It’s no mystery today that our teens are under a different kind of pressure than we were ever exposed to.
Just take a look around during prom. Our kids aren’t just making a simple phone call like we did. Now when you ask someone to prom there is food and lots of money involved. You go over the top in ways we never dreamed of in the ’80s and ’90s.
Kids aren’t just expected to get a 4.0 grade point average because there is such thing as a 7.0 GPA now.
Throw in the smart phones where their social media accounts can make them feel even more inadequate as they see what everyone else is doing every second, and you have the recipe for a perfect storm. Of course they feel pressure, of course they feel less-than, and it’s our job as parents to not only recognize this, but to help them understand and manage it.
Studies show our teens are more depressed and anxious than ever; research doesn’t lie. That’s scary news for parents because while we have been there, we really have not been here. We didn’t grow up with such pressure. We didn’t have phones to document every mood. If we were bullied or felt pressure at school or during sports, when we went home we got a respite.
There wasn’t so much crap thrown at us, and we know it.
Now all our teens just have to do is pick up their phone as a reminder of what they aren’t doing, or what someone else is doing better. They aren’t getting a break. And for many, it’s clearly too much.
But what can we do?
It’s our job as parents to keep an eye on this even though our kids are growing up and on their way to moving out and starting a life of their own. While they are still in school, while they are still living in our house, we are able to keep a close eye on things and monitor as we see fit.
But how do we know when our teens have had too much? How do we know if they need to scale back or are super stressed out about what kind of over the top party their friends are having for birthday or their graduation?
Grown and Flown talked with Dr. Heather Finlay-Morreale, a pediatrician who says signs our teens aren’t coping well with the pressures and stress are,
“Moodiness, outbursts, or struggling with anxiety and depression.”
We also need to look out for when our teens are withdrawing or seem “paralyzed with indecision in the college application process,” says Dr.Finlay-Morreale, as this is a sign they are going through and feeling too much pressure.
It’s important to ensure they are getting adequate sleep, but also keep an eye on their diet, and let them know they can back off for a while. Dr. Finlay-Morreale also stressed the importance of talking to your pediatrician as soon as possible if you feel you aren’t getting through to your child and they are really suffering.
Dr. Finlay-Morreale adds that both counseling and exercise can also be great ways to help manage stress, but warns some teens may benefit from medication if, “counseling and lifestyle changes do not help.”
If you think your teen in anxious, depressed, or feeling too much pressure, you can never be too careful with that. This is a fragile time in their life and they still need our assistance when it comes to recognizing how much they can handle, and how to keep stress under control so it doesn’t overtake their lives.
We need to keep paying attention and having the conversation with them. And if we feel like it’s not doing the trick, we need to keep working with them until we figure out how to have happy kids.
Because in the end, this is what counts the most.
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