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Mundane Mondays and teenagers

Sometimes it is so blah outside and inside with this Coronavirus, that we forget that there are important steps that should be and are happening. Feeling the blues is affecting all of us. But when I think about Erik Erikson stages of development, the adolescent stage appears to be speaking to me more. This time of adolescents, age 12-18, Identity vs. role confusion, this 5th stage becomes very important. According to Erikson, "role confusion involves the individual not being sure about themselves or their place in society." This speaks volumes when it comes to adolescence. They are wanting to explore life and to have that halted is quite disruptive.

What a difficult stage to be in with having to navigate not only whats going on in the world, but whats going on inside of you. Historically, the teenage years are difficult to navigate. There is a pull and tug with independence and identity. Letting go of childhood and embracing adulthood. These are polarizing times in themselves, but put all that in one household, 24-7 and wow, there may be combustion. Also, not being with their peers can affect this cycle profusely. To help parents and caregivers deal with these stressful and challenging times, especially while in this self distancing period, here is a list of things to watch out for from

Common sources of stress in teens include:

  • Worrying about schoolwork or grades

  • Juggling responsibilities, such as school and work or sports

  • Having problems with friends, bullying, or peer group pressures

  • Becoming sexually active or feeling pressure to do so

  • Changing schools, moving, or dealing with housing problems or homelessness

  • Having negative thoughts about themselves

  • Going through body changes, in both boys and girls

  • Seeing their parents go through a divorce or separation

  • Having financial problems in the family

  • Living in an unsafe home or neighborhood

  • Figuring out what to do after high school

  • Getting into college

Learn to recognize signs of stress in your teen. Take notice if your child:

  • Acts angry or irritable

  • Cries often or seems teary

  • Withdraws from activities and people

  • Has trouble sleeping or sleeps too much

  • Seems overly worried

  • Eats too much or not enough

  • Complains of headaches or stomachaches

  • Seems tired or has no energy

  • Uses drugs or alcohol

Things that can help your teen

The best thing to help is to be there for your teen. Try not to make any of it there fault, foster and environment of trust and nurturing. Keep the flow of communication open. Remember, we were once in their shoes, even if we did not walk the same path. Take a walk with your teen and open up about your teenage years, it may break the ice. Also, let them know that this is temporary and that some decisions that they make now can be permanent. Also, below are tools from

How you can Help

  • Spend time together. Try to spend some time alone with your teen each week. Even if your teen does not accept, they will notice that you offered. Get involved by managing or coaching their sports team, or by taking part in school activities. Or, simply attend games, concerts, or plays he or she is involved with.

  • Learn to listen. Listen openly to your teen's concerns and feelings, and share positive thoughts. Ask questions, but DO NOT interpret or jump in with advice unless you are asked. This type of open communication may make your teen more willing to discuss their stress with you.

  • Be a role model. Whether you know it or not, your teen looks to you as a model for healthy behavior. Do your best to keep your own stress under control and manage it in healthy ways.

  • Get your teen moving. Getting regular exercise is one of the best ways to beat stress, for both adults and teens. Encourage your teens to find an exercise they enjoy, whether it is team sports or other activities like yoga, wall climbing, swimming, dancing, or hiking. You might even suggest trying a new activity together.

  • Keep an eye on sleep. Teens need plenty of shut-eye. Not getting enough sleep makes it harder to manage stress. Try to make sure your teen gets at least 8 hours of sleep a night. This can be a challenge between school hours and homework. One way to help is by limiting screen time, both TV and computer, in the evening before bed.

  • Teach work management skills. Teach your teen some basic ways to manage tasks, such as making lists or breaking larger tasks into smaller ones and doing one piece at a time.

  • DO NOT try to solve your teenager's problems. As a parent, it is hard to see your child under stress. But try to resist solving your teen's problems. Instead, work together to brainstorm solutions and let your teen come up with ideas. Using this approach helps teens learn to tackle stressful situations on their own.

  • Stock up on healthy foods. Like many adults, teens often reach for unhealthy snacks when they are under stress. To help them resist the urge, fill your fridge and cabinets with veggies, fruits, whole grains, and lean proteins. Skip the sodas and high-calorie, sugary snacks.

  • Create family rituals. Family routines can be comforting for your teen during stressful times. Having a family dinner or movie night can help relieve the stress of the day and give you a chance to connect.

  • DO NOT demand perfection. None of us does everything perfectly. Expecting perfection from your teen is unrealistic and just adds stress.

Remember if you or someone you know needs further help with drug, alcohol or substance abuse, we are here to help

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