Discover practical and emotional ways to support a stressed teen…
It can be difficult to work out how best to support your teenager when they’re going through a stressful time. Things seemed so much simpler when they were a toddler, didn’t they? If they fell and hurt themselves, you picked them up, applied a plaster and kissed their sadness and pain away. But, of course, children grow and mature, become more independent and face increasing responsibilities and pressure at school, in the home, with friends, and at work. Now you’re dealing with a young adult who is carrying far more complex issues than a hurt knee or a lost toy – they’re coping with stresses that can’t be ‘fixed’ with a loving kiss and a jolly plaster. We’re here to help with 10 ways to support your stressed teen:
1. FRAZZLE FACTORS
Help your teen work out why they are feeling so stressed. Is it a problem in school? A looming exam? A fall-out with a friend? Work together to identify the ‘frazzle factors’ – basically, the stuff that’s keeping your teen up at night and making them feel so anxious. Get a piece of paper and write them all down.
Let your teen talk it out and listen carefully. Talking about their problems can help them to relieve some of the stress. Giving your teenager your full attention makes them feel validated and supported. Avoid the urge to interrupt and give them space to vent for as long as they need to. For more help on how to really hear your teen, click here.
3. ONE THING AT A TIME
Go back to your teen’s frazzle factor list and take one problem at a time. Talk over possible solutions, suggest ways in which you or others can help and discuss steps your teen can take to reduce the pressure of the situation.
4. MAKE A PLAN
Once you’ve identified possible solutions and workarounds, decide how to tackle them, one by one. For example, if school is a big stress factor, this might involve making a study timetable, talking to a teacher about reducing homework, or hiring a tutor for extra tuition in the run-up to an exam. Having a plan in place will help to reduce your teen’s anxieties.
A simple hug can make someone feel a whole lot better. If your child doesn’t like physical affection, you can be just as comforting with your words. Saying “I can see that’s made you feel very upset and I want to help you” shows how much you love and care for them.
Talk to your teen about ways to reduce their anxieties and encourage them to make their mental health a priority. Whether it’s meditation, a walk outdoors in the fresh air or a warm, relaxing bath, there are lots of ways for your teen to take some downtime to calm their anxieties. There are many apps available to guide your teen through different ways to relax – you can find our five best picks here.
7. STRESS-BUSTER STRATEGIES
Teach your teen a few stress-busting strategies. Grounding techniques help your teen connect to the here and now when they feel overwhelmed by feelings of stress, panic and anxiety. Discover 25 grounding techniques here.
A lack of good-quality sleep can make it harder for your teen to deal with stress. Encourage your teen to ditch the screens a few hours before bedtime as blue light can interfere with drifting off to sleep and suggest trying a sleep app or podcast to fall asleep to. Read more about encouraging healthier sleep patterns here.
Stress can affect appetite, meaning your teen may be eating more or less than they would normally. Keep an eye on what they’re eating and try to ensure they’re getting plenty of nutritious food. Little and often could be the key if your teen is finding it difficult to manage a full meal. If you’re at all worried about your teenager’s diet, make an appointment with your GP to discuss your concerns. Click here to read more about your teenager’s diet.
10. SEEK SUPPORT
Don’t be afraid to reach out for professional help if you need to. You could suggest your teenager makes an appointment with the doctor and offer to go along with them, or you might encourage them to ask for help at school. There’s a world of support out there for your teen – and for you.