5 Ways to Help Your Teen Manage Stress
As a working Mum life can be stressful enough, but having a stressed teenager in the house can take it to a whole other dimension!
No one’s teen years are stress-free. While your child may appear to have all the freedom in the world with no pesky responsibilities like paying the bills or taking care of children, remember that many tasks which you don’t give a second thought to now are still challenging at that age. Teens are stressed by their hormones, their workloads at school (particularly during exam periods), and their social lives, much of which is brand new to them. Teenagers and young adults face unexplored territory nearly every day.
It can sometimes be difficult for us parents to relate to our teenagers and their ‘teenage ways’, and while we no longer know all the details of what’s going on their life, making it harder to understand and empathise with what they might be going through, by taking the following five approaches into consideration you can help your teenager deal with stress. In turn, your thoughtfulness will lead to a healthier, more conversational relationship with them.
1) Remind and support, but don’t nag. It’s important to encourage your teen to do her homework, maintain her friendships, do chores around the house and eventually get a part-time job. While she does need to learn and grow, it’s a bad idea to force her growth by buzzing in her ears all the time. Use positive reinforcement (congratulations for a job well done) much more often than you use negative reinforcement (shaming and scolding for an incomplete job). Come to an agreement with your teen that he or she will do some particular chore or task by a certain date or time, and don’t bother bringing it up again until after that time has passed. Teens need their own space in which to grow, plan, and prioritize. If they get that space, they’ll feel a sense of accomplishment because they’ve done something on their own, and they won’t resent you for pushing them too hard. Instead, you will have helped foster strength and independence.
2) Be ready to listen, and try to listen without being judgmental. Your teen is still partly a child. As irrational, difficult or crazy as he seems sometimes, he isn’t behaving as he does just to make you angry or to rebel against you; his choices are more about himself and his own explorations of the world than they are about you, so it’s usually inappropriate for you to take them personally. If your teen seems upset, stressed or explosive, don’t demand a full explanation immediately — he might be upset about something sensitive or private, and this could be exactly why he’s having so much trouble with it in the first place. Suggest talking about it once your teen has calmed down a bit.
3) Be attentive, but not invasive. It’s important to quietly monitor you teen for signs of chronic stress or trouble, but if you’re perceived as a threat, this will only make stress worse. Don’t invade your teen’s privacy — don’t search through her belongings, don’t read her diary, and don’t hack her Facebook account. This will only lead your teen to feel suffocated and mistrusted, which will prevent your teen from trusting you in return. If you instead prove yourself to be a valuable and supportive resource by regularly, asking about her well-being and leaving it at that, your teen will voluntarily seek you out, and you’ll have no need to be invasive in the first place.
4) Provide a safe, supportive, consistent home environment with nutritional food and a regular schedule. Maintain regular bedtimes, too, and stick to them while encouraging your teen to do the same.
5) Manage your own stress effectively. If you provide an example for your teen, your teen will most likely follow suit and learn to manage her own stress effectively too. When you’re angry, take a time out. Talk about your problems thoughtfully, rather than ranting.
A stressed-out teen can stress out a whole household, especially if the household is unprepared for the physical, biological, and psychological stresses of the teen years. It is possible to make the terrible teens easier on your teenager. This starts with minimizing your own stress levels and taking steps to provide your teen with rational support in a consistent, non-judgmental and loving style.