How Do I Know When My Teen is Stressed?
The typical teenager is on an emotional roller coaster in the years leading up to becoming a young adult. Hormones, peer pressure, and the general anxieties of being young and inexperienced in the ways of the world cause a lot of stress, which can affect your teen's health and overall well-being. But if you parent a teenager, you know that sometimes, getting him to talk about what's bugging him is like trying to get a carrot to grow on a tomato plant. It's just not going to happen. Luckily, there are some ways to tell if your teenager is stressed and anxious without hearing it from the horse's mouth.
Monitor your teen's behavior patterns
Keep an eye out for negative behavioral changes that indicate stress. For example, your teen may seem withdrawn and uncommunicative, or she may show less interest in previously enjoyed activities. Her eating patterns may change, or she become tearful or angry at the least provocation. Of course, most teenagers exhibit some of these negative behaviors from time to time – it's the nature of the beast - but the trick is to notice a new and pronounced pattern. You can also learn a lot from how your teen interacts with others, both at school and elsewhere. Don't forget that repeatedly getting into trouble at school isn't necessarily a sign that your teen is simply poorly behaved or argumentative. Often, 'acting out' in this way is a sign of stress or general unhappiness.
Be mindful of sources of stress
If you stay abreast of relevant developments in your teen's life, you are more likely to be aware that stress could be brewing. Common stressors include academic pressures (such as approaching exams or increasingly difficult schoolwork), conflicts in social groups, unrequited romantic feelings, and feeling unattractive. Keep track of potentially stressful events, and try to remember how you felt in the same situation when you were a kid.
Teens can be notoriously difficult to interact with, especially since the teenage years tend to be characterized by a desire to push boundaries and press buttons. But it's essential to listen carefully to what your teen is telling you or trying to tell you. If you notice your son describing himself in unfavorable terms, expressing fear or unhappiness at the thought of going to school, or using language that suggests he feels overwhelmed, it is highly likely that your teen is stressed.
Cultivate a good relationship
The easiest way to know for sure that your teen is stressed is to hear it from her. While there's not much you can do to guarantee that your teen will always come to you with problems or worries, there are things you can do to make such openness more likely. Try to create a nonjudgmental, supportive atmosphere at home to send the message that nothing will make you stop loving your teen. While it is equally important to maintain the boundaries that are in place to keep your teen safe during her development, it's vital to strike a balance between responsible parenting and being unapproachable. If your teen feels like she can talk to you about the most sensitive topics, you will be better positioned to help her cope with her stress and anxiety.