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Hot Social Toipic: Teen-Stress-In-Action: What's A Parent To Do?

I hope you enjoyed the brief video overview on this topic. On this page, Dr. Andie goes into a more in-depth analysis on this subject. Click here to return to the video.

Are today's teens more stressed than other generations of teens before them? Are they dealing with life issues that are characteristic of this day and age? Although every generation has its bumps in the road so to speak to deal with, I do feel that today's teens are dealing with more complex issues brought about by a society that is demanding more from them by continuing to raise the bar to be smarter, more involved, and exposed to life situations before they are physically and developmentally ready.

So what's a parent to do? I know since I'm a parent to a teenage daughter. I know what's it's like to watch your child try to handle all the homework, all the friend dramas, and balance their extra curricular activities and still have the energy to enjoy life.

Here are some tips that a parent can do to help that over stressed teen:

  1. Encourage down time after school: Allow them guilt-free time to practice "nothingness". By practicing "nothingness", it doesn't mean vegging out in front of mindless TV. Encourage them to take walks when they are feeling stressed, or to take some time to just let their minds wander. Learning "just being" helps counter the whirlwind activity life that is often stressful.
  2. Lend supportive organizational help: The fact is that a brain does not fully mature until age 23. Unfortunately, the areas of the brain that have to do with impulse control, organization, and decision making, the ones we assume are fully developed, are in reality, the ones that need to mature and develop. Just because teens may physically look more adult like, the truth is that their brains aren't. We can support them by helping them learn time management skills with homework and their extra-curricular activities. Teens often have no clue how long it actually takes to complete a task well. To a teen, everything is a priority so we need to help them decipher how to prioritize their activities to create less stress in their lives.
  3. Promote exercise and avoid caffeine: Exercise is a great stress buster because of the neurotransmitters it releases in the body. Because of all of the activities a teen ends up doing a day, they become sleep deprived. To "wake" them up, many teens drink caffeinated drinks (certain sodas and coffee) which actually causes them to become more excitable leading to more stress. Encourage non-caffeinated drinks as much as possible.
  4. Discuss perceived ongoing stress vs, what's real- We can't blame the influx of hormones during this time on everything, but the truth is, these higher levels of hormones in the bloodstream do create more intensity around emotions. They don't, for example, create the situation on what makes them angry or unhappy, they just intensify the feeling range of them. It's like turning the volume button up to full strength. At the same time, their brains are creating thousands of thoughts, most of them that aren't true, but to them it feels like truth until we help them question the validity of their thoughts. Teach them to ask the question "Is that thought really true?" Are you 100% absolutely sure it's true? By helping them deal with perceived stress filled thoughts verses what is really true, will help them cut down on these stressful thoughts.
  5. Let go of the judgment and be loving: With a teen, there is a fine line between you telling them something that you perceive is constructive for their own well-being, and their feeling that you are judging them. We need to as parents learn to be less judgmental and more accepting with our teenage children. We can't fix all of their problems even though at times we'd like to. Being loving is being that supportive person in their lives, even though at times, it feels like they don't appreciate or want our help. The bottom line is, eventually, most teens will see the light at the end of the tunnel and will appreciate that you hung in there with them.




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