Life is filled with so much hustle and bustle, regardless of your age! There’s always a lot to do, and sometimes it seems like there is never enough time to fulfill all your responsibilities (in adulthood and otherwise!). The combination of our fast-paced lives, coupled with expectations (at both school and home) can undoubtedly lead to mental and physical stress.
While stress isn’t always something we associated with children—even our teen children—it is something they deal with on a daily basis. As a parent, finding ways to help your teen manage stress and creating a safe space at home to help them process their emotions can be a game-changer (and lessen long-term depression and anxiety, too!).
Here are some suggestions to help:
1. Encourage Stress-Relieving Techniques
With all your teen may be juggling, taking a break to relax may not seem like a priority (or even an option). While being busy may seem like a good thing, at least from the start, it’s important to create time for rest, too. Even if your child is a ‘go-getter’ maintaining a healthy balance is essential for life!
It is important to teach and encourage your child to take breaks. Help them find and engage in stress-relieving activities such as reading, playing games, social time, etc. which will help them create a natural, healthy mix of school and play. You can also consider implementing the DBT accepts approach, which focuses on mindful ways to ‘distract’ from the challenges of everyday life. The ACCEPTS stands for: Activities, Contribute, Compare, Emotions, Pushing Away, Thoughts, & Sensations. By focusing on these different areas you can help your teen manage school-related stress and feel more confident and calm.
2. Combat The Stress Together
Sometimes, your child may be experiencing stress but cannot identify the main cause. You can help them by breaking down their challenges and talking through their emotions around different situations. Create a list of school activities and ask your teen how they feel about each one. Typically, the one(s) they react to negatively are those that may be causing them some unneeded pressure. Once you’ve identified the cause of stress, you can help them find better ways of dealing with it. For instance, if your child is worried about an upcoming test, you can guide them in creating a study plan to ensure they’re well prepared.
3. Encourage Healthy Living
Your children’s lifestyle plays a role in their ability to handle the stress they encounter at school. One way of promoting health for your teen is by watching their diet. Research shows eating healthy foods, specifically ones containing Omega-3 fats, for example, can help manage stress as they help manage the body’s cortisol levels. Additionally, eating well will keep your teen energized, making it easy to cope with stressful situations.
You should also encourage good sleeping habits and outdoor and physical activity, too. Making sure that your teen has adequate sleep each night can lead to more rational thinking (as opposed to heightened emotions). Moving their bodies, too, whether through organized sports or even something simple, like walking through the park, can help to rebalance and promote long-term positive habits.
4. Be A Role Model
You may not realize, but honestly, your child picks up many things you do! This is because children usually learn from their immediate surroundings (even teens. . . and even when they don’t want to admit it!). That being said, help your teen manage by showing them what you do.
Start by being mindful of the moments you’re stressed. Instead of holding back or using unhealthy coping mechanisms, open up about your emotions. Or, engage in activities that may make you feel better and bring your child(ren) along! When your teen sees how you manage stress, they will copy. This is a win-win situation because you are also encouraged to manage your stress appropriately.