Parents are sometimes unsure of the pressures teenagers face. The idea that stress may be part of their teenagerís lives can come as a surprise. When adults are busy in their own lives, having to face the realisation that stress has now become part of their childrenís lives can be daunting.
One personís drama is another personís walk in the park. Situations that will leave one teenager feeling full of angst may not have any determent effect on their siblings or friends.
Stress is natureís way of preparing for a challenge, fight or flight is an inborn way of reacting to situations. Stress does not necessarily arise over immediate events. It can be long term
Teenage years are about learning how to live life. Teenagers begin to encounter a growing array of situations, which are new, exciting and sometimes challenging. They are forming their own opinions, looking to their future ambitions and developing friendships.
Some areas of their lives are going to be stressful. In essence, they are exploring their own identity; they may be finding their teenage years a series of mental and physical challenges.
Teenagers are unable to estimate the impact of stress; they are unable to take on board the mental consequences of stress.
They negate the feelings of sadness, irritability, they may not associate crying or feeling down with levels of stress in their lives.
Peer pressure can have a real effect on teenagers, schoolwork, body changes, pressures from the media and social networking, long with a whole host of other situations can be puzzling.
Parents have the task of helping teenagers navigate the hurricane years. So try to keep a watchful eye, look out for a whole range of different signals. Some of these will include a shortness of temper, not eating, finding schoolwork difficult, no interest in hobbies, and difficulty in forming friendships. Keeping themselves in their rooms, slamming doors, shouting, the list can be endless. You have to be alert to any changes. Please remember stress is a real experience that will manifest eventually with all teenagers.
Teenagers are developing their individual life plans but you are their parent, they will develop their personalities,you will feel as if they have become aliens. Do not lose sight of the fact you have a loving bond and they may be depending on you to steer them through the stress of the teenage years.
Teenagers learn, in the main how to handle stress by parent/carers. A ranting parent may produce a ranting teenager. A parent who has remained calm, worked through different situations with a problem solving mind, or has given the message, 'life is hard but this is how we handle difficulties' has given a good blueprint.
The first stage of handling stress is emotional, how they react to any situation will give a clue as to their emotional maturity. Please remember that when they were babies we expected them to achieve milestones within a range and stage. This is also true of teenagers. The emotional stage will be difficult; they could be unsure how to handle the battering of new emotions they are facing.
In handling stress in an emotional manner, teenagers may become deceitful, enter into denial or exaggerate situations. They are doing this because they have not found problem focused solutions. They are using a defence mechanism rather than a strategy. As they develop coping strategies, their mechanisms turn to behavioural patterns. They are maturing their ability to handle stressors.
If you notice, your teenager becoming stressed then help is at hand. You are their first port of call, you may not have all the answers but you will know someone who does!
*Notice your teenager; engage with them, if you are worried they about their eating, or sleeping habits or their health is at risk seek help.
*Keep communication open, I say to parents you need time to be you, but remember if they need to speak to you even if you have just run a hot bubble bath, listen, sometimes teenagers will not find the courage to try to talk again.
*Teenagers may not be able to talk to parents, for a whole variety of reasons. Recognise their embarrassment or need to grow away from you. Begin conversations by recognising their needs.
*Do not minimise their concerns, do not speak in a disparaging manner, mock or talk down to them. If they have found the courage to talk, please be respectful, recognise their stress, become encouraging, tell them you are there to help and that there has not been a problem invented that does not have a solution.
*Remember that you are their first tutors. How you handle life, the skills you have nurtured your teenagers. They have to mature to do life differently. If you are calm, you will display a good pathway for them to follow.
*Encourage your teenager not to be a loner, taking part in activities especially sports can be a good stress elevator. Teenagers need to talk, form strong peer bonds, feel part of a social network. Sport can help with stress, if sport is not their cup of tea, dancing, walking the dog, and swimming, anything that encourages movement is a help.
Stress can isolate, if they will not talk to you the parent ensure there is a significant other or a friend they can confide.
Remember that stress happens to many people. Finding solutions and developing coping mechanisms is the key to living with stress successfully.