DOVER — As a parent, you always want what is best for your child. And you want to help them in any way possible to ensure their happiness and success.
Not surprisingly, school tends to be one of the greatest causes of stress in teens.
Behavioral health provider Su Chafin of Bayhealth Family Medicine, Dover, offered some insight on how parents can help their teens with school-related stress:
- For teens, there is an ever-present pressure to be well-rounded. That means doing well in school, playing one or more sports and participating in school clubs. As a parent, you can help relieve stress by making sure that the activities your teen is taking on are manageable. Being overscheduled and getting stretched thin will only cause more stress in the long run. It’s important to remind your teen that being able to do one or two things well is better than trying to take part in as much as possible and will help alleviate the stresses associated with an overbooked calendar.
- If your teen doesn’t like to talk openly about the stress they are under, parents should know what signs of stress to look for. Stress can reveal itself differently for everyone, but some common signs in teenagers are grades dropping, any kind of behavioral change and a sudden drop in usual activities. High amounts of stress can also lead to drug and alcohol use, as well as physical sickness.
- If you start to notice signs of stress affecting your teen, but he or she doesn’t want to talk to you about it, there are still ways that you can get them the help they need. Calling the school counselor or scheduling a family therapy appointment are positive ways to take action without singling out your teen. Always speak to them with the same kind of respect that you would desire and make sure that they know it is OK if they don’t want to talk to you about it. Let them know that it is safe to see a professional and work together to find a therapist who is a good match.
- Just like any adult suffering from stress, it is always encouraging to know that someone is in your corner when things get overwhelming. The same goes for your teen. Let he or she know that you are there for them and that you want to help. Adolescents really are just like tiny adults, but they are not yet equipped with the years of life experiences that adults have to help work through difficult circumstances. Staying plugged in and attentive to their stress levels is key to being able to provide them with aid when you notice that the stress might be too much for them. If your teen starts seeing a therapist, you can show support by trusting the work the therapist is doing. By showing your support, this will reinforce the positive aspect of therapy and help mitigate the negative stigma around seeing a therapist.
Bayhealth offers Wellness Centers at high schools throughout Kent and Sussex counties, including Caesar Rodney, Dover, Milford, Woodbridge, Lake Forest, Polytech and Smyrna. The centers have providers who offer mental and emotional health services to teens, as well as other services. Ms. Chafin is also accepting new patients. Her office can be reached at 302-725-3200.