How to help guide your teen through the uncertainties of life — coping with stress and anxiety.
Teenagers today are subject to a lot of pressure as they plan for their future in these uncertain times. Saving up for college, part-time work, and the pressure to achieve can be emotionally taxing for your high schooler.
As a parent, you can guide your teen through these challenges and put their minds at ease as they prepare for adulthood.
The Impact of Stress on Teens
In a 2018 survey, the American Psychological Association reported that teenagers experience more anxiety and depression than adults. The pandemic has made this situation much worse. Isolation caused by school closures, worry about getting sick, and related issues have put adolescents at greater risk for mental health issues.
How can you help your teenage child with anxiety? The first step is discovering if your child has a problem. Teens may not answer questions about their mental health adequately. Look for telltale signs of stress and depression such as:
- Physical symptoms including headaches, stomach aches, or exhaustion
- Loss of interest in activities or loss of appetite
- Irregular sleep habits
- Difficulty focusing or making decisions
- Withdrawal, seclusion, or apathy
Teach Your Child to Manage Stress
If your child seems to be struggling with these issues, you can employ several strategies to help them manage their stress. One of the most important is to create a peaceful environment in your home. Even the most functional families can overreact in stressful times. However, you can choose to react calmly when in times of crisis.
When you feel the urge to lose your temper because of your teen’s behavior or actions, take a step back and breathe for a few moments before engaging them. Show how to handle a difficult situation instead of telling them to calm down when they are angry.
Another key is to communicate openly and frequently with your child. Invite them to offer their opinions, input, and ideas on everything from planning family traditions to current events. Be honest with them about your feelings as well. And when you see them accomplish their goals or share their experiences, take the time to acknowledge and encourage their efforts.
Another way to reduce their stress is to help your teens take ownership of their health. Exercise, proper sleep, and nutritious food choices can reduce anxiety. When these habits improve how they feel, they will make them part of their routine.
The next step is to help them plan for their future to reduce the pressure they experience today.
Planning for a Career Path
The goal of high school is to guide your child onto a career path, which can lead to a great deal of tension. They may suffer performance anxiety in academics or athletics, worry about college admission or tuition expenses, and stress over a high school career that will help them achieve their goals.
Choosing a career path can be confusing. Sit down with your teen to explore different options. Review their strengths and interests but keep in mind that these alone will not always help them find the best options.
If they are concerned about employment opportunities in the future, have them look at jobs or industries that are in need or are growing. For example, there is a shortage of medical doctors and other health providers in the U.S. This shortage is expected to increase over the next 20 years as older physicians retire. Pursuing a degree in medicine, nursing, or other healthcare disciplines will be valuable in times to come.
Finally, remember to tell your teen that they need not stress too much over future career paths. Their early college years have basic electives and introductory courses in their chosen profession, allowing them to get a taste of their potential career. There is enough time to change their path before advancing too far.
Connect your teens with professionals in the field to get an idea of what the job entails. They should also talk to successful professionals who changed their major in college.
Teens are not just worried about their careers. Financial security in today’s economy is another anxiety-inducing concern.
Planning for Financial Security
Your child may be worried about their financial future. Tuition costs are one concern. They may even be aware that many millennials struggle to buy a home thanks to outstanding college debt. Another worry they have is figuring out how to build good credit for a future mortgage.
Even if buying a home is far off for your teens, they may be considering other expenses, like traveling to Europe or buying a car.
Help your teen reduce stress about the future by teaching them the basics of financial security. You can cover budgeting, saving, and investing topics in a more practical way than a school course. Teach your teens savvy financial habits such as these:
- Put money aside every week once they have a job or from their allowance.
- Have them set a small goal for some of their savings, such as a new phone.
- Get them to track their spending to achieve this goal. Teach them to set up an income and expenditures spreadsheet.
- If your child is very responsible, you can add them to your credit card as an authorized user to help them establish a credit history and score.
Teens have a lot of pressure on them to succeed today. You can model and teach good habits to manage that stress. In addition, helping them for a career and financial security will ensure a successful future.
If you are struggling with your teenager that’s causing depression or sadness and have exhausted your local resources, learn more about how residential treatment can help your troubled teen. Contact us today for a free consultation.