7 Ways to Help Your Teen Manage Stress

Teach your teen the skills she needs to manage her stress.
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Adolescence can be a very stressful time, and unfortunately, many teens struggle to find healthy ways to manage their stress. High levels of stress can place teens at risk for a variety of physical and mental health problems, educational problems, and social problems.

Stress is a part of life, and learning how to deal with that stress is a healthy life skill that will serve your teen well for the rest of her life.

Here are some strategies that can help your teen keep stress-related problems at bay:

1. Identify Your Teen’s Sources of Stress

Teenagers can experience stress from a variety of sources—academics, friends, romantic relationships, and sports are just a few of things that can stress a teen out. Of course, some teens experience more stress than others. Teens with learning disabilities or those who are bullied, for example, may experience extremely high levels of distress.

No matter what type of stress your teen experiences, take her concerns seriously. Help your teen identify whether she’s struggling with a single source of stress—like a toxic friend—or if she’s having difficulties in several areas of her life. Sometimes, simply acknowledging feeling stressed out and identifying the source can be a step in the right direction.

2. Problem-Solve Together

A lot of teenage stress stems from difficulties solving problems.

Teens often avoid addressing small problems—which can make them grow into bigger problems. Or, they may respond to issues in a way that makes things worse.

Work together with your teen and proactively teach problem-solving skills. If, for example, her stress stems from not having enough time to do her work, sit down and review her schedule.

She may need help with time management, or she may need help identifying activities she can give up so she can find time to her homework.

3. Teach Your Teen to Think Realistically

Teens often stress themselves out by thinking things are worse than they are. For example, a teen who receives an average grade on a test may tell himself, “Now I’ll never get into college. I’m a failure.” That way of thinking will skyrocket his stress.

Teach your teen that thoughts aren’t always true and emotions often cloud people’s judgement. Encourage your teen to use healthy self-talk. Speaking to herself with kindness and self-compassion will help her deal with stressful situations more effectively.

4. Coach your Teen to Use Healthy Coping Skills

Assess your teen’s current coping skills. Talk to her about how she deals with her emotions and what steps she takes when she’s stressed. Discuss unhealthy coping skills—like overeating or withdrawing from social activity—and discuss the importance of finding healthy ways to blow off stream.

Help your teen discover healthy ways to deal with uncomfortable feelings. Calling a friend, drawing, going for a walk, or writing in a journal are just a few ways your teen can manage stress. Help your teen identify what will work best for her.

5. Teach Relaxation Exercises

Relaxation exercises offer immediate stress relief. Whether your teen is anxious just before a test, or stressed out about finding a job, relaxation skills can provide immediate relief.

Deep breathing exercises or meditation for example, can help calm your teen’s nerves. If you’re not certain how to teach relaxation skills, look for tutorials or classes. Attend a yoga class with your teen, watch a video about deep breathing, or purchase an audio guided imagery program.

6. Be a Good Role Model

Your teen will learn how to deal with stress by watching you. So if you reach for alcohol to unwind at the end of a long day or you use food to deal with your problems, your child is likely to follow suit.

Take steps to manage the stress in your own life. Monitor your stress levels and practice self-care. Showing your teen how to regulate the stress of adulthood in a healthy way will inspire your teen to follow suit.

7. Encourage a Healthy Lifestyle

Your teen will struggle to manage stress if she’s not getting adequate sleep or she’s not eating a healthy diet. Encourage your teen to take care of her body so that she’s best equipped to manage stress.

Support your teen’s efforts to get exercise and to spend time engaging in healthy activities. Positive relationships and healthy leisure activities will help your teen manage stress over the long-term. 

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