Being a teenager is tough. What’s even tougher, is that many don’t understand how challenging and ever changing it can be.
Kids being expected to act like adults, when their brain is still developing and they simply don’t know how to act like an adult (their brain doesn’t completely finish developing until their mid 20s!)
Common Stressors and Challenges Your Teen May be Experiencing
School Stress – it’s hard to find enough time in the day to complete everything for school – projects, assessments and prepare for exams.
Sports/Activity Performance – the feeling like there is pressure to perform well all the time. Do they have the energy for it? Do they enjoy the activity anymore?
Home Stress – feeling misunderstood, and that those around them don’t understand what they’re going through.
Body Changes – unsure of the changes, are they normal, wondering if they should be having the same changes as the kid next to them? These changes can bring different emotions, stress, uncertainty and feelings that it’s ‘hard for them’.
Social Media – how much are they on social media? How does it affect them? Does their mood change after being on social media – does it energise or drain them?
6 Ways Your Teenager Can Thrive
With your help and a little guidance and understanding of these issues (and that they’re normal and okay), your teen can really turn stress, worry and uncertainty into being able to cope, feel less pressured, and succeed in their adolescent years.
Between the ages of 13-18 on average we need 8 – 10 hours of sleep daily. Many kids or parents may think that sleep is time wasted, but all the learning and physical movement they are doing will be consolidated in the brain during sleep. Sleep helps with focus, helps us to perform well, it regulates our emotional state, supports mental and physical growth, repairs muscle and supports fat loss.
A balanced diet is important for gut and brain health. It is important to make sure that your teenager receives a variety in their diet to feed the healthy bacteria and microbiome in the gut. Research shows that there is a direct link between what we eat (the gut health) and how we feel (our mood and brain health). A fun way to do this is using the colours of different veggies and food types as a guide to healthy diet, ensuring you have some variety.
- Movement (Sports/Activities)
Besides making their muscles stronger and supporting healthy physical growth, exercise helps improve mood and increases self-confidence. Sporting teams can give teenagers a sense of belonging and connection to others, which also increases their ability to work
This means your teen learning to self-reflect or check in with themselves. Checking in with their own emotions and changes that are happening beyond just the physical body changes is just as important.
It is good for them to remember to pause and ask themselves: How do I feel?; Why do I feel this way?; Have I had enough sleep?; Maybe too many unhealthy indulgences (unbalanced diet)? Have my feelings/mood changed based on my sleep, eating habits, or lack of exercise?; How are my friendships going?; Am I treating others properly?; How do I like to show up for myself and others?; What traits do I want in a friend?; Am I behaving with those traits when I connect with others?
Sometimes teens find it hard to connect and open up to family and friends. But it is important for them to feel they are able to talk about things that are important to them. And to feel they can trust that person they choose to talk to. Talk to your teenager and let them know it is okay to open up about your emotions and reach out to others. Telling them it takes courage to ask for help when you need it is a great way for them to feel more comfortable, and know that they can be open with you.
Make sure your teenager has a hobby, an activity, or something they get enjoyment out of. This makes them feel engaged and good about their abilities. If they don’t have a hobby, sit with them and talk through some ideas. What are they good at? E.g. dancing, board games, making someone laugh? Narrow down some options from there. Encourage them to try something new that they’ve always wanted to try. With a mindset that is open and willing to test and trial new things, your teen is engaging all their senses in the process of learning. This helps them to become more adaptable and flexible to changes in life.
Written by Therapist Lana Jaff – www.creatingchange.net.au