How to help your stressed-out teen
By: WebmasterDate: Jan 6, 2020 Tags: Plymouth Christian Life
It’s a new year, which means new beginnings and fresh starts to healthy and happy lifestyles. For your student, however, the “new year” started in August when school began, and now they are almost halfway through their grade level. As they are coming back to school, they are weeks away from final exams and the start of the homecoming activities. And let’s not forget their involvement with athletics, robotics, or the upcoming All-School Musical, Disney’s Beauty and the Beast!
One of the best things about being a student at Plymouth Christian is the opportunity to be involved in so many activities. Students are not confined to just one area of involvement; they have the freedom to try a variety of activities and gain the experience they might not otherwise have at a larger school. At Plymouth Christian, we love to call ourselves an “AND” school when it comes to opportunities for our students—not an “OR” school when you have to choose one focus area to join.
As with most things in life, with freedom comes responsibility. So how do students manage their time, energy, and sleep when there is so much they want to do and so little time to do it? As parents, we know this is just the beginning of a lifetime of trying to balance it all. It is our responsibility to teach our children how to manage their time and activities wisely. We have the opportunity to help them learn how to deal with stress before they have the added responsibilities of paying bills, getting a job, and taking care of a family. Here are three critical keys to teach your child how to handle stress:
KEY #1 – KNOW THE WORD
Proverbs 12:25a says “Worry weighs a person down.” Philippians 4:6-7 reminds us that when we feel overwhelmed, we should pray, telling God the things that weigh on our hearts. But there is an added instruction that is vital to help alleviate worry, and that is thankfulness. Something happens to our perspective when we express to God the things we are thankful for amid the stressful times in our lives. Instead of looking down and at our circumstances, we begin to look up and see things from an eternal perspective. We understand that what seems overwhelming at the moment is being held by our loving Heavenly Father, who gives us the strength to accomplish what He has called us to do.
So how do we help our teens stay grounded in the Word so they can cope with the stresses of life? Telling them that they need to read their Bible is true but can be just one more thing to a long list of things they “need” to do! One helpful tool is the “First 5” app in the App Store. It gives a daily verse and devotional each morning that you can discuss together before they start their day.
One significant mistake parents make in trying to help alleviate stress in the child’s lives is to “skip” church or youth group to lessen the number of activities in their child’s life. It’s one of the best strategies of Satan and actually causes MORE stress. Why? Because time in church and with their youth group allows them to be refreshed by the Word and be surrounded by other believers who encourage and pray for them.
KEY #2 – KNOW YOUR LIMITATIONS
Since we know that skipping church isn’t the best idea to reduce stress, what are the areas that we can cut out when life is overwhelming? When it is high-stress time, and you can’t quit the sports team or the robotics team or the play when everyone is counting on you, what do you do? Creating boundaries in your life is a skill many adults have not mastered, and it is even harder for a teenager who may suffer from “FOMO” or “fear of missing out.” In Exodus 18, Moses was leading the Israelites through the wilderness. When his father-in-law, Jethro, observed Moses working morning until evening, he told Moses that what he was doing was not good and that he was going to wear himself out. He then helped Moses formulate a plan to ease his burden, empower others around him, and serve the needs of the people. Some people can juggle many activities and seem to thrive on chaos. Other people can handle one or two things. Have your teen write out all their “to-dos” on a sheet of paper and then help them sort out which ones are important and which ones can wait or even be eliminated. Perhaps there are areas where they can get assistance from you or a sibling or a friend to get it accomplished. Sometimes just the process of prioritizing their activities is enough to ease their stress level and gain the confidence that they can get through this time in their lives. In our children’s junior and senior years of high school, we worked with the school counselor to schedule a first or second-hour study hall because of sports the night before. It helped them manage their homework load and not feel so pressured to stay up late.
KEY #3 – KNOW YOUR “RELEASE VALVE”
Speaking of pressure — a release valve is a type of safety valve used to control the amount of pressure in a system. Without a proper release valve, pressure builds to the point of explosion, fire, or system failure. With a safety valve, the pressure is released, and the system can perform at its maximum capacity. We all need to know our “release valve” when the stress starts to mount, but especially teenagers who are in the early stages of learning how to cope with the many demands of life. My daughter would let the pressure build up throughout her schedule, but we learned that 20 minutes of playing the piano and singing allowed her to calm down and function effectively. One of my sons needed to go on a run outside and then tackle his homework. Another son needed a hot shower. My husband is a firm believer in the 20-minute nap! Whatever it is, help your teen find their “release valve” that will alleviate the pressure that is building inside them.
Plymouth Christian is partnering with you to help your teen not only cope, but thrive in the myriad of activities coming in the next few months!
Leanne Windle, PCA Admission Director