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Helping My Teen Deal with Stress

We all know the teenage years are often filled with high levels of emotion, but combining that emotion with pressure can cause overwhelming feelings of stress and anxiety. If we as parents can take these challenges as opportunities to help them deal with the physical, emotional, and spiritual results of stress, we will equip them with tools to deal with the stress they will eventually face in college, their jobs, and other areas of life.

One important necessity in dealing with stress is talking about it—though sometimes that’s easier said than done. Working to keep the lines of communication open will help your teen to open up to you when he or she is feeling overwhelmed. If your teen is not much of a talker, try setting aside time each week for the two of you to spend a couple of hours together. Take them to breakfast before school, ice cream after school, or simply go for a walk. Simple is often best. During this time avoid corrective speech, but instead take time to listen to what he or she has to share. Investing in relationship building by spending time together when life is less stressful can often create the margin they need to express their anxiety when things get difficult.

Let your teen know you value their perspective and opinion, and make sure to affirm them through positive speech. Your teen still may not talk a whole lot, that’s okay. If you can make this a consistent “date” with your teen, creating a safe place for them they know they can run to when stressed, they will open up over time.

The closeness of your relationship and openness of your communication will be the biggest key to helping them navigate stress over time. Don’t ignore signs that your child may be struggling and experiencing unhealthy stress levels. Irritability, anger, extreme worry, sleeping issues or odd eating patterns are indicators of stress in teens. Pay attention to your teen’s behavior, and if you are concerned, consider enlisting help.

Consider discussing these four areas with your teenager to help them deal with stress:

Scripture – Ultimately, the best remedy for stress is trusting God. When your teen is exhibiting signs of stress, lovingly share with them that even people who believe in God will experience stress. King David was afraid at times, stating “terror is on every side” in Psalm 31:13. He was overwhelmed with sorrow and grief. We can trust that God will never leave us or forsake us (Deut 31:6, Matt 28:18-20).

Prayer – Scripture helps show us what is in God’s hands and what we need to consider our responsibility. Prayer helps us to distinguish between these a step further by seeking God’s strength and wisdom for things we have to do while submitting and entrusting to God the things that are beyond our control. We can pray in faith knowing God hears, cares, and gives us peace that will guard our hearts and minds in Christ (Phil 4:6-7)

Physical Activity – Physical exercise has a number of benefits related to relieving stress for our teenager. Helping them find an outlet to move around or get outside can provide healthier physical responses to stress. Finding shared activities with other members of the family can also provide better relational connection and sense of support for your teen.

Time Management – Sometimes stress can be seen in an overstacked schedule. In some cases, adding another physical activity or way to deal with stress will only contribute to more stress for your teen. Help them to manage their time well and learn to balance their schedule. Help them understand how much time each day they are spending on homework, extracurricular activities, social interactions, and technology.

Remind your teenager they have your love and support in. Take time to breathe and refocus on God’s good purposes for them even in moments of stress. In doing so, you will better shape their hearts to glorify God no matter what comes in life.