Many of us look back fondly on our teenage years, but, if we are really honest, we may be viewing them with rose-colored glasses. Try to remember all of the things that bothered you when you were a teenager, all the worries that now seem out of proportion, and the sheer angst that you felt at times. It wasn’t that being a teen was bad – and many of those good memories are real – but the things that hurt so badly at the time seem to fade as time passes.
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Modern teenagers face all of the issues that we did when we were growing up, and also have to deal with a range of problems that we never dreamed about. Bullying is on the rise – just listen to the headlines almost every day on cyber bullying. Peer pressure is also increasing – for example, girls are expected to conform to unrealistic and unhealthy body stereotypes. Is it any wonder that your teenager is stressed out? And, what can you do about it?
One thing you can do is to keep them busy. This may seem strange, given the common view that teenagers just don’t have enough hours in the day. However, while it is important for them to have downtime, it is not their constant activities that cause stress, but instead the expectations that surround them. In fact, engaging in strenuous sports or interesting hobbies actually reduces your teen’s stress levels, but if you shout at them from the sidelines when they do something wrong, you quickly undo all of those benefits. Instead of driving them to do better, praise them for their achievements and don’t blame them when they fail. Also, remember that your teen has pressure to achieve from many different directions, so you need to help them to deal with this. One important aspect of doing this is to show them that qualities such as honesty, teamwork, kindness and even a good sense of humor are more important than succeeding at all costs.
Schoolwork can also put huge amounts of pressure on teens, especially if they want to succeed and are struggling. Take the time to help them with their homework where you can, and get help for them where you can’t. For instance, take the time to learn more about what private tuition options are available, or see if one of your relatives or friends can help out. As coursework gets more complicated, it can become increasingly difficult for parents to keep up, especially when they have their own work to worry about.
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