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Teens and Stress: Taking Action

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Your teen has a lot on their plate between school studies, after school activities, such as sports or a part-time job, and deciding on a college. For as much fun and enjoyment as these activities can bring, it can also stress your teen out. Add to this, the cultural and societal pressures associated with drugs and alcohol, becoming sexually active and handling relationship issues with peers, parents, and teachers all of which can bring your teen to a breaking point.

The stats are discouraging too. One in five teens suffer from depression and the suicide rate has tripled for this age group since 1960. But, we know treatment works and with the right support teens can manage and live healthy and productive lives as adults. Here at First Steps Counseling, we’re here to help.

I wanted to share this great article I read recently in the New York Times Teaching Teenagers to Copy with Social Stress. The forthcoming research about teaching teens good coping skills to combat stress is encouraging and something every parent and teen should know more about. I encourage you to read this article and here are my favorite highlights.

  • Simple writing and reading exercises, independent of parents, to reinforce the most basic positive messages teens can use to reframe tough times and lessen negative experiences. It’s the smallest effort that we sometimes don’t realize makes a big difference.
  • Through research, teens read an article about brain science which instilled a basic understanding that personalities can change paired with accounts from older student’s experiences of feeling left out. This exercise helped teens understand that situations change and gave them a long view perspective that whatever is happening at the time, it’s not permanent.
  • In this research, teens were asked to give a five-minute speech and count backward. This practice in dealing with a stressful situation helped build a coping skill. Just like in real life if you confront problems and deal with them, teens will better handle stress in the future.

Stress is a natural part of life and everyone handles challenging situations differently and has various other things that impact coping. To give your teen coping skills now will give them a life-long skill they will rely on as an adult.

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