How well do you know young people’s stress?
We all know teenagers who are stressed out. Some of them live in our homes, others walk in and out of our youth ministries each week.
Many of them let us know—in clear, overt ways—that they’re feeling overloaded, overextended, and simply overdone.
But do we always know what’s going on?
The American Psychological Association suggests that often adults are unaware of the stress level kids in their lives are experiencing. They offer these tips on learning to recognize signs that kids are becoming overwhelmed by stress:
- Watch for negative changes in behavior. Growing moodiness, withdrawal, changes in sleep patterns, and emotional extremes can all be “normal” parts of adolescence. But sudden or marked shifts can be warning signs.
- Understand that “feeling sick” may be an indicator of stress. Stomach aches and headaches can be triggered by stress.
- Be aware of how they interact with others. Keep connected with other adults in your kids’ lives (youth workers, teachers, coaches) and ask them to let you know if your kids show any concerning changes in behavior that they aren’t showing at home.
- Listen and translate. Children and teenagers might not use the word “stress”, and some teenagers might express stress by saying negative things about themselves or others.
- Seek support. From youth leaders, other parents, and perhaps a professional counselor if things become overwhelming.
Take a few moments this week to check in with a young person you know, or with your own kids if you’re a parent, to ask them how stressed they’re feeling and how they think they’re managing that stress.
What other tips do you have for recognizing or helping young people deal with stress?
Posted September 17 2012 by