Model healthy coping strategies.
Adolescents need to see adults they admire handling anger, disappointment, anxiety, boredom, and other uncomfortable feelings in healthy ways.
Learn to de-escalate stressful situations.
Teens do much better when the adults in their lives know how to stay calm and can tell when youth have calmed down enough to problem-solve.
In engineering, strength is measured as the amount of stress a material can take without deforming or breaking; resiliency is its capacity to hold or recover its shape.… Concrete piers beneath a bridge possess a strength that enables the bridge to bear a load of cars. By analogy, I am in possession of internal forces—actual stuff inside—that can be weaker or stronger, and more or less able to handle pressure.” —Source: blog post by Marilyn McArthur
Talk about it!
You can make a difference in young people’s lives by helping them identify ways to cope with stress and let off steam that are safe and effective for them. Try asking questions like:
What makes you feel stressed? What does stress feel like for you?
Everyone has their own answers to these questions! Recognizing situations that cause stress – for you and for others – can help you understand yourself and take better care of one another.
What gives you strength? What helps you persist?
Bad things happen to everyone, but not everyone is affected in the same ways. Learning about how to increase resilience is a way of preparing for when times are tough.
How do people deal with stress?
Noticing how other people deal with uncomfortable situations and feelings can help spark conversation about making healthy choices and about how damaging stress can be.
What are your stress-free zones?
All people need places where they can relax, feel safe, and recharge. Compare notes about places that have served this purpose at different times in your lives.
Using “Botox Brow” to Communicate with Your Teen or Tween – a 2-minute video about a good strategy for communicating with tweens and teens, by Michelle Icard, the author of
Middle School Makeover.
How stress affects your brain, a TED-Ed Talk by Madhumita Murgia – a 4-minute video on the biology of stress, its effects on the body, and a little bit about antidotes such as exercise and meditation.
Here are some links and articles we’ve selected to help you learn more about this topic.
- High School Stress: What This Teacher (and Mom) Sees — “As parents, we all want the best for our children. … But as a high school teacher, daily I see the burden of parental, societal and high school stress on the faces of my high-achieving students.”
- Five things that can make you a better parent right now – If you can get past the condescending title, this article has some good suggestions.
- What Teens Need Most from Their Parents – ”As adolescents navigate the stormiest years in their development, they need coaching, support, good examples and most of all understanding.”
- 13 Powerful Phrases Proven to Help an Anxious Child Calm Down – This article is written for parents of younger children, but it contains strategies that teens could use for self-talk or that you could adapt for talking with a teen who is feeling stressed out.
- Help Your Kids with Adolescence, is a book that presents lots of practical information in an easy-to-read, highly visual style.
- Teen Stress: What Parents Need to Know – “Research shows that teens feel even more stress than their parents”
- For Teens Knee-Deep In Negativity, Reframing Thoughts Can Help – “Psychological research shows that what we think can have a powerful influence on how we feel emotionally and physically, and on how we behave. Research also shows that our harmful thinking patterns can be changed.”
- ‘When I Was Your Age’ And Other Pitfalls Of Talking To Teens About Stress – Good advice for talking about coping with stress in ways that resonate with teenagers
- Want More Stress in Your Life? Try Parenting a Teenager – This article suggests that parents ought to seek support from other parents, not just about their concerns, but also about their decisions.