As an adult, the idea that your teen may be under stress may seem laughable. After all, you have a mortgage to pay and kids to raise. You have real stress. Though teens may not feel the same kind of stress that you do, their stress is still very real and can cause them the same kind of anguish. Identifying their stressors not only helps you better understand what they are going through, but also gives clues on how you can help.
School and Grades
The Palo Alto Medical Foundation found that the top stressor teens identified was school, including grades, tests and the process for getting into college. Teens must juggle academic excellence with other responsibilities such as extracurricular activities. Kids Health notes that teens who struggle with a learning disability may feel even more stress.
Behind school on this list, family life has the biggest impact on teen stress levels. The Cincinnati Children's Hospital identifies a family history of substance abuse; parental separation, or divorce; major illness in the family; and poor family communication as top stressors for teens. Conflict may also arise as a teen begins to assert his independence in his move toward adulthood.
Dr. Carol Langlois, an author and therapist, identifies a struggle with body image as a top stressor for teen girls, but it can affect teen boys and girls alike. The pressure to adapt to social ideals of beauty, including maintaining a certain weight, can cause a great deal of stress.
While your teen may not have a mortgage payment to make, many do work part-time jobs to get things they want, such as clothes and trips to the movies with dates. Teens can also be affected by financial stress experienced by their parents, especially if it results in things like a move or scarcity in food or other necessities.
Friendships and social status can be some of the biggest influences on teen stress levels. A teen is learning how to express his individuality while also seeking acceptance from the group. Any perceived reduction in popularity can cause a great deal of stress.
A report produced by the Massachusetts Medical Society found that teens named younger siblings as a top source of stress. Sibling rivalry may be to blame in some cases, but family expectations that a teen care for younger children can also lead to stress. Your teen may also feel stress over feeling like he has to compete with siblings for affection or validation.
Change can be stressful for anyone, but it may affect teenagers especially hard, since they may already feel like they have little control over what happens in their lives. Moving, changing schools or dealing with a divorce or separation can all create significant stress for teens.
Teens are learning how to deal with heavy emotions and romantic relationships, and this can cause a lot of stress. They may be pressured to engage in sexual activity; may be confused about what they want in the relationship; or may even be figuring out how to deal with bad treatment from a partner.
Cyber-bullying is a growing problem with the ongoing popularity of social media, blogs and other online communication. Cyber-bullying should be treated just as seriously as any other type of bullying, as its effects can be just as destructive. Parents should counsel children on their use of the Internet and should keep lines of communication open.
Your teen may act like he doesn't care about your opinion, but in reality, what you say makes a deep impression. If your teen feels like he is constantly under criticism for his grades, the work he does around the house or his other behavior, he can feel a great deal of stress.