MomsOnMonday: Prep for Parenting Your Modern Family

Posted on October 30th, 2017, 0 Comments

Three Things You Can Do to Help Your Teen Be More Stress Resistant

Teens have a lot to juggle. And now that school is in full swing, that juggling just got harder. With each successive year, their schoolwork becomes more abstract and demanding, athletic teams become more competitive and selective, and we parents tend to apply more pressure and get harder to please.

Try This
Although there are no good quick fixes for curing teens’ stress, there are lots of things that can help them be more stress resistant. And some of these are things that we parents can do. Below are three that made a big difference in our home.

Have some relaxing, hassle-free zones.
Consider making times and places in your home that are free havens from stress and anxiety. Family meals are a good place to start. Although as kids get older and more independent they tend to eat fewer meals with their family, research indicates that participating in family meals can improve teens’ physical and mental health.¹ Plus many teens say that eating dinner together is one of their favorite family activities. And most teens who participate in family dinners say that the interaction and togetherness are the best part of the meal.

Learn to listen to things that make you uncomfortable.
Teens want to be heard, and it’s easy to listen when what they’re reporting is positive and finished. But when the issues are stressful and unresolved, we parents sometimes get anxious and want to make everything okay. That’s when our quick advice (It’ll be fine. Don’t worry.) and our desire to solve the problem for them (Here’s what you need to do…) can get in the way.

To help your teen explore whatever they’re struggling with, without taking over their problem, try:

– Feel like talking…?

– What do you think…?

– Tell me more about…

Remind them of their past successes.
Sometimes we can help our stressed-out teens best by acting as historians for them. When they’re feeling anxious –whether it’s about an upcoming performance, competition, or test – we can listen to their worries and then remind them of their past successes under similar emotional circumstances.² To give you an idea of what that might sound like, here’s an example from my years as my daughter’s historian:

I know you’re nervous about the dance recital tomorrow. But I feel certain that you will get through it successfully. Remember last year. Before the recital started, you were uncertain. You were afraid you’d forget something or even fall. You had a stomachache and your throat hurt just as they do now. But you danced exquisitely, and when it was over you talked about how much you enjoy performing for an audience. You can do this – just as you have before.

You don’t need to work on these strategies all at once. Pick one that feels most natural to you and start there. Progress in any of these areas will help your teen feel stronger, more confident,and more connected to you.

Sources and Resources
2. Riera M. Staying connected to your teenager. Cambridge, MA: De Capo Press of Perseus Books Group; 2003.

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