Families, Stress and Health
Dr. Greg Allen, Ph.D., LMFT
The mission of Freedom4U is to enrich the lives of teens and their parents. We fulfill this mission through creative arts, life skills, leadership and service. Parent education is part of our life skills focus is to provide healthy guidance to parents.
There are many teens today who are faced with the stress of; busy schedules, striving to excel in academically, participating in extracurricular activities such as sports, service and other hobbies.
Here are some symptoms of the psychological impact of stress for teens:
- Depression, loss of interest, isolation
- Anxiety, can’t relax/sleep, panic attacks
- Caffeine, alcohol & drug abuse
- Eating Disorders & Body Image Problems
- Unhealthy Relationships
- Compulsions & Addictions, Acting Out
- Poor school performance
- Communication problems
- Headaches & other health problems
Many parents struggle to manage guiding their teens through the busy high school years. We sought out to find some tips for parents of younger students. Our plan was to survey experts who work with teens daily in order to assist parents of middle school students as they prepare for the teens years. We surveyed administrators and counselors from several South Bay school districts.
The question we posed them to answer was:
‘If you could give some recommendations to parents of middle school students as they look ahead to the high school years; what would it be?’
Here is a summary of their suggestions:
- Many teens are over burdened with extra-curricular activities.
- Allow your kid to be independent & begin to start advocating for themselves, talking to counselors & teachers respectfully.
- Keep in contact with school counselors and don’t let other parents stress you out.
- Help your son/daughter find what they are passionate about and do it vs. doing things they don’t enjoy.
- Pick realistic class schedule based upon accurate achievement vs. pushing into Honors and AP when they are not ready.
- Be a parent vs. a friend, it’s OK to say NO.
- Monitor the digital world, review parenting website:
- There is a place for every kid at school. Sports, clubs. Don’t compare self.
They will fit in somewhere. Work with counselors to find what’s best.
- It would be more productive for parents to approach teachers in a non-confrontational, non-accusatory stance; such as ‘help me understand what is going on in class.’
- Middle school is a time for kids to make mistakes & learn from mistakes.
- Allow kids to experience the consequences of their behavior.
- Most middle school kids don’t know how to study; practice & find a study strategy that works. Encourage feedback to teachers.
- Evaluate the balance of time spent on; homework, extra-curricular activities
- Help your child learn to de-stress, relax in healthy ways.
- Be a role model regarding your lifestyle and coping with stress.
- Be a listener, not a lecturer to your child.
- Know your child’s friends and what they are doing.
- Give them opportunities to learn from their mistakes.
- Don’t forget to tell and show your love to your child. (just not in front of their friends!’)
- Spend time together as a family and one on one.
- Consider aiming for a balanced lifestyle by incorporating play/fun, spiritual habits, reading for interest, writing for expression, listening or playing music, do art.
By being intentional regarding our schedule and what we put into it; we can reduce our stress, eliminate the unhealthily consequences of stress and enjoy our personal life and relationships more.