By Sandi Schwartz
When we think back to our tween and teenage years, it’s often with a smile on our face. We remember our friends, the parties, and the days out. We think about the subjects that we enjoyed and the fun times that we had at school. We look back on all of the happy times and how carefree we were without any financial responsibilities or commitments. We want to scream at our own kids to enjoy it while it lasts because adult life is much harder and more complicated.
We tend to remember those days with rose-tinted glasses. We think about the happy times, and we compare it to things that we have had to deal with later in our adult life. However, that’s not really how it was at the time. Life as a teenager can be tough. Your hormones are raging while so much is happening all around you. There’s peer pressure, homework, exams to study for, dating, bullying, and nowadays the extra stress of maintaining an active life on social media and dealing with cyberbullying.
It’s all new, there’s so much change in your life, your body is changing, your friends are changing, and life is difficult. So, how can you, as a parent, help your teen to unwind and de-stress even with all of these forces bombarding them? The following stress management activities will be tremendously helpful to your tweens as they work through these anxious times.
Try To Understand Their World
The first step you can take is to try and understand how your tweens are feeling. You need to appreciate that their life isn’t the same as yours was and that their problems are unique to their ownw generation and experience. Be careful not to compare their problems to yours now because that diminishes what they are going through. Sure, teen drama might not be as important as paying the mortgage in the grand scheme of things, but to them right now it feels like the end of the world. Essentially, if you spend more time listening than rehashing your own tween stories, you will be on the right track with your sensitive teen.
Keep The Communication Channel Open
The best thing that you can do is keep talking to them. Ask about their day, their plans for the week, and their hopes and dreams. Talk to them about everything you can think of. Make it your goal to get to know them and their friends and to spend time with them. The teenage years can be so volatile, and we can so quickly lose track of how our kids are feeling and what they are doing. Invite your daughter to tea or your son to hit some tennis balls around together, and use those special moments to strike up a conversation. Check out these other tips for connecting with your teens through compelling conversation.
Occasionally, you might learn things about your tween that you would rather not know. When this happens, it is crucial that you don’t overreact. Again, remember that you made mistakes and did things that your parents would not have liked, too. It is part of growing up, and it’s important that we accept that if we want to retain a meaningful relationship with our teens as they explore the world. If you overreact, they might stop confiding in you, which will only leave you in the dark and even more worried about them.
Get Them Outdoors
Spending time outside getting some exercise is a wonderful way for your teens to de-stress and unwind. It will be an even bigger bonus if you do physical activities together since it can give you a great chance to talk bond. Go for long walks or bike ride together, try new sports, swim, practice yoga, or even try going to the gym together to work out side by side or to take a fitness class you both enjoy. Check out these additional tips for helping your teen stay fit.
Have a Digital Detox
One challenge that today’s teens have to deal with on a daily basis that we did not experience is the internet. They all have phones and are on social media. They are surrounded by images and comments that can hurt them or stress them out 24/7. To help keep this under control and in perspective, consider implementing a digital detox in your home even for a weekend, one day each month, or during special holidays. Everyone in your family pledges to spend less time online and ban phones at the dinner table and during other family time. By taking a much-needed break from the constant flow of information, everyone in the family will have a chance to clear their heads and be more mindful in the moment.
Stress in teens can sometimes build up and lead to other problems. If your teen seems very stressed out and it is affecting their behavior, school performance, or relationships with friends or family, you might want to get professional help. This is especially critical if you are worried at all about mental health issues like anxiety and depression, eating disorders, or self-harm. Call a pediatrician for advice and support, even if you can’t get them to make a visit. There is no shame in getting your teen counseling when they need that guidance.
How do you help your teen calm down?
Originally from the Philadelphia area, Sandi Schwartz is a freelance writer/blogger and mother of two. She has written extensively about parenting, wellness, and environmental issues. You can find her at www.happysciencemom.com – where this article first appeared – and www.sandischwartz.com.