Teenage years are some of the hardest years in a person’s life, though that may sound odd considering all of the extra stress and responsibilities we accumulate as we get older. However, as kids get further into their teenage years, they gain their first exposure to complex and difficult life concepts, such as navigating relationships with friends and crushes, pursuing ambitions and deciding life goals, and dealing with the teen angst that can come with emotional immaturity and development. It can be hard to know how to handle all of that.
Between academic stress, relationships, and pressure from their parents and peers, many teenagers spend a lot of time feeling overwhelmed and not knowing what to do about it. As a parent, it’s our job to help them navigate this complicated time in their life so they can gain the skills and knowledge of how to deal with stressful situations in a healthy way that will help throughout their lives.
Limit Their Punishments
When we see our children doing something scary or concerning, such as getting in fights or letting their grades drop, our first instinct is often to punish them. We may think that grounding them or taking away their phones will help to keep them out of trouble and limit their distractions. However, a lot of times, this can simply add more stress to their lives by causing them to feel alienated, which can distract and upset them further.
While it’s important to be a stern guide at times when they don’t seem to be on the right path, you should remember that if your child is having a hard time in their personal life, they probably need someone to talk to. If you react to your child’s concerning behavior by punishing them, it’s possible that their reaction will be to stop trusting you. Distrust from your child can be one of the worst circumstances when they’re going through a difficult time, because it can mean they won’t feel comfortable talking to you about the reasons behind their behavior.
Help With Stress
As their parent, you’re a major resource in your teenager’s life who can help them get the insight and advice they need to work through the problems they’re facing. However, if you sit down and ask your teenager about their life, rather than just punishing them, you can give them a chance to talk about their feelings and problems. An honest conversation may be enough to help them realize that their actions are rooted in insecurity, stress, or a desire for attention.
At times, teenagers act out because they don’t know how else to express their feelings. Many teens experience a high amount of stress which can lead to other difficult emotions. According to the 2014 Stress in America survey, 30 percent of teens stated that they were depressed or sad because of stress, and 31 percent said they were overwhelmed due to stress. One of the primary causes of stress in teens is academics, so if your child seems to be struggling with classwork, consider helping them or getting them a tutor.
Some other things that can help your teen deal with stress include:
- Getting involved with sports (teens who exercise report lower stress levels).
- Joining clubs or other after school activities where they can make friends.
- Finding a therapist they feel comfortable talking to and seeing them regularly.
- Making sure your teen is going to bed early enough to get eight hours of sleep.
Provide Safety Information
Another source of stress for students is often their romantic relationships. This reason is more common as teens get older, but they’re not uncommon for young teens either. When a teenager is having troubles in their relationship, the stress surrounding these problems can be a huge distraction from school, and a cause for sadness and depression as well. If your teen is going through a fight or break up with their significant other, be there to offer advice and consolation.
On the other hand, a lot of stress can also occur when teens become sexually active. This is usually an entirely new ballgame for them and often emotionally overwhelming. Additionally, without being taught proper safety precautions and overall safe sex practices, your teen could find themselves in a dangerous situation.
In 2016, there were about one million cases of STDs linked to young people, some of the highest numbers ever witnessed by the CDC. It’s important to create a safe space in your relationship with your child that allows them to feel comfortable discussing sex with you — especially because this can be an uncomfortable topic to begin with. By fostering a relationship based on trust, you can teach your teen about using protection, and encourage them to be honest with you about their personal life so, if needed, you can regularly take them to the doctor for testing. This way, they won’t have to worry about whether or not they’ve contracted an STD.
Explain Their Rules
Providing safety information to your child has the potential to limit the dangers they may be subjected to. As your child becomes old enough to drive, some other safety information that will be important for them to know is driving statistics.
Teenagers don’t have enough life experience to understand the dangers of driving, so telling your teen not to use their phone while driving often goes in one ear and out the other. However, motor vehicle crashes are the single leading cause of death for Americans between the ages of 13 and 19. In 2015, a total of 2734 teens died in car accidents. Teach your child the importance of slowing down on the roads and driving carefully; if you get through to them, it could save their life.
Driving may be one area where it can help to tighten the reins on their freedom to ensure their safety. You can do this by having them download apps that will discourage them from using their phones while driving. Some of these apps include AT&T Drive Mode, which silences text notifications when the car is moving, and notifies the parent if the app is disabled. Another app is Canary, which notifies parents when their teen uses their phone behind the wheel, as well as when they’re speeding or break curfew.
Being a teenager is challenging, but being the parent of a teen is no walk in the park either. It’s a huge responsibility to take care of a young human so early in their path of life discovery. However, practicing tips that help foster your relationship with them can help you to help them navigate life in the best way possible. Once you make it through their teenage years, you’ll have the opportunity to see them grow into the successful young adults you helped them become.