Did you know that teens often undergo more stress than adults? It’s a shocking but true reality found in a study conducted by the American Psychological Association. In today’s blog post, we’ve compiled a helpful list of ten signs of stress you should watch for in your teen.
You may take an initial glance at this list and think, “My kid has a few of these issues every day. How am I supposed to know if they’re warning signs?” Teens do experience regular ups and downs in adolescence, which is why two simple principles are key for parents: Know your child and notice change.
They key to recognizing unhealthy levels of stress in your teen is to know when they deviate from their normal.
If your teen doesn’t usually have issues with particular grades or classes but are now struggling, it can be a sign that they’re operating under stress. In addition, a lack of interest or weakening performance in extracurricular activities like sports or clubs can also indicate stress.
Poor Health and Dietary Changes
Watch your child for consistent physical symptoms like headaches, stomachaches, or colds. Bodies under duress contract viruses more often, and discomfort can result in changes in diet or appetite.
Sleep problems can materialize differently for everyone. For some it looks like insomnia or just increased difficulty in following asleep. For some, it looks like exhaustion and more sleeping than usual. For others, it can just turn into an erratic pattern of sleep.
Changes in Relationships
Even if your teen may seem to have no changes in their relationship with you or their siblings, they may be different with friends, teachers, coaches, or other key figures in their life. Maintain a good communication network with their friend’s parents and the adults in their life so you know when something changes in your child’s behavior towards these people.
Increased isolation is a clear warning sign that something is amiss in your teen’s life. If your child begins avoiding friends, family, and social situations that they normally used to enjoy, they may be feeling overwhelmed and therefore want less stimulation in their life.
Is your teen struggling with finishing tasks? Focusing on homework? Are they distant in conversations? This type of brain fog or distraction can be a sign of stress.
Black and white, all or nothing negativity is a sign that your teen’s thought life is undergoing the hazards of stress. If you hear them saying things like, “no one likes me” or “I’m a failure” or “there’s no reason to try anymore,” then they first need a loving conversation with you to remind them of their valuable identity and worth. Then you can talk about the possible stressors in their life causing their negativity.
Your teen may not tell you that they’re stressed, but listen when they use words like “afraid” or “confused” or “anxious” or just display general feelings of unease with life. You should also pay attention if they talk often about bigger fears, such as dying or losing a parent or failing in activities or friendships.
Quick Anger and Frustration
If your teen has started throwing angry words like they used to throw two year old tantrums, it could be a notable behavioral cue. Stress can cause teens to be quickly frustrated and say things they normally wouldn’t say. This is especially true in issues that wouldn’t typically cause them to have such strong reactions.
Neglect of Responsibilities
Messy room? Missed homework? Late to work? It’s normal for teens to avoid chores and occasionally miss assignments and sometimes arrive late to commitments, but when it becomes a consistent problem, it’s time to check in with them.
Parent's, it's important to know these signs because you can play an important role in recognizing and helping your teen cope with unhealthy stress. Remember: know your child and notice change. When you know their unique patterns, you’ll notice any abnormal behaviors. Then you and your teen can start a conversation and take the steps necessary towards healthier stress management.