How well do you know young people’s stress?

Brad M. Griffin | Sep 17, 2012

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 knowin clear, overt waysthat theyre feeling overloaded, overextended, and simply overdone.

But do we always know whats 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:

  1. 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.
  2. Understand that feeling sick may be an indicator of stress. Stomach aches and headaches can be triggered by stress.
  3. 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 arent showing at home.
  4. 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.
  5. 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 youre a parent, to ask them how stressed theyre feeling and how they think theyre managing that stress.

What other tips do you have for recognizing or helping young people deal with stress?

Brad M. Griffin

Brad M. Griffin is the Senior Director of Content for the Fuller Youth Institute (FYI), where he develops research-based training for youth workers and parents. A speaker, blogger, and volunteer youth pastor, Brad is the coauthor of Faith in an Anxious World, Growing Young, several Sticky Faith books, Every Parent’s Guide to Navigating Our Digital World, and the series Can I Ask That?: 8 Hard Questions about God and Faith. Brad and his family live in Southern California.


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