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What’s going on in my teen’s head?

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Adolescence is a time of rapid growth and change – physically, mentally, and socially. These changes create stress, and it’s normal for teenagers to worry.

1. What others think of them

Finding a sense of belonging is a major source of stress in the teen years. Most teenagers want to belong and have connections to other people, especially other teens. During adolescence, friendships with other teens become extremely important. You care about what other teens think because you want to be accepted by them.

Puberty creates so many changes in such a short amount of time, teens can feel overwhelmed by their own bodies. In addition, our culture promotes an almost impossible body type as ideal, which creates unrealistic comparisons and feelings of failure.

Teens naturally want to fit in and be liked by others. They want to “pick” the right identity and be viewed by their peers in a positive light. This worry can motivate teens to do things they know are wrong or that makes them uncomfortable to impress the group. Additionally, teens know that those who don’t fit in are easy targets for bullies.

teen school grades anxiety

2. Their Marks/Grades

Believe it or not, most teens (even those who don’t get great marks) worry about grades. Good grades are a sign of intelligence and achievement, and teens know that grades will impact their future. In addition, grades can also determine the approval of teachers and parents, which teens desire even if they don’t act like it. 

Many teens also worry about their ability to complete schoolwork, either because they fear a lack of time or because they don’t understand the material.

Stressing about grades is a normal experience for teenagers. After all, they learn early on that it is important to get good grades in school. 

As a parent, you want to encourage your child to get good grades. However, you also want to teach them a healthy balance. You don’t want them to get sick from the stress.

There are many things that you as a parent can do to help reduce this type of anxiety for your teen:

1. Take the Focus Off of Grades

Of course, you want your child to get good grades. However, emphasizing the pure joy of learning is another way to go about it.

2. Create a Study Routine

The more routine in a teen’s day, the less room that there is for anxiety. Create a study routine that is time-limited. Include breaks as part of the routine.

3. Encourage Their Passion

Help your teen find different hobbies, activities, and interests to pursue. This is a distraction from school. Plus,it’s a grea way to help them develop strong confidence.

3. Family Conflicts

Most teens have perfected the art of acting indifferent to their families, but it is truly just an act. Teens care about their families, and if there’s trouble at home your teen will be aware of it.

Adolescents who have more conflicts with their parents have more externalizing and internalizing problems; lower levels of self-esteem, well-being, and adjustment to school; and more frequent substance use

Family conflict was thus found to increase the development of depression, anxiety, conduct problems, and peer problems.

These can cause long-term health issues such as high blood pressure and increase the risks of mental illnesses such as anxiety and depression

Some issues that can cause tension between teenagers and parents are:

  • Homework
  • Sibling rivalries
  • Boundaries
  • Trust

Some teenagers feel their parents need to show more trust and give them more independence, but they also know that parents are mostly just concerned for their safety.

Managing conflict with pre-teens and teenagers

  1. Stay calm and treat your child with respect.
  2. Let them speak and finish what they have to say.
  3. Focus on the issue and avoid general statements about your child.

4. The future

  • Not getting into college
  • Leaving home and being independent
  • Starting college
  • Starting work
  • Choosing the “wrong” career path
  • Not making friends or having a social life

Teenagers often have to make early decisions about school subjects, study, careers and work. In fact, many teenagers are stressed because they believe their grades decide their whole future. Many teens worry about getting into a good college and how they’ll handle being away from their families and homes for the first time.

Talking about these fears can help steer your child on a positive path. Hearing about your own experience with these issues will help them relax and realise you’ve been through the same thing and understand them.

5. Lack of time

It’s stressful to feel like you have too much to do and not enough time to do it. Spending a lot of time on things that aren’t important to you also leads to stress. 

Time management is THE skill that has to be developed during teenagehood. Learning how to manage their time, activities, and commitments will make their life easier and less stressful.

Prioritise

  • Make a list of all their school, home, and social tasks and activities for the day or week. Then rate these tasks by how important or urgent they are.
    • Unimportant tasks are ones that don’t need to be done or that aren’t important 
    • Important tasks are those that are meaningful or important, such as getting their homework and studies done on time.
    • Urgent tasks are those that must be done right away to avoid a major problem. For example, a big test.
  • After the list and ratings are done, evaluate how they currently organise their time. Do they spend a lot of time on things that aren’t important? Do the important tasks often become urgent? What can they do to change things? For example, if you study for 30 minutes every night for a few days before a test, you won’t have to cram for the test the night before.

Keep Procrastination under Control

I refer you to a previous article I wrote on that subject. Read it HERE.

Check on their Level of Commitments

I refer you to a previous article I wrote on that subject. Read it HERE.

As you can see from the list of teen worries, adolescence is a stressful time in life. But, that means it’s also the perfect time for you to teach your children positive coping mechanisms and problem-solving skills, both of which are necessary for them to handle life as an adult. Part of growing up is learning how to take care of oneself. Teens who are not taught methods for coping with stress end up finding destructive ways to manage their lives, such as drinking and drug use, eating disorders, self-injury, teen violence, sex and other risky behaviours. It’s a parent’s role to guide teens in positive ways to manage their life.

How to Relieve your Teen’s Stress?

  • Make sure they get enough sleep every night
  • Let them take time daily to do something they like. (e.g.: llistening to music, dancing, drawing, writing in a journal, reading a good book, taking a walk, or spending time with their pet)
  • Teach them some relaxation techniques (breathing,, meditation (link mine), yoga, etc.).
  • Try not to commit them to too much – keep some free time throughout the week

Does your teen need help? Book your free call and let’s talk about it

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