Helping Teens Handle Stress
Like adults, teens can get stressed out without knowing it is happening. One minute all is well, and then things start to back up. They get behind in homework, projects are due all at once, a team goes to nationals, a family faces a crisis, or a romantic partner breaks up with them – there is no end to what can go wrong.
However, unlike adults, teens may not have experienced this new level of stress. Many teens may not know how much these events affect their behavior. Below are some tips to help you and your teen identify the signs of – and cope with – stress in his or her life.
Tips for Preventing Stress in Teens
- Be a role model.
- Try to remain calm when dealing with stressful situations.
- When stressed, demonstrate coping strategies.
- Get enough rest, eat well, and seek support.
- If you know a particularly stressful event is coming, talk with your teen about how to prepare and avoid getting stressed out.
- Focus on the process instead of the outcome.
- How hard a child tries is more important than the grade they receive.
- Help teens monitor their activities in order to prevent "over scheduling".
- Talk with your teen about their motivations.
- Help your teen understand how to balance extracurricular activities, sports, and schoolwork with time for friends, family, and relaxation.
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Tips for Addressing Stress in Teens
- Help teens identify signs of stress.
- Signs of stress include a fast heartbeat, butterflies in the stomach, chest tightness, obsessive thoughts about being ready for things, inability to enjoy restful activities, etc.
- Teach teens ways to relax and cope with stress.
- Some methods include: taking a bath, exercising, yoga or deep breathing & meditation, listening to or making music, etc.
- Remind teens that they are in control of some things in their lives.
- Encourage them to make decisions and prioritize activities when possible.
- Encourage teens to talk about what is causing stress in their lives and identify healthy ways of dealing with it.
- Identify perceived "unhealthy" ways of coping with stress.
- For example: using alcohol or drugs, ignoring a problem, watching too much TV or playing too many video games, getting irritable and cranky, etc.
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