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The Telltale Signs: 4 ways to know your teen is too stressed

The Telltale Signs: 4 ways to know your teen is too stressed

Teens have a lot going on in their lives. Between school, activities, and friends, they have a lot to juggle. These factors make stress a natural thing for them to feel.

With stress piling on, it’s very important to stay engaged in the life of your teenager. Be active in asking questions. Spend time with them regularly and stay updated on what they’re doing during the week and on weekends. By staying involved, you’ll be able to notice when something isn’t quite right with your teenager.

To make sure that your teen isn’t too stressed, there are a few changes to keep an eye out for.

We found four warning signs that show your teen is too stressed:

  1. Social life

According to Pam Stoelzel with CoxHealth, the social life of a teen can tell you a lot about their stress level. Often when teens are overwhelmed, they will begin to withdraw. This is because they’re likely to feel like they don’t have time to be social.

If you notice your teen staying home more or avoiding their friends, start a conversation. Take them out for coffee and check on what’s going on in their life. At times, teens can set their expectations for themselves too high. Listen as they talk about their stress. You might be able to help them see places where they might be expecting too much from themselves. Let them know that they’re still a teen, and can relax. Reassure them that it’s healthy for them to prioritize and have a social life.

  1. Changes in mood

Another warning sign of excessive teen stress is a change in irritability. Added stress may cause your teen to argue more. Their backtalk to you and other family members might also increase. Shifts in mood can be normal for the teenage years. With their brains and bodies changing, some irritability can be expected. But, a drastic change is a safe indicator something is bothering your teen.

It’s normal to get frustrated with your teen during these mood swings. But, the best thing you can do as a parent is to talk with them. Wait until they calm down and then take the chance to talk with them. Ask them about what’s going on in their life and help them prioritize the things that may stress them out.

  1. Declining academics

Many times, high levels of stress will stem from pressure about school performance and the future. For some students, this can make learning more difficult. The added pressure can interrupt sleep, distract from class, and make it hard to concentrate. These factors can hurt your teen and their ability to do well in school. 

If you notice that your teen is struggling, ask them about their workload. See if there are any ways you can help them adjust. Maybe they need to take fewer high-level classes or cut a few things out of their week. Whatever they need to do, let your teen know it’s important for them to practice self-care.

  1. Unusual behavior

With extra stress, you might notice some changes in your teen’s behavior. You may find out that they’re acting out or skipping school. In some cases, teens might also begin experimenting with substances like alcohol to cope with their stress.

When these behaviors begin to show, talk with your teen as soon as you can. Let them know that while they might think drinking could ease their stress in the short-term, it will only make them more stressed in the end. Explain some of the ways your teen can cope in a healthy way. And tell them that no matter what they’re feeling, drinking underage is never a safe or acceptable choice.

While these conversations can be difficult to have with teens. The American Phycology Association encourages parents to know that talking with teens about stress creates a safe harbor. Conversations like these empower your teen to know that they can talk with you about anything. These conversations will show your teen you are a safe place for them to come when they face the trials of life.

Kaitlyn Inman
kaitlyn@missourisafeandsober.com
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