Nearly half of all teens (ages 13 to 17) said they were more worried than last year, while only 28% of their parents thought their adolescent’s stress had increased. How can you help your teen deal with stress and worry?
“Parents underestimate the extent of their kids’ stress.”
The big red flag for parents to keep in mind: Our kids (teens) are much more stressed than we think.
The American Psychological Association (APA) released troubling survey results about our kids. The “Stress in America” surveyed 1206 young people ages eight to seventeen as well as 1568 adults conducted by Harris Interactive. The report, building on past research, revealed that stress is a top health concern for American teens between 9th and 12th grade.
Why are teens stressed?
According to the report, here are some reasons why teens are stressed:
- 44% of young people say doing well in school was a source of stress
- 30% of young people worry about their family having enough money
- 29% of teens say they worry about getting into a good college or deciding what to do after high school
- 22% of tweens worry about getting along with friends
Stress signs in teens:
Stress in young people doesn’t always look like stress in adults. Here are a few of the most common stress signs.
Physical stress signs:
- Headache, neck aches and backaches
- Nausea, diarrhea, constipation, stomachache, vomiting
- Shaky hands, sweaty palms, feeling shaky, lightheadedness
- Trouble sleeping, nightmares
- Change in appetite
- Frequent colds, fatigue
Emotional or behavioral stress signs:
- New or reoccurring fears; anxiety and worries
- Trouble concentrating; frequent daydreaming
- Restlessness or irritability
- Social withdrawal, unwilling to participate in school or family activities
- Moodiness; sulking; or inability to control emotions
- Nail biting; hair twirling; thumb-sucking; fist clenching; feet tapping
- Acting out, anger, aggressive behaviors such as tantrums, disorderly conduct
- Regression or baby-like behaviors
How to help your teen manage stress:
Facing stressors is a fact of life, for children and adults. These tips can help keep your teen’s stress in check:
- Sleep well. Sleep needs to be a priority to manage stress. This includes limiting screen use at night and avoid keeping devices in their bedroom. Sleep is essential for physical and emotional well-being.
- Exercise. Physical activity is an essential stress reliever for people of all ages. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services recommends at least 60 minutes a day of activity for children ages 6 to 17.
- Talk it out. Talking about stressful situations with a trusted adult can help teens put things in perspective and find solutions.
- Make time for fun—and quiet. Just like adults, teens need time to do what brings them joy, whether that’s unstructured time to play with building bricks or uninterrupted hours to practice music or art. Find a healthy balance between favorite activities and free time.
- Get outside. Spending time in nature is an effective way to relieve stress and improve overall well-being. Researchers have found that people who live in areas with more green space have less depression, anxiety, and stress.
- Write about it. Research has found that expressing oneself in writing can help reduce mental distress and improve well-being.
- Learn mindfulness. In a study of a 5-week mindfulness training program for 13- to 18-year-olds, researchers found that teens who learned mindfulness experienced significantly less mental distress than teens who did not.
If you feel your teen is overwhelmed with stress and techniques at home are not working, it might be time to seek professional help. Psychologists are experts in helping people manage stress and establish positive mental health habits. If your teen refuses counseling, consider a teen life coach to help them manage their stress levels.