Social Stress: How Tweens Cope with Peer Stressors

How Your Tween Deals with Social Stress

girls bullying
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Question: How long does social stress, such as being excluded by peers or bullied, continue to cause pain?

Answer: Unfortunately social stress can last for a long while, depending on the individual who has experienced the painful situation. This seems to be particularly true for stressful social situations that cause strong effects, like ostracism, bullying and other forms of relational aggression.

Long-Term Effects of Social Stress on Tweens

Social stress can last for years because even a one-time incident can be relived just by thinking about it. With the pervasiveness of the internet, tweens have access to reminders of past events like no generation before. In addition to the evidence of past events, friends and families reactions to it may also be easy to find. Researchers find that mental reliving can feel just as painful as the initial event. Add in videos, photos, and comments that may be brought up by others and the chance for reliving painful events is all too real. For this reason, social stressors may be more damaging than physical aggression since physical pain fades as injuries heal while psychological pain can continue indefinitely. Notably, though, there do seem to be gender differences in which type of aggression feels more harmful.

Social Stress and Ostracism on Tweens

Not all tweens who experience a social stressor will experience long-term pain, however.

In the case of ostracism, or social exclusion, all kids will initially feel pain, but most will mentally cope and not move onto deeper, longer-lasting stages of feeling hurt. Kids who ruminate on the situation, however, may get so overwhelmed that their mental resources are exhausted. This lays the groundwork for the most damaging effects of social stress which includes suicidal thoughts.

Tween Coping Mechanisms for Social Stress 

Because of the increasing time tweens spend with friends, social stressors can be especially hard on your tweens pschological well-being. According to the American Psychological Association(APA), over 42% of teens reported not doing anything in response to social stress. You can teach your tween to be on the brighter side of this statistic. Here are 5 tips they suggest will help your tween cope with social stressors:

  • Get Adequate Sleep 
  • Accentuate the Positive 
  • Get Moving 
  • Create Happiness 
  • Speak Up

As you teach your tween the importance of responding to stressors in an intentional way, they will learn how to deal with stress like a pro. By practicing at such a young age, they will take these skills into adulthood and be more resilient when life happens.


Williams, Kipling D., and Nida, Steve A. Ostracism: Consequences and Coping. Current Directions in Psychological Science. 2011. 20(2): 71-75.

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