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How to handle your stressed teen?

Jun 30, 2021
By Ayah Sarhan – Certified Parent Effectiveness Training (PET) Instructor & Coach

'There is a lot of stress that a teens needs to cope with to be able to safely grow into a well-functioning adult. The article outlines some signs and makes some suggestions for parents on handling this phase in their child's life.' 

Adolescence is one of those sensitive transitions in a child's life; their bodies are changing so are their perceptions of self and others. There is a lot of stress that a teenager needs to cope with to be able to safely grow into a well-functioning adult. 

Stress can be positive if it acts as a motivation for growth and self development; however, excessive stress levels can have negative effects. There are some warning signs that stress is getting out of control such as:

Change in eating or sleeping patterns or loss of appetite

Disturbed relationships with you or siblings or friends

Impulsiveness/Aggressiveness that may lead to harming oneself or others

Loss of interest in a hobby or sport

Anger from trivial upsets (outbursts)

Nagging or withdrawal or avoidance contrary to their normal behaviour

Declined academic performance 

Here are some suggestions to handle your teenager and help him/her regain control and reduce stress from overdrive to an optimal level: 

  • Change is the only constant during adolescence, so give them space and appropriate opportunities to grow while keeping an eye just in case they asked for your love and support. It could be opportunities for your child to socialize with others through their shared interest, hobbies, outings, or simply allow for social gathering at your home or the house of a trusted friend.  
  • Acknowledge their trials to support or help others or even you, or their effort towards realizing a certain goal. 
  • Avoid setting certain expectations that would pressure them or push them towards a goal that they are not interested in, instead listen to their dream goals. Sometimes it is hard to understand their world given the increased exposure and pace of change things are happening with, but it makes them happy to know that you are interested and willing to listen and understand what they are experiencing. 
  • The world is becoming more open and your child is probably being bombarded by tons of information and values; some of which maybe very different than what they know and were raised up on. They may be trying things to check them out and see for themselves how and why they are different, especially if their close friends are adopting those values. Hang in there and be patient, your disapproval may make things worse so just keep an eye and offer your support whenever you are asked to. 
  • Adolescents are developing their thinking capacities; they are exploring and looking for ways to demonstrate their ability to be looked to as adults who can exercise their autonomy. It is normal to feel anxious or worried about that and it can be difficult to resist the urge to jump in and direct them given your experience and wisdom. Be careful that you may be putting an extra load on yourself having to correct everything they do or say. 
  • Make sure to strike a balance. Overprotection can prevent them from learning by themselves and becoming independent and responsible. Also, leaving them totally without checking up on them may give them a message that you don't care enough or don't love them anymore given how they are changing. 
  • Parents are also happy with how their teens develop during and after attending the Youth Effectiveness Training, which provides an opportunity for youth to develop their social and emotional competence.

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