10 Ways to help Teens manage stress
Long gone are the days of living a care free lifestyle as a teenager. Teens are definitely experiencing more stress than previous generations. This article has been written to help teens manage stress (and their parents).
Since the emergence of varying social media accounts and exposure, pressures imposed by society and peers, challenges faced in schools to perform to a higher standard every year and deciding what they want to do with their lives, teenagers appear to be experiencing higher levels of stress, anxiety, depression and self-harm than ever before. According to The Association for Young People’s Health Key Data on Young People 2019, mental health problems in young people in England from 1999 to 2017 rose proportionally by 19% for 11-15 year olds (www.youngpeopleshealth.org.uk).
Let’s face it, we’re all stressed, and our teenagers are no exception. So how can parents help their teens manage stress? Here are ten suggestions you can use to help you support your teen to manage their stress levels.
1. Spend time together.
Try to set some protected time alone with you and your teen each week to do something together. It could be watching a film together, going out the shops cooking a meal together or playing a game. Even if your teen does not accept the offer, they will appreciate that you have made the effort to spend time with them.
2. Lend a listening ear.
Getting teens to open up is often not an easy task but listening openly to your teen’s concerns and feelings will reassure them that it is okay for them to talk to you without fear of judgment. Ask open questions but try not to make it feel like they are being interrogated. Try not to interrupt or cut them off as they may make them shut down. Using open communication may help make your teen more willing to discuss their stress with you. Share your own experiences with them to make the stresses feel more relatable. Be sure to share positive thoughts.
3. Be a good role model for your teen.
Whether teens like to admit it or not, they are still looking up to you and learning from you. How you manage your own stress sets the example for your teen so you need to be modelling healthy behaviour and stress management techniques in front of them.
4. Help your teen to determine what’s within his control and what isn’t.
Teens today are often involved in multiple activities especially if it is something they enjoy. Sometimes, even when extracurricular activities are proven to help their overall functioning, it can be overwhelming. Discuss with your teen about how they can pace themselves by identifying which activities are more helpful to them and which ones could be dropped. This can help take some of the pressure off and make room for necessary free time which can encourage more brain reliving stress management activities.
5. Get back to basics and develop an agreeable routine.
There is a possibility that your teen may have been stressed for longer periods of time than you are aware of and as a result, has developed some poor lifestyle habits. Develop a routine with your teen which is consistent; for example sleep routine (aiming to get between 7-8 hours of sleep every night), reducing time on their mobile phones and social media exposure, eating regular healthy meals and snacks throughout the day and exercise for 30 minutes every day. These healthy lifestyles can have an impact on your teens ability to manage stress more effectively.
6. Coach your teen to use positive and calming ‘self-talk’.
If your teen is able to recognise when they are feeling stressed about a situation, encourage them to have a collection of statements they can use to manage stressful situations. The use of positive and calming self-talk statements can reassure them that the situation is manageable. Examples may be ‘Stop and breathe’, ‘I can do this’, ‘This will pass’, ‘I am safe’ and ‘This won’t last forever’.
7. Teach work management skills.
Teach your teen some basic ways to manage tasks, such as making lists or breaking larger tasks into smaller ones and doing one piece at a time. A technique suggested to help individuals with low attention span and ADHD symptoms, is the ‘Pomodoro Technique’.
Work for 25 minutes (Focused work)
Take 5 minute break
Repeat 4 times (25 minutes of focused work then 5 minute break)
Then take a longer break of 15 – 20 minutes.
8. DO NOT demand perfection.
None of us does everything perfectly. Expecting perfection from your teen is unrealistic and just adds stress. Encourage them to do things to the best of their ability and praise them when they achieve something or have done something they are proud of.
9. DO NOT try to solve your teenager’s problems.
As a parent, it is hard to see your child under stress and you will naturally want to try and solve their issues. Try to resist solving your teen’s problems and instead, work together to brainstorm solutions and let your teen come up with ideas. Using this approach helps teens learn to tackle stressful situations on their own and give them a sense of autonomy and ownership.
10. Use self – help support and guidance.
There are many online websites which offer guidance and exercises which may help your teen manage their stress. This is something you can do together so that is not overwhelming or adding more stress on to your teen. If your teen is not managing well and you feel that they may need more professional support, then contact My Family Psychologist as we provide services to individuals, parents and families to manage a range of psychological issues including stress management, anxiety, depression and self-esteem.
It is important to be realistic that it is impossible to eliminate stress completely, however, we can help teens manage stress effectively with the right techniques. It will be a case of finding something which works for your teen which may take time, but when you find something that works, encourage your teen positively and offer support. Finding a happy medium of stress is the best way to move forward whilst promoting a healthy body and mind.