Stressful events for teens can be something as personal as a fight with parents or as global as the destruction of the World Trade Center. Things that most adults would call minor problems may be a big deal for adolescents, causing serious stress, anxiety, and even depression. It can be difficult for parents to anticipate which situations will stress their teenager the most, but it helps to know some situations that commonly cause teenage stress.
The Heartache after a Break-Up
Remember how thrilling that first romance was, and how devastating it was when it came to an end? Break-ups are one of the most stressful events. Romantic relationships between teenagers are notoriously intense and many teens haven't sorted out their own identity enough to form a healthy connection with someone else. Teens tend to become very involved with a girlfriend or boyfriend and may integrate their relationship into their concept of themselves. When the relationship ends, teens may feel like they've lost part of their identity.
To help a teen who is struggling with a break-up, try simply being there for him/her. Teens may not want to discuss the relationship or the break-up, and they may want to be left alone. Let the teen know that the door is always open for a discussion and after he or she has had some time to grieve, make sure to discuss the need to continue with the routines of daily living.
If a teen does not seem to be getting better after a couple of weeks, seek professional counseling. A therapist will be able to spot signs of clinical depression, and help the teen sort out his or her feelings about the relationship and its end.
Pressures of School
High school is a difficult time for many kids and there are many stressful situations than can come up at school. The pressure is on to perform well academically, as well as to make major decisions about the future. Apart from the academic pressure, teens are expected to fit in with their peers and to be successful socially. They have to make decisions about how they will do this.
Teens have to make decisions about what group of people they identify with, trying drugs and alcohol, and even starting or not starting sexual activity. Teens who are ostracized socially may be harassed or bullied both verbally and physically, and bullying can be a major source of stress.
Stressful Events for Teens: The Importance of Support at Home
Parents can help overcome stressful events for teens by keeping home life structured and consistent, with attention paid to basics like getting enough sleep, eating nutritious food, and maintaining a clean and safe environment. Teenagers may be bigger physically, but they still require careful and thoughtful parenting.
Teach teens how to manage their time effectively, and emphasize the importance of studying daily by providing a time and a place for homework. Stay or become involved at school. Don't miss parent-teacher conferences, and help out with clubs or sports teams as is appropriate.
Encourage teens to develop interests that aren't academic, but don't pressure a teen to be involved in too many activities. Everyone needs free time and time to relax, especially busy teenagers. Most of all, don't stop supervising kids once they become teenagers. Kids do need some freedom, but they also need to know that mom and dad are still watching.
Professional Help and Stress Management
Teens need support from their parents to cope with stressful situations. Parents should try to make home a safe and peaceful place for their teenagers to be. Parents of kids who are in severe distress or who are exhibiting symptoms of depression need to seek professional help from a therapist, psychiatrist, or family doctor.
Parents need to take their teen's stress seriously, and help them find positive ways to relieve stress. The teen years are not a time to stop parenting, but a time to be proactive in guiding teenagers through the stressful adolescent period into adulthood. .