Teens aren’t always the best at communicating their feelings. Here’s how to tell if they’re struggling, and how to talk to them about it
This blog reveals
- 5 common signs a teenager is struggling with stress
- What to do if your teen seems to be suffering with stress
- The all-natural mood-lifting, stress-fighting formula that’s 20% OFF
When we’re caught up in the whirlwind of our careers, family responsibilities, and financial pressures, it’s easy to long for the days of our youth.
But, let’s be honest. Was being a teenager really that easy?
Of course not! You were just dealing with a different set of stressors. And that hasn’t changed.
The problem with teens experiencing stress is that while they undoubtedly feel it…
… They’re not always the best at talking about it.
In this blog we reveal 5 common ways stress shows up in teenagers… and also offer advice on how to talk to them about it.
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Teenage health issues
Stress has long been reported as a potential cause of immune system deficiency…
…So there’s no surprise that a key signal for teenage stress is recurrent health issues.
To be clear, we’re not talking about severe, immunocompromised conditions… Rather, when your teen repeatedly reports feeling “under the weather”.
It’s especially worth taking notice if they choose to regularly skip social events for the same reason.
Two of the most frequent health issues stress disguises itself as are headaches and stomachaches.
Unhealthy sleep patterns
C’mon, what teenager doesn’t love sleeping in on the weekends? Especially when you have to get up so ridiculously early for school!
That being said, persistent sleep issues can also be a sign of stress.
Stress can leave your teen’s mind full of racing thoughts, making it hard for them to get to sleep at a decent time.
It can also prevent them from dropping into a healthy REM cycle… Which means the sleep they do get isn’t providing the benefits it should.
Instead of waking refreshed and energized, they’ll awake groggy and irritable.
We all get into arguments with our kids from time-to-time… that’s just a natural part of being in a family.
But, pay attention to what you’re arguing about.
Do you find that your child is overreacting to small or insignificant matters?
You might be tempted to ask “why are you getting so worked up about this?!”
It’s likely your teenager is actually upset about something much more appropriate… but doesn’t have the coping strategies to deal with the stress.
As a result, their emotions can bubble over when triggered by even the most trivial of disagreements.
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Difficulty with school and socialization
Trust us, we’re well aware that there are plenty of other activities teens would rather be doing than sitting in a classroom. A disinterest in school isn’t necessarily something to be worried about.
What we’re referring to is when your teenager actively avoids engaging with school… perhaps by faking an illness or skipping class.
This, accompanied by a resistance to socialize with even their close friends can be a particular cause of concern.
Feelings of sadness and negativity
As concerned as we are with how our teenagers talk to others…
… We should be just as concerned with how they talk about themselves.
When stressed, it’s easy for teenagers to succumb to negative self-perceptions.
This can manifest in destructive self-talk, where they make off-handed disparaging remarks about their appearance, intelligence, worth, and so on.
This is perhaps the clearest sign that your teenager needs help coping with stress.
How to talk to your teenager
You know the signs… So what should you do if you notice these in your own child?
The answer sounds simple, but it really can work wonders.
We know this isn't always easy... Teenagers aren’t exactly the most willing to sit down and open up about their feelings.
However, we often find that this is partly due to the way we approach these conversations with them.
Here are a few tips on how to have open and constructive conversations about stress with your teenager.
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Keep it casual
There’s no need to build up the scale of this conversation in your head.
This often leads us to isolating the teenager and pulling them into our office for “a talk”.
This can create a formal atmosphere that only encourages your child to clam up.
We find it far more effective to allow the chat to happen during a casual activity. Perhaps you’re washing the car, going to get groceries, or playing a game.
You’re asking your teen to be vulnerable, which is hard to do at any age. Building a relaxed atmosphere for your conversation will only help!
Don’t monopolize the conversation
These conversations can seem daunting, and as a result we often feel like we need to prepare some sort of speech for the occasion.
We understand this impulse… but we don’t recommend following it.
Teenagers spend much of their day in school being lectured to. The last thing they’ll want is to find something similar at home.
A conversation takes two… which leads us into:
Listen.. And don’t jump to conclusions
Because you’ve been a teenager, it’s tempting to assume you already know the answers to your child’s problems.
That’s not going to help.
What your teen needs is an attentive listener who will respond to the questions they ask.
Stay present with your child in conversation, and incredible strides can be made!
Ask for help if you need to
Sometimes you may feel that the levels of stress and sadness your child is experiencing are too much for you to handle alone.
This is nothing to be ashamed of.
Your responsibility is to find resources that can help your teenager, especially if you feel their safety may be in danger.
These can include, but are not limited to, a guidance counselor, a physician, or a therapist.
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Featured photo by Jesús Rodríguez on Unsplash