As long as we are alive we have stress. Kids and teens are as likely to experience intense stress as are adults. Some parents falsely assume that if their child does not have bills to pay or chores and responsibilities that their child is living a stress-free life.
This assumption is incorrect. Teen stressors appear inconsequential to parents only because they’re looking at these problems with an adult mind. Teens, however, are getting a hang of handling life issues (these early life experiences are preparing them for future matters) and these topics are important to them. Naturally, uncertainties will lead to a certain amount of stress.
To help your teen deal with stress, it will be helpful if you know about the common causes of stress. For those teens that are unable to identify the cause, you can have a starting point for the investigation.
Five common stressors for teens include:
1. School: People have different learning styles, interests, and strengths. Unfortunately, school is a standard structure that doesn’t take these differences into consideration. When the school doesn’t embrace the teens’ strengths, values or creativity they tend to be more stressed out.
2. Parents: Parents and home environment can also add to teen stress.
a. High expectations are a big stress for children. Out of love, parents want teens to succeed in everything. While this idea is nice, it’s really an unrealistic expectation.
b. After school activities are important but become a stressor if parents expect their teens to be involved in too many (even if it’s of their choosing). It’s important for teens to have some free, unscheduled time each week where they can do whatever they want. During this time she has the opportunity to relax as well as learn she deserves to have some free time. It’s a good habit to develop
c. Stressed parents can transfer their stress on to their teens. If you are frequently stressed, it’s reflected in how you treat your teen. Your unpredictable behaviour may leave her worried and anxious since she doesn’t know what to expect next. Likewise, if you are emotionally unavailable for her, she may feel neglected and worthless. These feelings increase stress levels as she tries to get your attention, only to fail each time.
3. Peer group: Peer pressure, not getting along with friends, and worrying about fitting in causes stress. The peer group is an important part of a teen’s life. If she
senses the peer group is unreliable or disrespectful, it will increase her stress levels as she feels pressured to impress her social group.
4. Lack of life skills: Skills such as organization and time management are important stress preventers. Likewise, an absence of these valuable skills can make life more hectic and chaotic. Teen’s habits are normally a reflection of how things are done in the household. As such, it’s unrealistic for parents to expect teens to do better than them. Any other expectations are only a stress producer.
5. Personal thoughts: What kind of thinking does your teen engage in? It’s not too tough to find out. Pay attention to your teen’s actions and words as they’re a reflection of what’s going on inside her head. Instead of criticizing her, provide her with an alternative way of thinking.
Best Wishes To Your Family!
Ivana Pejakovic, Life Coach in Toronto