics. School work wins the vote for the stressor that most stresses our teens out. In one study teens were interviewed, 78% said school work was there highest stressor. How could that be? Isn’t learning fun? As a parent and home school learning coach, I can see how school work got the vote. I don’t want to go into how the school system setup is not always catered to the teens learning or how lessons are given but not taught. I don’t even want to discuss how the pass or fail marks or grading is tends to be the focus instead of learning. Those are blog topics for another time. I do want to express that teens are under pressure to pass at a time of their lives where they could be having fun engaging in the learning process. There is a list of other areas where teens experience. That list includes: parents, dating, friends’ problems, too-high expectations, moving to a new home and school, and employment. I could add more, but you get my point. Teens have stressors.
How are teens coping with stress?
It’s important to know how our teens are coping with all the stress they have. According to one source, teens reported feeling the effects of stress by feeling overwhelmed, depressed, and tired. Some skipped meals because of stress (TeenHelp.com). An article in USA Today suggests that teens are not always dealing with their stress in healthy ways. Unhealthy coping could cause a pattern of illness in the future. As a nurse, I had the unfortunate opportunity to see how teens coped with stress on an extreme level. Some teens attempt suicide several times through overdosing or cutting themselves. On a, less extreme level some teens play sports, exercise, spend time online, or play video games.
What can adults do to help?
The first way adults can help teens with stress is to acknowledge that stress exist for them. As a parent of two teens I am familiar with some interventions that are helpful. I have created a list below for you:
- Encourage your teens to talk when they feel stressed. The earlier in life you teach this the better.
- If your teen is having trouble defining what’s stressing them, help them articulate what it is.
- Introduce your teen to an activity that will assist them in managing their stress like meditation or journaling.
- Remind your teens of the control they have and help them see solutions they can implement.
- Remember yelling, nagging or provoking your teens only leads to more stress.
- Make sure your teen is getting enough rest and a balanced diet.
- Help your teen with how to prioritize tasks and how to break big task into smaller ones.
- Assure your teen there is a solution and help them list the options.
- Help your teen with time management.
- Assist your teen with building knowledge or skills they feel are needed.
I think it’s safe to say that teens are going to experience some form of stress in their life. Some even argue that some stress is beneficial to inspire motivation. However, you think about stress know that stress must be dealt with. As adults, we need to be alert to the signs of stress and know how to intervene. In every area of life, I favor the approach that creates the healthiest outcome. Let’s encourage our teens to favor that too.