Teenagers have more on their plates than ever before and an increasingly complicated world to navigate. Teenagerhood is confusing enough even before factoring in the additional pressures of modern life: social media, anxieties around Covid, and self-esteem issues exacerbated by online content can all play their part in making teens stressed.
If you’re the parent of a teenager and are wondering how you can help if they’re struggling or how best to keep them on an even keel, then keep reading for ways to do this – and when to seek further help.
Keeping open the lines of communication is vital. This may seem virtually impossible when the most you get from your teenager is the odd grunt a couple of times a day, but ensuring that they know that you’re there for them and ready to talk about anything and at any time, without judgment, is crucial, whether they choose to take up the offer or not.
If your teen is particularly struggling, in general, or with a specific issue, then counseling could help if they would be open to this. These sessions can help your child to process their thoughts and feelings in a safe environment and, with their therapist, to work out some coping mechanisms and build resilience.
Online therapy could be a great option, especially for teenagers who may feel self-conscious or otherwise reluctant to attend in-person sessions. You may wish to check for online therapy that takes insurance before signing up and ensure that the therapist is specialized and experienced in providing counseling to young people. Depending on your needs, you might like to find a therapy service that’s available 24/7 or that offers a flexible payment plan.
Simply finding a beneficial outlet for your teen can work wonders for their stress levels and help alleviate symptoms of anxiety, too. Work with your child to figure out what might be best; you could encourage them to take a dance class, for example, join a yoga class, or attend weekly creative writing sessions at a local venue.
It’s important not to make your teenager feel pushed into doing anything they’re not sure about, but offer gentle encouragement and be prepared to allow them to try several different activities to find the one that suits them best.
Building a solid support system for your teen starts at home, and, with just a little effort, bonding as a family can help promote better mental health for all of its members.
Make the time to eat dinner together as often as possible, go on a hike every other weekend as a family, or sign up for a fun class. If you’re not sure which activity to choose, try asking your teen what would best help them to unwind and feel supported – you may be surprised at how well they can articulate their needs.
Mindfulness techniques are a powerful tool that you can teach your teen to help them combat feelings of stress and anxiety. At its core, mindfulness is about slowing down, taking the time to be fully in the moment, and noticing and experiencing the good things in our life – the latter can be as simple as savoring a mouthful of delicious food or the feeling of spring sunlight on the nape of our necks.
Encourage your child to incorporate mindfulness into their daily routines and model these techniques, too. A simple mindfulness routine could involve taking three minutes to sit quietly together before leaving for work and school in the morning, looking through the window to notice the clouds passing in the sky. Or writing down, before bed, three things from the day just passed that you are grateful for.
And finally, do what you can to avoid exposing your teenager to unnecessary stress at home. Of course, this isn’t always possible! But if your teen is going through a particularly difficult time and is feeling under pressure with upcoming exams, or their confidence has recently taken a knock, then making the home environment as calm as possible can help.
Anxiety can sometimes present in such a way that it can be mistaken for laziness. If your child is having trouble getting up and about or is more lethargic than usual, then this may not be down to the traditional teen habit of staying in bed for as long as possible. Try to offer gentle encouragement, and resist becoming angry or getting into an argument, however difficult this may seem.
Stress and anxiety can be debilitating and, if untreated, can become a serious problem. If you’re worried about your teenager, or if they’re behaving in a way that’s unusual or causing you concern, then it’s vital to consult with a healthcare professional.
Treatment and support are available, should your teen need it, and should be sought as soon as possible if you think they may be experiencing anxiety, depression, or any other mental health issue.