Help them stop stressing
The hope is that youth is a stress-free time of life. The truth is, it’s not. With the daily demands of school, activities, relationships with friends and family, romantic issues…it can all get overwhelming. In fact, in a survey by the American Psychological Association, adolescents reported stress levels similar to those of adults.
Your de-stressing toolkit
Some degree of stress can actually be beneficial. For example, fear of failing an exam can motivate children and teens to study for it. However, when they’re constantly overwhelmed, worried, or fearful, they can overtax their response system. Showing kids a range of ways to cope will provide them with a toolkit of valuable life skills. Here are some ideas: The Big Three Sleep. Exercise. Diet. Often changing even one of these can have a huge impact on both psychological and physiological wellbeing. Start a conversation around their daily routine and to uncover stress-causing culprits. Proactive. Not reactive. Kids often can’t see the value of planning ahead to avoid threatening situations—which can result in negative reactive behavior. Help them see how being proactive—getting a tutor, being prepared—can minimize daily stress. Recognizing Codes Sometimes the words kids use are code for deeper feelings. Help them recognize their cues for stress. For example, ‘angry’, ‘feeling sick’ or ‘stomachache’ may actually be masking acute stress. Help them understand the differences. Leverage their Strengths Counter negative thoughts they may have about themselves by reminding them of their strengths, talents and special qualities. Help them find ways to apply those assets to the cause of their stress.
What to do
Encourage them to keep close with family, friends, teachers—and you. Remember that everyone’s ability to problem-solve is different—and that cognitive and social capabilities change rapidly during adolescence. Don’t make assumptions about how they’ll react to things. Gather as much information about a problem as possible. Consider different options and points of view for resolving conflict. Walk through upcoming challenging situations. Role-play what might happen—like presenting in front of the class or taking the SAT test.