Note to Readers: The subject of teen stress grabbed my attention when I attended my daughter’s High School orientation. The principal bragged to us that “This would be our teens most stressful year ever!” As a mom and stress expert,I was concerned for the wellness of the students and wanted my own children to be prepared emotionally to handle such an onslaught of stress. I decided to create Indigo Teen Dreams CD to introduce teenagers to stress management techniques. I met Ronae on twitter and was inspired by her hope filled tweets and tips. A big thank you to Ronae for sharing her practical tools and tips to help teens reduce stress while maintaining parenting sanity. Enjoy!
by Ronae Jull
Today’s teenagers are inundated with an overload of information, expectations, and input. They’re more connected globally than ever before, while still being unsure of how to effectively manage close personal relationships. They may have a Facebook account, but not have much practice in having healthy one-on-one conversations. You may battle with them over putting down their cell phones, turning off the computer games, and staying engaged at school. Whether you’re the sort of parent who tries to micromanage your teen’s life or one who stays completely out of it, there are things you can do to help your teen manage their stress.
Take a look at these six ways you can help your teenager reduce their S.T.R.E.S.S. levels, and watch how much better they (and you) feel!
- S. is for Simplify. Is your teenager over-committed and over-busy? Are they showing a lack of interest in all those activities they used to find enjoyable? It might be a situation of activity overload. Even good things can create stress. If your teenager’s after-school hours and weekend life is filled to the brim with sports practice, music lessons, and other formal activities, you may want to evaluate the need to help them simplify their lives. Remember that teenagers are still developing their ability to evaluate and make choices. Have a sit-down conversation. Write down all the things your teen is involved in, and discuss what activities they truly enjoy and which ones they’re involved in because of peer- or parent-pressure.
- T. is for Tools. Teenagers want to hear your wisdom, but are often stuck in making sweeping statements about how they don’t need you at all. Take some time to evaluate your teen’s style of hearing you, then provide tools they can use to reduce their stress levels in a way they can understand. Is your teen stuck in social media overload? Help them manage their time by limiting computer or phone time and helping them get involved with in-person interactions. Is your teen experiencing an overload of hormonal changes? Spend some one-on-one time helping them understand what’s happening physically and emotionally. Simple exercises like deep breathing, walking, and listening to calming music can make an enormous difference in the stress level your teenager feels.
- R. is for Redo. Teenagers are on a grand adventure of discovering who they are, while hearing constant messages from friends, family, and society about how they have to be different then who they are. You can help reduce your teen’s stress level by creating an atmosphere where a “do-over” is acceptable and even encouraged. When your teenager has a verbal meltdown, offer them the opportunity to re-send you their message just using better words. When your teen completely blows it, encourage them to come up with a way to make it right rather than imposing punishment. You can help your teen learn personal accountability while reducing their stress levels by letting home be the place where they can intentionally practice the growing up process.
- E. is for Empathy. Your teenager is likely convinced that you don’t really understand what they’re going through. And they just may be right! Things have changed rather dramatically over the last generation or two, and the pressures on teens have never been greater. However, you can choose to become a collaborator with your teen by frequently expressing to them your support and understanding of their emotional journey. While the details of teen life have changed, the underlying process of growing up is still the same. Tell your teen that you’re proud of who they’re becoming, even on days when they’re messing up. Leave notes, send text messages, compliment them in public, and ask questions calmly (not a lecture!) about what your teen feels stressed about. It doesn’t much matter how you would handle a stressful situation. What matters is that you’re willing to help your teen find their own way to walk through stress. Communicate that often, in as many ways as you can think of.
- S. is for Solid. Whether your teen seems to float through the growing-up journey with little sign of stress, or if they’re constantly floundering, they desperately need you to provide them with a SOLID foundation from which to grow. This is where many parents drop the ball. Your own personal journey, your emotional and spiritual life, is what your teenager is watching for clues of how to do things (or not do things) better. Is your own foundation solid? Would you be proud for your teen son or daughter to follow you? Have you gotten stuck in a “Do as I say not as I do” mentality? Take a close look at your own stress management, and make necessary changes so you’re giving your teenager a solid example from which they can grow.
- S. is for Symphony. There are about 20 different instruments played by upwards of 50 musicians in a symphony orchestra. No one instrument is more important than another, and together they make beautiful music. The secret to making that music, though, is in the hundreds and thousands of hours devoted to practicing together. Helping your teenager make their own beautiful music is just like that. Provide an atmosphere where who they are becoming is important, heard, and honored. Give them opportunities to practice their “music”, and the tools they need to manage life.
Every teenager is unique, and each is on a journey. You have a priceless opportunity to help your teenager navigate the tough adolescent years while learning ways to reduce their stress that will last their lifetime. Practicing S.T.R.E.S.S. will help you and your teen enjoy the journey!
Ronae Jull knows that parenting teens is tough! Ronae writes as the HOPE Coach at RonaeJull.com, where she offers practical tools for parenting teens without losing your mind. Pre-order your copy of My Teenager Is The Problem and get it signed by the HOPE Coach. No matter how discouraged you feel about your relationship with your teenager, there is always HOPE.