Teens are strong, smart and will lead us into the future. They are also facing high levels of stress, according to a 2016 study in pediatrics. The need to succeed and be the best has reshaped the lives of today’s teenagers. Teens are no longer sitting at the kids' table; they are proactive, open and honest about today’s world and want to make a difference.
Family life is full of road trips of activities from dawn to dusk. There is little time to talk with teens except at the occasional family dinner. Book bags are overflowing with homework, sleep is hard to come by and the Internet is their world.
We all want the best for our teenagers, but they are under growing pressure and it is taking a toll on their physical and emotional well-being. An article by the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry points to the following stress factors:
- School demands/frustrations
- Negative thoughts and feelings
- Changes in their bodies
- Family financial concerns
- Problems with friends/peers at school
- Expectations that are too high
As adults, we know it’s not good to overload an electrical outlet with too many plugs, and similarly, teen stress wiring can become overloaded, leading to anxiety, withdrawal, physical illness or poor coping skills. A 2013 survey released by the American Psychological Association shows teen stress rivals that of adults.
Teenage girls may experience major depressive episodes more than boys, according to a study in pediatrics. Research also points to girls using social media more to communicate, which could subject them to negative effects.
Make a Plan to Short-Circuit Stress
- Talk with a healthcare professional to identify concerns and ways to help lower stress for your teen.
- Monitor stress that affects their health, behavior and feelings.
- Listen carefully to your teen and watch for signs of stress.
- Help your teen to create a stress-reducing plan that will guide them to a healthy life.
- Help them to cope by identifying and fixing problems for stronger emotional outcomes.
- Exercise every day to help control stress and help build a strong body.
- Become involved in sports and other social activities.
- Volunteer in your community as a way to give back.
- Practice active relaxation. Breathe deeply and slowly to help reduce stress levels.
- Eat well – good nutrition is key to keeping you alert and your mood steady.
- Get plenty of sleep to keep you focused on home, work and school.
- Learn coping skills – break larger tasks into smaller, more manageable tasks.
- If you find yourself stressed, take a break – listen to music, talk with friends, journal your thoughts.
Reach Out and Research
Be sure to utilize available resources through your local schools, community and healthcare professionals. Resources are available to help guide parents and teens to ensure they are ready to take on the joys of tomorrow and become life leaders.