The teenage years are a transitional state between being a little kid and an independent adult. It is not an easy time as many adults can tell you. The stresses experienced are very real and can have devastating consequences when they are not addressed.
Each generation has their own unique circumstances. For the older crowd, it was growing up during the World Wars. Then there were the 1960s with the Vietnam and “free love.” In the 80s and 90s, there was AIDS, the Gulf War, and drugs. Now, we have a combination of so many things, it is hard to name them all.
Life is tough for a teen. They are trying to find themselves against the backdrop of society and pressure from their peers. It is no wonder that they experience a high level of stress. If you have a teen, keep an open mind with them.
What are some of the stressors that teens deal with? Knowing where their emotions get most stirred up can help teen and parents understand each other better. Today’s teens deal with issues like:
- Pressures of maintaining good grades and getting into college
- Living up to extremely high expectations from society and family members
- Gang violence
- Drugs and alcohol
- Opposite sex relationships and sexual activity
- The conflict in the Middle East
- The economy
- Violence in school
- Abuses – sexual, physical, mental
- And so much more
Some of the things on this list are familiar. They are stressors that have plagued teens in each generation. One in particular, the economy, is something that parents often dealt with apart from their kids but in the current generation the repercussions of a bad economy have spilled over into the lives of teens. When parents lose jobs and can’t put food on the table or a roof over their family’s head that directly affects our children.
When a child reaches their teens, they begin to change. Some parents would compare them to Linda Blair in The Exorcist, but we’ve all had our turn spitting green pea soup. With no idea how to deal with their feelings, they lash out any way that they can. It could manifest as shouting matches with parents, hanging out with the wrong crowd at school, or sinking into depression.
Each of these situations is a ticking time bomb, so parents have to work to head things off at the pass. There are no hard and fast rules for dealing with a stressed teenager. The main objective is to help them find ways to relieve that stress that won’t compromise their health or their future. Here are a few suggestions:
- Keep the lines of communication open no matter what the subject
- Resist the urge to overreact to negative situations
- Begin an exercise program
- Have family fun time—see a movie, go out for coffee, go shopping
- Talk to a counselor
- Be aware of physical and personality changes in your teen
These stressors don’t affect your teen overnight. By staying close to your teen, you’ll be better able to spot changes that can indicate signs of stress.