Life isn’t always a bed of roses. It sometimes throws us curve balls when we least expect it. While adults have some experience handling tough times, teens often struggle to get through them.
Teenagers don’t have the same coping skills and mechanisms as adults do and as a result, are more vulnerable to stress. They also have a lot going on in their lives, having to juggle multiple roles and expectations from their parents, teachers, and friends. They not only have to deal with the stress of performing well academically, but also the strain of coping with changing bodies and the upheaval brought about by hormones.
Without the right coping skills, each day for a teen can seem more stressful than the last. Left unchecked, continuous stress can lead to issues such as anxiety, teen depression, aggression or drug, and substance abuse.
It’s therefore crucial for parents to model and teach teenagers appropriate coping methods to help them get by when life gets tough. These include:
Teens are known to focus on short-term gains and they typically don’t take time to consider the long-term consequences of their actions. Though they hate limits, teens need healthy boundaries in order to remain physically and mentally healthy and to avoid burn out.
Work together with your teen to create reasonable boundaries covering different aspects of their lives like screen time use, going out with friends, etc. Once these limits are set, check in regularly to see that they’re having a positive impact on your teen’s life.
While we can’t avoid the bad times in life, we can choose how to react to them. One way to do this is by choosing to focus on the things that are going well. Teenagers need to learn to embrace gratitude, count their blessings and be happy for the good things in their lives. This makes the hard times easier to bear. Your teen can practice this by keeping a gratitude journal or developing a habit of listing a few things they’re thankful for every morning or evening.
Setting realistic goals
Living in the era of social media has contributed to teens having unrealistic expectations and setting poor, unattainable goals for themselves. Nowadays they’re surrounded by images of “perfect” bodies and stories of people who became instantly famous online. Constant exposure to such messages on social media can make teens become discouraged about their own lives, believing that they’re missing out or not living up to their potential.
While it’s great for teens to show initiative and have future plans, it’s important to teach them how to set realistic, effective goals. Let them know that achieving success in life takes time and that putting in effort towards their goals will eventually pay off.
Getting adequate sleep, eating well and exercising
A person’s physical wellbeing has a lasting effect on their mental health and teens are no different. In order to combat stress, teens need adequate sleep, exercise, and the right diet. Ensure your teen gets at least 8-10 hours’ sleep daily to keep them alert and well-rested.
Additionally, exercising is an excellent way of reducing stress while strengthening the body. If your teen isn’t sporty, encourage them to find other ways of exercising such as dancing or going for regular walks.
Also, ensure that they are eating nutritious meals to power their bodies through tough times. Teach them how to make healthy food choices with an emphasis on plenty of fruits, vegetables, complex carbs and healthy protein.
Taking a break
Teens also need to learn to slow down or take time out from things that are stressing them. The stressors could be friendships, relationships or activities that they’re engaged in. Let your teen know that taking a break once in a while will give them a chance to rest, recharge and refocus, allowing them to get a fresh perspective on whatever’s troubling them.
Setbacks are a normal part of life. Equipping teenagers with the right coping skills to manage stress and navigate any obstacles they encounter goes a long way towards helping them live successful lives. @tylerpjacobson (Click to Tweet!)
Tyler Jacobson is a proud father, husband, writer and outreach specialist with experience helping parents and organizations that help troubled teen boys. Tyler has focused on helping through honest advice and humor on: modern day parenting, struggles in school, the impact of social media, addiction, mental disorders, and issues facing teenagers now. Follow Tyler on Twitter and Linkedin.
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