Parenting a Stressed Out Teen

Many parents may roll their eyes when they here a teenager say “I’m so stressed out”. The first thing an adult may think is “whatdo you have to be stressed out about?”. As adults our minds go immediately to our jobs, money issues, car breaking down, mortgage etc. So what can teens so stressed out about? Studies made by the American Psychological Association show that teens actually experience more stress then adults do. How is this possible? Think about their life in their shoes for a minute. They go to school and come home right? Well not exactly.

They have a routine they have to live by here are SOME examples:

  • a school/home schedule
  • deadlines on homework
  • high demands for grades
  • college prep and looking good on paper for college applications
  • maintaining positive relationships with 6-7 teachers and administrative staff
  • be involved in some kind of club or sport for scholarships
  • maintain healthy body weight
  • deal with teenage body changes
  • learn how to be and adult but be the kid at home still
  • find time for chores
  • family quality time
  • deal with peer pressure at school about money, bullies, status or grades
  • make friends and keep them
  • help care for other siblings at home
  • get 7-8 hours of sleep each night
  • communicate their feelings and articulate

The list does not stop there. As an adult, we have control and power over all areas of our life. We have choices, we can start or stop jobs, we can ask for help, identify and articulate how we feel, we can look for support, choose our schedules and much more. As a kid how much power does your teen really have? The power they do have is unknown to them, drowned out by what they “should be doing” or “have to do”. Their life is a bunch of rules and demands.   Yes, parents can say “welcome to the real world!”. Yes you may find many similarities as a parent but right now what your teen is doing is learning.   They have one foot in childhood still and one foot in adulthood. They jump back and forth all the time between these two roles while they are learning.   Which is where their stress comes in.

Stress can manifest itself in many ways. Many teens find themselves lost, sad, overwhelmed, anxious, stressed and at times display these things with anger, self-harm and other harmful behaviors.

You can help you teen starting today by just taking a deep breath and listening to them.  As a parent you don’t have to solve everything today or tomorrow.  Your teen needs you, but the way they need you to be and that is a great listener.  If they need more help, they will know who to go to because they will know you will hear them.

Keep the connection XOX