Does your teen frequently appear stressed? Are you unsure on what could be the source of stress for your teen and how you could help your teen reduce their level of stress? To help understand common sources of stress for teens today and how a parent can help their teen relax and manage stress, I have interviewed therapist Christy Maeder LCSW.
Tell me a little bit about yourself.
“I am a Licensed Clinical Social Worker and have been in practice for 11 years. The majority of my work has been with children and adolescents. I’m currently in private practice in Pasadena, California.”
What are some sources of stress for teens today?
“A current challenge facing teens today is the impact of a parent losing his or her job. The financial stressors of a family can impact a teen in a variety of ways. Conflicts over money, tensions in the family, changes in parental and family roles can all take a toll on today’s teens. Teenagers absorb much of the stress in a family, in ways that parents may not be aware of.”
“Over scheduling and pressure towards perfectionism can be another serious stressor in a teen’s life. Teen’s need time to “veg” out, hang out with friends, listen to music, etc. This is “play” for teens and is just as important as smaller children having enough time to play and use their imagination in order to develop skills they will need later in life. Currently, teens are juggling school, extracurricular activities, part time jobs and have added pressures related to academic achievement in order to get into college.”
“Peers can also be a source of stress for teens. Navigating the world of dating, pressure to have sex or experiment with drugs, all of these can wreck havoc in a teen’s life, particularly if they are slower to develop physically or emotionally than their peers.”
What type of impact can stress have on a teen’s overall life?
“Stress can have a serious impact on a teen’s life. Depression and suicide are real issues facing teens today. Substance abuse in particular can have a serious impact as drug use and drinking can lead to depression, especially with adolescent boys. Substance abuse can be a major factor in teen suicides in both girls and boys. Teen stress can lead to poor school achievement, isolation from peers and family, and behavior problems such as lying or ditching school.”
How can a parent help their teen relax and manage stress?
“Parents are in a difficult situation when it comes to managing teen stress. It requires a balancing act of knowing how to give your teen space and foster independence with the need to stay actively involved in the teen’s life. Communication is the most important factor in managing stress. I always recommend that families with teens schedule family meetings once a week to check in and talk about what’s going on in the family. This can foster family connectedness, which can reduce the impact of stress.”
“Family exercise can also be a great way of dealing with a teen’s stress. If it’s time to walk the dog, get everyone to come. Ride bikes together, hiking, even playing the Wii, any family activity that involves moving the body can reduce stress symptoms.”
“Be honest with your teen about money and work issues, but don’t burden them with too much information. Reassure your teen that despite economic hard times, things will be ok and the family will work together to deal with problems that arise.”
“Lastly, get to know your teen’s friends. Make your home the one where your teen and his or her friends want to hang out. Make yourself available to them and let them know that you are a trusted adult, but at the same time, give them privacy and space.”
What type of professional help is available for a teen that is feeling stressed?
“If a parent notices that their teen is having problems sleeping, eating and is socially isolated, or if a parent suspects alcohol or drug use, they should seek help right away. A parent can ask teachers, other parents, school counselors for the name of a good therapist. Find someone who has experience working with teens. This can be a crucial factor as teens often shut down verbally and emotionally when under stress and they need to work with a professional who understands adolescent development.”
Thank you Christy for doing the interview on how a parent can help their teen relax and manage their stress. For more information on Christy Maeder or her work you can check out her website on christymaederlcsw.com.
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