4 tips to help your stressed out teen
Being a teenager can be stressful, but being the parent of a stressed out teen can be just as difficult.
Oftentimes well-intentioned parents go too far in pushing their children to do well in school and to score well on the ACT and SAT. This pressure adds stress to adolescents who are already worried about fitting in, getting good test scores and getting into college.
“These situations can be especially stressful for families who can’t afford to take the ACT five times or to pay hundreds of dollars for prep classes,” says Sarah Katula, an advanced practice nurse in psychiatry at Advocate Good Samaritan Hospital in Downers Grove, Ill. “The stakes are also higher for these kids because oftentimes they count on high ACT scores to earn scholarship money that will help cover the cost of college.”
While parents can potentially contribute to their adolescents’ stress levels, they can also be instrumental in teaching their children how to manage stress, Katula says.
She offers these four recommendations to parents:
- Be a good role model of stress management for your teen by eating well, exercising and getting the proper amount of sleep. Parents can lead by example and show their children how healthy habits can create balance in one’s life.
- Encourage teens to envision what they want to accomplish in their future and to help them see how their schoolwork can get them there. Parents should avoid micromanaging their adolescents’ schoolwork.
- Encourage their children with positive thinking rather than threatening them with harsh criticism. They should encourage their children to do the best that they can, rather than worry about how their work and grades compare to those of their classmates.
- Urge their children to set aside downtime each day for relaxation and contemplation.
“One thing I work on with many of my patients is deep, focused breathing,” says Katula. “This quick form of meditation allows a person to slow down their life and focus solely on the present moment, calming that person down and helping alleviate stress.”
By working together, Katula says parents and their adolescents can form healthy habits that allow them to balance their busy lives and manage stressful situations.
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