If you’re the parent of a teen, you’re probably under some form of stress, different from the teenage stress exhibited by your child.
You have to work all day or run the household (or both), pay the bills, maintain your relationship with your spouse or partner if you have one, keep up with your teen’s needs, activities, grades, and behavior, work in quality time with your child or children and also try to factor in some sort of social life or personal time for yourself.
That’s a lot. Comparatively, it might seem like your teenager has it pretty easy. But it’s fairly easy for adults to forget just how stressful being a teenager can be.
Your teen may be experiencing more stress than you know about.
What Teenage Stress Might My Child Face?
Teenagers have a lot going on.
They’re under pressure to excel in school – even if you try not to put undue pressure on them, children are told from an early age how important education is to their future, and the closer they get to the end of high school, the more they realize how competitive colleges and job markets can be and the more pressure they feel to measure up to the requirements they’ll have to meet to be competitive.
They also face a variety of social pressures, from dating situations to friend group drama. On top of that, many students are involved in sports or activities that can cause teenage stress.
Some teens even have jobs of their own, and the job stress that goes with it. And that’s not even taking into account the difficulty of living in a teenaged body that’s growing and changing rapidly, sometimes in ways that are unexpected or feel unpleasant.
Your teen is dealing with a lot too, and they may not have the kind of knowledge and life experience that can help them manage stress in healthy ways. It’s important to help your child learn how to effectively manage the teenage stress they feel.
Take a look at some tips that can help.
Make Sure Your Teenager Gets Enough Sleep
Feeling overtired makes everything seem worse, including stress. Plus, when you’re tired, it’s difficult to think clearly, which makes it difficult to manage stress effectively.
Teenagers need sleep as much as anyone does – and in fact, during the teen years, they actually need more sleep than they do during some of the other stages of life.
However, getting enough sleep can be rough for a teenager. While not all teens are night owls, it’s normal for teens to want to stay up later at night and sleep in until later in the morning than they previously did.
This isn’t because they want to be out late at night (or it’s not only because of that) it’s because their circadian rhythms have changed, making it more difficult for them to fall asleep as early as they used to and more difficult for them to get up very early in the morning.
This makes it hard for teens to get enough sleep, even if their schedule isn’t otherwise cutting into a healthy amount of sleep. School hours alone can dictate that your teen needs to go to bed before they feel sleepy and wake up too early in the morning.
Some schools are beginning to realize that teens do better with a later start and are changing their hours accordingly, and if a school with later hours is an option for your teen, it’s worth looking into.
How Can My Teen Generate A Good Night’s Sleep?
If you can’t give your teen the option of waking up later in the day, you can help them get more sleep by encouraging them to get things ready for the morning ahead of time like:
- Setting out their school clothes
- Backpack is packed and ready to go
- Lunch is packed, and something like overnight oats in the fridge ready to eat for breakfast
You can also make sure that your teen is practicing good sleep hygiene:
- Turning off electronic devices at night
- Sleeping in a cool, quiet, dark room
- Sleeping on a comfortable and supportive mattress
- Changing their bedding regularly.
This can at least help them get more quality, restful sleep.
Help Your Teen Get Enough Exercise
Physical activity is essential for good health, and it’s also a proven stress-buster.
Exercise releases endorphins – chemicals that boost the mood and promote happiness. It’s easy for teens to get stuck in a pattern of not getting enough physical activity – they spend hours every day at a desk in school or while doing homework, then relax by playing video games or scrolling through social media on their phone, for example.
Your teen doesn’t have to become a track star if they hate running, of course, but you can encourage and support them in finding and engaging in a physical activity they enjoy – swimming, biking, hiking, ice skating, or even just taking a daily walk.
They’ll be less stressed and healthier as well.
Encourage Healthy Communication
Teens sometimes shy away from talking about the things that are stressing them out, at least with their parents or other adults.
They may do this for any number of reasons – maybe they don’t want to add to your stress, maybe they’re embarrassed about something or worry about getting into trouble, or maybe they’re just not sure an adult will understand.
It’s important for your teen to be able to communicate with adults, though, especially when they’re feeling stressed about something.
There’s no one conversation that you can have with your teen that will prompt them to tell you everything they’re feeling – you need to foster a culture of open communication at home. That means regular talks about what happened that day, how your teen is feeling, what’s happening in their social life as well as what’s happening in their academic life or at home.
It’s also important to make sure that your teen has other trusted adults in their lives besides you – even teens who have great relationships with their parents don’t always approach their parents with a problem first, and it’s important for them to have other outlets.
Finally, it’s important to be open to helping your teen arrange for counseling or therapy if they’re experiencing severe stress or other mental health problems. You can’t solve all of your teen’s problems on your own, and it’s crucial to know when to bring in professional help.
Managing teenage stress isn’t always easy, but it’s part of being a parent.
Take the time to consider the kind of stress that your teen might be dealing with and make sure that you’re attentive to that.
Commonly Asked Questions
What Are the Most Common Causes of Teenage Stress?
Teenagers are under pressure to excel in school, they face a variety of social pressures from dating situations to friend group drama, many students are involved in sports or activities that can cause teenage stress, some teens have jobs of their own, and that’s not taking into account the difficulty of living in a teenaged body that’s growing and changing rapidly.
How Can My Teen Generate Healthy Sleeping Patterns?
Encourage your teen to get things ready for the morning ahead of time like packing their backpack and lunch, laying out an outfit, and preparing a quick breakfast the night prior.
Also, promoting good sleep hygiene, from turning off electronic devices to regularly changing bedding, is another way to generate quality, restful sleep.
Will Communicating With My Teen Ease Their Stress Levels?
Yes. It’s important for your teen to be able to communicate with adults, especially when they’re feeling stressed about something.
Fostering a culture of open communication creates multiple opportunities for your teenager to get whatever it is they need to off of their chest.
Dr. Nalin is a Licensed Clinical Psychologist, and Founder and Executive Director of Paradigm Treatment Centers, who has been a respected leader in the field of adolescent mental health for more than 20 years. He received his undergraduate degree from the University of Southern California, his Master’s degree from Loyola Marymount University, his Doctoral degree from Pacific University’s APA approved Clinical Psychology program, and completed his training at the University of California, San Diego’s APA approved psychology internship program.
Dr. Nalin has provided training and mentoring to students entering the field of psychology at institutions of learning including Pepperdine University’s Graduate School of Education and Psychology, UCSD, Pacific University, and Santa Monica College. He was also instrumental in the development of the treatment component of Los Angeles County’s first Juvenile Drug Court, which now serves as a national model.
Dr. Nalin has appeared as an expert on shows ranging from CBS News and Larry King, to CNN, The Today Show and MTV. He was also featured in an Anti-Drug Campaign for the Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP).
Dr. Nalin is a Diplomate of the National Institute of Sports Professionals and a Certified Sports Psychologist as well as a Certified Chemical Dependency Intervention Specialist. He lectures and conducts workshops nationally on the issues of teen mental health, substance abuse prevention, and innovative adolescence treatment.
In 2017 Dr. Nalin was awarded The Sigmund Freud Foundation and Sigmund Freud University’s Distinguished Achievement Award in recognition of his work with youth in the field of mental health over the course of his career.