Parents know all about stress. From the moment our children are born, we’re worrying over every decision we make, every response to a crisis. Not only are we trying to raise happy and healthy children, we’re trying to prepare them for the world.
We want to jump at every chance to protect them from pain and hardship, but doing so can add to the already massive amounts of stress our teens are suffering from.
Here are some points to think about the next time you’re worried about teen stress.
1. Strict morals.
We do our best to raise thoughtful, respectful children into the world, but by adhering too strongly with no room for mistakes, we teach our children not only that they can’t talk to us about a mistake they’ve made, but that they’ll lose your love or respect for making a mistake.
Don’t just talk to your teen when you need to hash out some issue. This conditions them to dread conversations with their parents. Talk every day to get an idea of what they’re thinking, how they’re feeling. Don’t make simple communication a special occasion, and they’ll be more inclined to bring problems to you.
3. Focusing on the bad.
One of my clearest memories as a child is presenting the scores for my aptitude tests to my mother. As an 11-year-old, I scored at college levels in science, English and vocab, and history. Her only comment to me was to mention my math could use some work.
You may think you’re trying to encourage your child to improve where they’re weak, but that’s not the message your child receives.
4. Pressuring the positive.
Sometimes a parent’s drive for their child to succeed can go too far, making the child believe that if they fail at all, the cost would be too great to even think about. This builds a very serious fear of failure in your teen, only adding to their stress levels. Acknowledge their successes when appropriate, but don’t let it be the only thing they hear from you.
5. Teach by example.
When my daughter was a toddler, running, jumping, and getting into trouble, she would fall. Often. When she did, we cheered and clapped and subtly checked for booboos. This taught her that falling wasn’t something to panic about, and she grew into a pretty tough cookie.
Kids learn more from how you respond than from what you say. So the next time your teen comes home with a tale of woe, don’t respond with anxiety, as it only teaches them they should be anxious.
6. Let them try.
We want to be helpful and protective, but as teens, they’re of an age where they need to learn to handle problems on their own. Be available for conversation and advice, but let them try to solve their own problems first.
7. Adults have problems, too.
Don’t hide the fact that you have issues you’re wrestling with as well. It’s an opportunity to teach them how to properly respond to stress and problem-solve.
Tyler Jacobson is a father, husband, and freelancer, with experience in writing toward parents of troubled teen boys. Tyler has offered humor and research backed advice to readers on parenting tactics, problems in education, issues with social media, mental disorders, addiction, and troublesome issues raising teen boys. Connect with Tyler on: Twitter | Linkedin