How stresses arrive? 

As parents, we all share a unifying goal. Seeing our children happy. We weed out and do whatever it takes to preserve their laughter ringing in our ears. But, sometimes, uninvited and uninitiated by them, stresses can be triggered in our lives and theirs.

Sometimes, its children who don’t want to do their homework. Other times, they’ll keep crossing you all evening. Or your boss needs something that turned from a priority to urgent in a matter of minutes.

Once I told my son, “I really want you to pay attention. Don’t get into any legal trouble in life.” He replied, “OK then, I’ll get into illegal trouble” Times like those, I’m splitting up in laughter for his word play and also stressed and frustrated about him not paying attention.

But, I’ve slowly started to understand him and his emotions.

A typical Q&A session at a child therapist: 

1. What delights you in your child?
a. Cuddly, well adapted in a new environment.
b. They’re fun, when they’re sweet.

2. What stresses you about your child?
a. He’s almost a teenager, but still whines.
b. He’s not caring and rude some times.

3. What puzzles you about your child?
a. My child seems to be two people in one, and I’m confused to look out for who will it be at any given time. The good one or the terrible one?
b. How, how, how, can my child be so lazy?

Typical adolescent emotions: 

  • Angry
  • Tired
  • Fear
  • Sad
  • Overwhelmed
  • Happy
  • Worried
  • Surprised
  • Frustrated
  • Disgust
  • Joy

Normal emotional development in teens: 

Adolescents struggle with being a child and with being an individual. Some times they act like two year olds with no emotional control. Most times they feel frustrated that they can’t get their emotions across. They’re even famous for stomping away by saying, “You just don’t understand!”

Read more on factors influencing emotional development in teenagers. 

Signs of stress: 

  • Mood swings and irritability
  • Lack of focus
  • Insomnia
  • Lack of patience
  • Weight gain or loss
  • Persistent anxiety
  • Persistent depression
  • Physical illness (aches and pains)

How to parent teens: 

Hug first, ask questions later:

I’m learning to be a mom of a teenager. When I lose my temper trying to make my son see my point of view, there are unwanted reactions from the other side and the situation quickly goes downhill from there.

I’ve learnt to hug first and ask questions later. What if the hugs are met with a “Go away!”?? I’ll learnt to remember to come back later and then give that hug.

No blood, no foul:

Sibling fights are a staple in our house. So, I’ve made conscious decisions about when to intervene in fighting. I’ve found a rule that really helps.

Unless its not life and death, or no one’s is bleeding, following “No blood, no foul” rule. Its life, they’ll learn to sort things out most of the times.

Biggest stress trigger in teens: 

Its found that the most important concern teenagers seem to have is not having enough privacy.

What teens want: 

  • They love it when they’re involved.
  • They like contributing and making a difference.
  • They want to do well.
  • They want to have friends.

What teens are fearful of: 

Forget you (parents), teens are constantly anxious of not meeting peer expectations. Other things that worry children are:

  • Someone dying
  • Failure at school
  • Not doing well in class
  • Text anxiety
  • Not fitting in

Positive impact of stress on children: 

Look, no one needs a stress free child, who’s chilled out to the point of no ambition. Stress upto a certain point is beneficial for optimal performance. No stress leads to boredom and depression. Healthy competitive stress improves motivation and interest at the task at hand.

  • Motivation
  • Increased productivity
  • Improved cognitive focus
  • Increased physical performance

Negative impact of stress on children: 

  • Overeating
  • Insomnia
  • Physical illness (Back aches, stomach aches etc)
  • Compromised immune system
  • Bad judgment
  • Lower productivity
  • Ruminating
  • Anxiety
  • Bad decisions
  • Emotional meltdown

How social media triggers stress:

The ubiquity of social media is undeniable. And the community and connectedness and the communication options it provides is priceless. But with good comes the bad.

Thanks to the digital revolution, the brain at the end of the day has no down time. And there’s that pressure to always post positive things. There are also pressures to get likes, and most sadly, the evil of cyber bullying.

Some of the social media induced stress triggers that kids experience are:

  • Feeling replaceable
  • Too much communication
  • FOMO
  • Attachment to devices constantly

Recommended Reads: 

  1. Practical strategies on how to mitigate stress: Read here.
  2. Want to know how to get children to talk? Read here.

 

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