Relieving the stresses and pressures on kids
- Posted by:
- Michael Grose
Recently I received a post on my Michaelgroseparenting Facebook
page asking my thoughts about young people and stress. In particular, whether there are more stresses or is helicopter parenting causing greater anxiety.
Hmmm! Good question.
Young people today are experiencing more pressure than ever. The DOLLY Youth Monitor 2011, which I was a contributor and spokesperson for, revealed that there was indeed a spike in anxiety and stress levels in 14-17 year olds.
Three in five young people felt a great need to reduce stress. Girls are more likely than boys to be stressed.
The greatest source of stress for today’s teens is the pressure they put on themselves. Teen girls especially seem to believe that they have to exceed at everything they do, and seem to have created an impossibly high standard. 75% of girls want to be fitter; 65% want to get better marks; and 60% want to be more confident. Fear of not fitting in and of social isolation is a big worry for girls. Boys, it seems are worried about fitting in, but not to the same extent as girls.
And what about external pressures?
Three in four teenagers identified teachers as being the greatest source of pressure, while 58% say pressure comes from parents to lift their game academically. The push for academic success certainly places added pressure on young people at a vulnerable stage of development.
Teens also worry about their families. One in five worry that their parents will divorce. This is obviously concerning when their safe refuge is unstable at a volatile developmental stage. This impacts on their emotional development.
How do young people relieve pressure?
Young people relieve pressure in healthy and unhealthy ways. Some eat too much; some admit to using alcohol and others get totally lost online. (Nothing wrong with escaping but you need to be placed firmly in the real world).
More than one in four turns to music as a release, which is something that teenagers have always done. Sport, exercise and hanging out with friends are other healthy ways teens use to de-stress.
Here's how you can help young people maintain good mental health:
1. Maintain regular contact through family mealtimes.
There is a correlation between families that have 5-6 meals together a week and good mental health. Mealtimes give you a chance to monitor their moods and also to talk, which is therapeutic.
2. Help them get plenty of sleep.
We under –estimate the impact of sleep. It’s vital for good well-being. Teens need plenty, but often get less as they get older. Learn more about good sleep hygiene
so you can assist them get a good night’s sleep.
3. Make sure they have someone to confide in.
Girls are more likely to talk to a friend, and boys are more likely to talk to a family member when life gets tough. Help them identity or find someone to talk with.
4. Let them do something unproductive every day.
Doing nothing is good for your mental health. It takes many forms- surfing the net, watching movies, talking to friends, playing with a pet, strumming a guitar, listening to music..........
5. Encourage volunteering.
The Positive Psychology movement strongly advocates volunteering
as a way of relieving stress as it takes young people out of themselves, letting them do things where they don’t have to excel. Helping releases endorphins, which are the feel-good chemicals impacting on kids’ moods. The same thing happens when they are hugged. That leads me to a sixth idea......
6. Help young people feel loved and loveable.
Being told by people close to you that you are loved and loveable has always been good for your well-being. Sometimes in the endless striving for good parenting strategy we sometimes forget that it’s the 'heart things' as opposed to the 'head things' that we do that make the biggest difference.
We all want our kids to be happy. Well, good mental health is central to kids' happiness and well-being. It's something that parents need to attend to, regardless of their children's ages.
Writer's NOTE: If you found this article useful please share it with someone else (see Share options below). I passionately believe that mental health awareness is something that as a community we need to get better at. I hope this article helps.
- anxiety, good, health, mental, pressure, stress, teenagers, well-being