It’s very common for teenagers to struggle with stress and anxiety. Research suggests that the number one cause of stress in teens is school pressure. And the number two cause? Many people might guess that it’s peers. Actually, it’s not – it’s their parents (sorry folks but it’s true).
Certain parental styles appear to contribute more to stress than others. Here are some parenting tips to help reduce stress and anxiety in your teen and to help them build resilience:
1. Frenzied “over-involvement” can be counter-productive and lead to a failure to connect on an emotional level. You can be over-involved in the wrong things (such as academics or athletic performance) and under-involved in the right things (such as is your child kind and respectful).
2. Helicopter parenting (i.e. doing too much for them) can negatively impact your teen’s ability to develop their own competencies and sense of self, impact their problem-solving capabilities, and inhibit the development of resilience
3. Support your child but don’t intrude. Support is about your child’s needs, intrusion is often motivated by your own anxiety or need to control
4. Don’t parent by fear, friendship, or dictatorship. Parent with acceptance, warmth, but clear limits and expectations. Place a high value on self-responsibility, moderation, and cooperation
5. Flexibility in communication is extremely important – if what you are doing isn’t working, try something else
6. Approach your child with curiosity and a genuine desire to understand their perspective
If your teenager is having difficulty functioning, withdrawing from friends, or experimenting with drugs or alcohol this can be a warning sign that their stress and anxiety may have reached concerning levels. Seek the help of a trained professional for assistance.
Lisa Van Der Merwe, LCSW, PC is a psychotherapist in private practice in Alpharetta, GA. She specializes in supporting teenagers and their families, couples, and adults going through life transitions. You can find out more about her on her website www.lvcounseling.com and she can be reached at 770-356-4408.