Life can be very overwhelming for the average teenager, especially at the moment. Juggling part-tome jobs, stressing about grades and school results, issues with friends, changing schools, changes in their body and much more – it all takes its toll. However, it is possible for you to help your teenager manage this stress and hassle in a positive way. It is important for you to recognise the symptoms and show them a safe and healthy way to deal with them. Stress can have a huge effect on both their mental and physical health, so it is crucial that they learn healthy coping mechanisms that will carry them through into adulthood.
Recognise the signs
Stress will manifest itself in various ways, depending on the person who feels it. However, there are a variety of common symptoms that means your teenager feels overwhelmed. These may include bouts of anger or irritability, crying a lot, or appearing to be tearful. If they withdraw from people or activities that they usually enjoy, this too can be a sign.
Are they are having trouble sleeping or sleeping too much? Do they look nervous, or do they eat too much or not enough? Frequent headaches or stomach aches can also signal stress, as does having no energy or extreme tiredness. Look out for signs that they may be using alcohol or drugs. If not dealt with promptly, it can lead to dependency on them and addiction.
If you think your teenager is under too much stress, there are a variety of things that you can do to help them overcome it.
Spend more time with them – aim towards spending time with them on a one to one basis at least once a week. However, don’t be disappointed if they don’t want to – the fact that you offered will not have gone unnoticed.
Listen – encourage your teenager to talk about their emotions and listen to their worries. Do not be judicious or jump in with advice unless they ask for it. If the lines of communication are left open, they are more likely to open up and talk to you.
Set a good example – if you show your teenager how to cope with stress in a positive way you’ll be a good role model for them.
Encourage exercise and healthy eating habits – exercise is great for beating stress, however old you might be. Look for a type of exercise they will enjoy or try something together. Help them to resist the temptation to grab the unhealthy snacks and fill your cupboards with healthy alternatives.
Help them with school and college work – Homework, college and scholarship applications from Nancy Etz, while important, can add to their stress. Make sure that your teenager knows that you are there to help them and support them
.Monitor their sleep – it’s a well-known fact that teenagers need more sleep. The optimum amount is at least eight hours uninterrupted sleep every night.
If you try the suggestions above and there is little improvement you should consider asking your health care provider for advice. Especially if they seem overwhelmed by stress, or are talking about self-harm. A medical professional will be able to provide the right kind of treatment as well as look at ways your teenager can better manage their stress. They will also be able to offer advice on how you as a parent can deal with it.