Teens become stressed much in the same way that adults do. They have too much to do, expectations they need to live up to and issues they have to face. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Stress can be a great motivator and is often the reason adults get things done. So, it can be a positive force in one’s life. But there are times when stress can become temporarily overwhelming for a teenager.
For example, at the end of the school year when they are looking for a summer job, knowing they are going to miss their friends because they won’t be seeing them every day and they have to take finals in each of their classes. That is an amazing amount of things weighing on your teen all at the same time. But it is a temporary situation that will work itself out one way or the other. Our job as the parent is to help our teens not allow their stress to overtake they sensibilities so much that there are negative consequences.
Play active games or do physical activities together. Exercise, being active and physical, helps relieve stress. If your teen is used to playing a game of basketball or going for a hike with you, you can suggest this activity to your teen when they are stressed out and it won’t seem contrived or weird.
Give them a break on their chores. Often, one less thing to do will relieve a teenager’s stress. If your teen usually takes out the trash on Tuesday nights but is studying for his final on Wednesday morning, take it out for them. Just be sure to let them know it is a onetime favor as you appreciate they are working hard on their studies.
Help them with their time management. While they are in the midst of their stressed out crisis, or just before if you are lucky, you can do a little organizing of what you teen needs to do and when. Print out a calendar and write it all out – or have your teen write it out. Seeing it down on paper may help to defuse some of the stress because the tasks should look more manageable. If not, you will still be able to see which tasks can be switched up or deleted totally. Added tip: If your teen is a school athlete, always have them schedule a study hall for the semester. This really helps tone down stress when they have late night games and no other time to get homework completed.
Encourage your teen to relax and get some sleep. Stress is magnified in those who have not had their healthy share of sleep the night before – or have been sleep deprived for a longer time. You can simply remind your teen to start their bedtime routine or cut off their caffeine intake before dinner time. You may also want to make a no computer or phone time rule during sleep hours. Added tip: Does your teen know how to use deep breathing to relax? That is an exercise that all teens can benefit from probably every day.
Be available to talk or do something. If your teen needs a foot or back rub, you can be there for them. Or, if they need to vent about a grade or teacher, you can listen. Beyond the positive aspects of doing these things with you, you are showing your teen that they have a strong support system in place where they can trust you will be there for them. That will help them to be less stressed.
Be sure to follow up on this stressful time with your teen by talking to them about how well they handled it. Point out the good things they did and ask your teen if there is something they might try differently next time. Helping teens reduce their stress levels when they are stressed out because of friends, school, work, etc. will help them be successful in the tasks they need to complete while they are feeling stressed out. This is a good cycle for your teen to learn.