Stress is a normal part of life and is often a difficult experience for teens, who are often dealing with difficult decisions, social pressures, and other challenges. Although it is important for teens to learn how to manage stress in healthy ways, it is also important for parents to be aware of the signs of stress in their teens and to understand how to best respond and help.
Signs of Stress in Teens
- Physical Symptoms: Many physical symptoms can be indicators of stress. Changes in appetite, sleep, energy level, and mood can all be signs that your teen is struggling with stress. Additionally, teens may be more prone to headaches, stomachaches, aches and pains, and other physical issues when stressed.
- Emotional Symptoms: Your teen may experience emotional outbursts, such as crying, anger, or frustration, when they are feeling overwhelmed by stress. Additionally, depressed or anxious moods can be signs of stress.
- Behavioral Changes: Stress can lead to changes in behaviors, such as lack of concentration, difficulty focusing, withdrawal from activities and friends, or aggressive behaviors.
- Performance Changes: Teens may struggle with schoolwork and experience difficulty concentrating or staying on task. This may be especially noticeable in teens who are normally high achievers.
- Substance Use: Teens may turn to alcohol, drugs, or other substances as a way to cope with stress.
- Avoidance: Teens may avoid certain situations or tasks if they are feeling overwhelmed. This could be in the form of procrastination or refusing to engage in activities that are otherwise important to them.
- Self-Harm: It’s important to be aware of any signs of self-harm, such as cutting, which can be an indicator of stress.
How to Respond to Stress in Teens
It is important to remember that responding to stress in teens can be tricky and will vary depending on the situation and the individual. Here are some strategies to keep in mind when dealing with stress in teens:
- Acknowledge the Stress: Recognize and validate your teen’s feelings by acknowledging the stress they are going through. This can be as simple as saying, “I understand that this is a tough time, and I am here to help.”
- Help Them Develop Positive Coping Strategies: Help your teen develop positive ways to manage stress, such as spending time with friends, exercising, journaling, or taking deep breaths.
- Connect with Others: Encourage your teen to connect with their peers, mentors, or role models. This can provide a safe space for them to talk about their feelings and develop healthy coping mechanisms.
- Communicate: Have an open dialogue with your teen about their stress and how you can help. Ask them questions and let them speak freely, being sure to listen without judgment.
- Seek Professional Help: If stress seems to be a major factor in your teen’s life, seek professional help. Through counseling and working with the best psychotherapists in your area, your teen can learn how to better manage their stress and find long-term solutions.
Stress is an inevitable part of life and is often especially difficult for teens, who may be trying to manage difficult decisions and social pressures. Parents can play an important role in supporting their teen by acknowledging the stress they are going through and helping them to develop positive coping strategies. Additionally, seeking professional help can be beneficial if stress is a major factor in their life.
Dealing with stress is a challenge that each of us must face at some point in our lives. But with help from a professional like Sarah J. Person, LCSW-R, you can arm your teen with the tools they need to better manage their stress and lead a more fulfilling and well-balanced life. Sarah is trained in EMDR therapy as well as other evidence-based techniques that can help your teen cope with stress, anxiety, and other mental health challenges. Contact Sarah today for a free phone consultation and learn how she can help your teen.