Any adult who doubts that teenage stress is a real problem affecting a large number of teenagers, only needs to cast their mind back to their own teenage years and recall their own experiences to realize how prevalent teenage stress is, and how difficult it can be. In recent years, the amount of stress in young people’s lives seems to be increasing, and stress seems to be present in their lives earlier and earlier. Recent survey results show that one third of all teenagers experience stress at least once per week.
Given the near impossibility of determining what normal teenage behavior is, it can be difficult, to say the least, to recognize the onset of teenage stress. The fact that teenagers are particularly reluctant to ask for help, makes it very important to detect the signs, both physical and emotional, of behavior which indicates some form of stress. These can include obvious physical signs such as headaches and nausea, and less obvious, but equally important emotional ones such as feelings of uneaseiness, or not having fun, or even more obvious symptoms like edginess and even anger.
The causes of teenage stress may appear trivial by comparison to the stresses which we experience as adults, which are associated with our responsibilites. However, to teenagers their suffering is very real, and can be very difficult to deal with. The good news is that, with the right encouragement, teenagers’ ability to cope with the stresses in their lives can be improved enormously. The benefits of being able to do so can be far reaching and long lasting, since the habits learned in adolesence carry through well into adult life.
The first thing to learn is how to avoid a build up of stress in the first place, and this can be accomplished by following some simple, yet effective guidelines. These include eating right, getting enough sleep, avoiding drugs, alcohol, tobacco, and excess caffeine. Encouraging teenagers to spend time in activities which they actually enjoy, whether it’s reading, writing, music, or sports, will also allow them to be removed from constant sources of stress, like cell phones, email, IM, texting, and social media. It should also allow them to relax, and prevent both the reality and the perception of their time being over committed.
The more that teenagers realize that there is a support network to help them through their problems, the easier it can be for them to learn how to cope. That way, they can learn to talk openly about the causes of their stress, and as a result, explore potential cures and remedies which might help. Typically, they need to know that adults will keep the lines of communication open, so that they can make use of them when the need arises.
Of course, this need will always arise when you least expect it, and when you are least ready to deal with it. However, that’s when it really matters to be there for them. And, to paraphrase, the 3 rules of dealing with teenage stress for you as an adult can be summarized as: listen, listen, and listen. It’s your opportunity to act as a model for them to emulate, by listening in a way which provides support and encouragement.