Not sure if your student is working too hard? Do they seem anxious or overly stressed? Read here for some tips from Counselor Jan Pearson on ways to help your teen manage their stress levels.
The levels of stress and anxiety teens endure in today’s competitive school culture have been a rising concern for parents and professionals alike in recent years. How much is too much stress? How do you manage a teen’s mental health while helping them achieve their dreams?
Many factors can influence a student’s stress levels, from technology and social media to insecurity about body image, peer pressure at school, and family troubles. Even parents can add stress to their students by pressuring their children to take the most rigorous courses, get the highest grades, attend the most elite colleges. Some contributors to this national health issue can be controlled, but at a cost to the parent who must exert energy and effort to manage their child’s needs and daily routines. This is especially difficult since both parents usually work full time and are often overly stressed themselves.
The American Psychological Association investigated adolescent stress back in 2014 and had teens rank whether or not they felt their stress levels were healthy. In APAs online study Stress in America™: Are Teens Adopting Adults’ Stress Habits?, teens reported their stress levels during the school year several levels higher than what they considered to be healthy.
Human growth and development requires some stress for learning, inspiration, and improvement to occur. However, there is a blurry line distinguishing between enough stress and too much. No magic measuring stick exists for determining when a parent needs to step in and help. The better you know your child, their needs and habits, the better gauge you will have when they approach the line of too much stress.
Begin by helping your student structure their day, activities, and studies so they can get 8 - 9 hours of sleep per night. Enforcing the time teens go to bed (and sleep) is often the most noticeable and easiest place to manage stress. Remove the phone or computer in the bedroom; learn to say “no” when your student wants to join another activity if they are already over-scheduled, and place limits on screen time.
The most healthy thing a parent can do is to be a great listener. This will give parents a better understanding on when it’s necessary to step in and help them manage their commitments. Knowing your child, listening to them and letting them talk (without providing constant advice or correction) and observing them is a great place to start.