Stress in Teens- Parent- Child Relationship

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If you think that adults are the only ones overworked and overstressed these days, think again. With increasing responsibilities, children, especially pre-teens and teenagers, are feeling the pressure. Who wouldn’t be stressed out with thirty hours of school a week, homework, part-time jobs, sports, and other organized activities. All of this doesn’t leave much time for a bit of well-deserved leisure.

On top of all this pre-teens and teenagers are in a difficult and sometimes awkward stage in their lives. Going through puberty, the need for acceptance and fear of rejection by peers, as well as the pressures of sex, drugs and alcohol all add up in creating more stress.

As a teenager it is also time to start thinking about attending college or university. The need for fitting in essential study time and getting good grades to get into the school of their choice can create a great deal of pressure. The fear of leaving all their long time friends at high school as well as their family and going to a college in another city or even a different part of the country, while exciting, can also be very nerve racking.


Parents can do several things to help alleviate stress in their children’s lives. The first step is to recognize the key warning signs such as a change in behaviour, aggression, physical illness, and social withdrawal. Pre-teens and teenagers do not necessarily know what stress feels like, they may be confused as to why they are feeling this way and therefore they are ill-equipped to deal with it. This is all the more reason for parents to keep an eye out.

Once they are made aware of these stress indicators, several actions can be done to help your children cope. The stress should be identified so appropriate actions can take place. Sometimes just elimination of one after school activity or working one less shift at that part-time job can make a world of difference. You should have an open line of communication with your children so they feel comfortable coming to you and discussing their problems and concerns.

Sometimes parents inadvertently add to stress loads of their children. Setting expectations too high can set your children up for failure and therefore increase the pressure. Demanding that your child is first in their class, or that he or she must get the gold medal at the swim meet can be quite stressful on a teenager. Instead set reasonable goals with your children and be sure to give lots of positive reinforcement, letting them know you’re proud of them as long as they tried their best.

As a parent, you run the risk of transferring your stress to your child. If your teenagers continuously see you in a state of anxiety it will most likely be rubbed off on them. It is also important to remember some issues and problems you may have are better discussed with other adults; they will be more able to understand your concerns. Pre-teens and teenagers are very impressionable, if you model good stress management coping skills your children will most likely follow suit.


If actions are not immediately taken to deal with stress in children it can have an adverse effect on parent child relationships. The teen will withdraw contact, becoming less social to his or her parents and other family members. Arguments and disagreements will arise between parents and siblings. If the key symptoms of stress are not recognized, family members may be left confused and hurt as to why their once friendly, social child, brother or sister has withdrawn and is always arguing. This in turn will cause more resentment between family members, which can easily be prevented by observation of behaviour, and a few simple newly acquired skills.

The same techniques used to deal with stress in adults can be applied to pre-teens and children.

  • Physical exercise and sports without a high level of competition or fear of failure can be very beneficial.
  • Spending time with friends and family laughing together and having fun can truly loosen you up.
  • Teach your children to relax; deep breathing and thinking calm thoughts can really help.
  • Ensure that your children are sleeping the recommended hours every night. That is 8.5-9.5 hours/night for teenagers and around 10 hours for children twelve and under.
  • Thinking positive thoughts everyday can make children feel happier and therefore reduce stress.

These are just a few simple steps that can be practised every day to make pre-teens and teenagers reduce the stress of their hectic and changing lives.

About The Author:

Kate Richardson is a successful author and contributor regarding articles on nutrition, health and fitness.



Steven Dowshen, MD, and Edward Woomer, LCSW

What’s Worrying You

D'Arcy Lyness, PhD

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