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Is your teenage daughter or son always irritable and enraged? Or are they withdrawn and not talking with their friends or family? Is there a sudden change in the academic performance of your teen?
Irritability, self-isolation, sleeplessness, change in appetite and even physical symptoms like tension headaches are all signs of stress. While some amount of stress is unavoidable, however, if your teen feels constantly stressed out and if it is affecting their behavior, you might need to take some steps to resolve it.
What Causes Stress in Teens?
What is teen stress and what causes it? Toxic stress in teens can be caused due to a variety of reasons:
A teenage child might be unable to cope with the stressful situations and competition inherent in today’s academic environment. Many parents and teachers add to this stress by framing exams & academics as the be-all and end-all of life. This pressure to perform bogs down teens and affects their mental health.
Every teen wants to feel included and accepted by their peers. When this need is not met, it can cause insecurity and anxiety in teens. Also, teenage years are the age at which most children venture into the world of adult relationships. They might be navigating through their first attraction or first relationship.
Changes in relationships - be it friends, mentors, girlfriends, or boyfriends - may contribute to stress in teens. Even losing a friend, either due to an argument or due to a change of schools/location, can hugely impact their emotional well-being.
Children look to their parents for comfort and stability. Any instability in familial relations can hugely stress out teenage children. Not only are they sensitive to conflicts in the family, but they are also perceptive of the stress levels of their parents.
It is not just a marital conflict between the parents, but any dispute between different family members can upset the emotional stability of the teen.
As a child enters their teenage years, they are stepping foot into the adult world. They are coming forth and forming their mentality, physicality, and sexuality. It is a stressful time for any person.
Modern teens are also asked to make big life decisions during this period. They have to decide what academic streams to take, what career interests them, and which educational institutions to choose for higher studies. They may also have to consider different factors into consideration when making these decisions - their interests, viability, finances, proximity to home, relationships, etc. This can lead teens to feel out of control and overwhelmed.
Many parents put immense pressure on their children to excel. Parents might have good intentions - to ensure that their children are the best selves they can be. However, this can cause teens to feel stressed. When even one’s hobbies are transformed into competitions where one MUST perform well, it leaches the joy out of these activities. This limits their avenues for relaxation and increases their overall stress level.
Stress Management for Teens
Breathing Exercises and Meditation
Stress management skills are essential for every individual, especially teens. Give them the resources needed to tackle stress.
Practice breathing exercises, as it is a good stress management technique for teens. Taking deep calming breaths can instantly reduce stress and anxiety. Meditation and practicing mindfulness can improve overall emotional stability and increase the presence of the mind. Encouraging teens to journal daily can provide them with clarity of thought.
Cultivate Good Life Habits
Only a healthy body can house a healthy mind. Practice good life habits and encourage these habits in your teens also. Have healthy and nutritious meals. Lack of proper quality sleep can contribute to irritability and inattentiveness. Ensure that your teens have a regular sleep cycle and they get adequate sleep. Studies have shown that regular exercise and physical activities can significantly reduce stress.
Ensuring that your teen has regular physical activity, nutritious meals, and a proper sleep cycle can stabilize their moods and reduce their vulnerability to depression and anxiety.
Ensure that there are open communication channels between teens and their parents. Talking about stressful situations with a trusted adult can give them new perspectives and solutions.
As a parent, ensure that your teen knows that they have their family for support and guidance. Listen to their concerns completely with an open mind before offering solutions. Acknowledge their feelings about the matter and never trivialize the issue. A disagreement with a friend might seem like a minor matter to you, however, it can deeply upset your teen child.
Connect With Your Teen
Do you know your children’s friends? Do you know how they like to spend their time? Are you truly connected with your teen?
Make sure that you spend a few hours daily as a family without any mobile or screens. Talk with your children about their daily life, and do some activities together. Cook dinner together or perform chores together. Teach them some household skills or play together. The more time you spend together, the more chances they have to open up about their concerns. Invest time, effort, and energy in your familial relationships.
Seek Professional Help
Sometimes, teens need more long-term solutions to stress management. They might be struggling with negative thoughts, anxiety, or depression. Seek professional help if stress is disrupting your daily life or causing physical symptoms.
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