11 Tips For Parents To Help Teens Manage Stress

Vicky Gayle
Jun 03, 2024 By Vicky Gayle
Originally Published on Apr 20, 2020
Young women laughing together dressed casually isolated over yellow wall

Amid daily challenges, it's vital to acknowledge the toll on teen mental health. Teens may not yet have the coping mechanisms that adults possess, and their 'fight or flight' response can become more frequently triggered, highlighting the need for support and understanding as they learn to manage these responses.

While some stress is helpful to develop resilience in our young people and equip them to manage stressful situations – too much can affect sleep, how they process information, and their focus, giving rise to more serious mental and physical health problems.

Hopefully, these stress management tips will open up more conversation at home and teach your teens that a problem shared is a problem halved.

Maintain Routines

Adhering to a regular routine promotes stability for teens, helping to alleviate anxieties associated with change.

Keeping to a consistent daily schedule similar to school hours fosters focus and discipline, while regular waking and sleeping times reinforce their natural circadian rhythm for restorative sleep and a fresh start every morning

Teenage kids standing in front of purple background

Introduce Rituals

Stressful situations can be a force for positive change and get teens to think about how to solve problems in other ways.

By creating rituals it lets them take control of their daily routine and introduce positive new habits which they've chosen for themselves.

An example could be to read a chapter of a book each night, to set an intention for their day each morning or to take five minutes outside in the garden as a reward after studying for an hour.

Rituals can be a fun technique for stress management.

Be Reassuring

Teens are brilliant at accessing information, which has its upsides and downsides because it means they're often bombarded with negative news and incorrect knowledge. Kids need to know they're not alone in how overwhelmed they're feeling, and it will be comforting to know there are others in their family feeling the same way.

Reassuring them will help to manage their stress. They can take comfort in the fact they're not the only one having a hard time.

Encourage Exercise

Experts say exercise should be prescribed for mental health issues because of how transformative it can be.

Exercise is a stress reliever – it boosts the release of feel-good endorphins in our brains to make us feel happier and promotes positive changes in our brains, which improves our stress response.

Adolescents love chilling, but the more ways you can find to encourage them to get their blood pumping, the less stress they'll hold onto in their body.

They'll sleep better too and be able to concentrate more on school work.


Stay Active

There's more than one way to skin a cat. Addressing life's big problems doesn't always mean having what some teenagers might feel is an intimidating and uncomfortable conversation.

Doing your children's favourite activities with them is a healthy way to bond, learn more about them and get them to open up in a more relaxed atmosphere, which will lessen their stress levels. While you're painting, baking or doing a TikTok challenge, ask them how they're doing and let the conversation flow from there.

Family Dinner

Mealtimes give families a chance to connect and reflect on things as a unit.

Dinner time also gives children a window of opportunity to share their thoughts without judgement. If you're able to carve out dinner time, breakfast (or both) to eat together, it will help to strengthen family ties, reduce stress by having that constant amongst the uncertainty, and make way for conversation without any distractions.

Kitchen table talk is also an extension of school – scientists have found a link between how often a child has family dinner and their academic performance.


Practise Mindfulness

Mindfulness at its simplest is the act of being present in the moment so not dwelling on the past or contemplating the future. Mindfulness encourages a person to be more aware of how they think, feel and behave.

If we apply this principle to the stress response, it could help your teenager for the entire family to reflect on how they respond to stress and how they might change their response for the better.

Through mindfulness, young people can begin to recognise their automatic responses to triggers and the power of their mind to control and change how they feel.

What teenager doesn't want to learn they have superpowers? !


Deep Breathing

Most of us don't breathe correctly – our breaths are shallow from the chest instead of intentional and deep from the pit of our stomachs.

According to the Harvard Medical School, breathing like this restricts the space our diaphragm has to move so our lungs don't intake all the oxygen they should, making us feel short of breath and anxious.

As well as oxygen coming in, we want as much carbon monoxide to be breathed out.

When we're stressed, we're more likely to hold our breath.

Make deep breathing activities a must for the entire family. Throw some cushions on the living room floor, tell Alexa to play a jazz mix and take a purposeful break together with your teens.

Use Music For Relaxation

Sometimes music is a perfect remedy for stress. You can get lost in the rhythm. Focusing on the beats can distract you from your own feelings and the right piece of music will create a sense of calm in the home.

The British Association for Music Therapy says "everyone has the ability to respond to music" and music therapy will "build on this connection to facilitate positive changes in emotional wellbeing and communication". Could you find time for a  jam session if there are instruments at home?

What about a DJ soundclash using YouTube? Do your teens love to sing, write songs or poetry? Stress can be combated in lots of ways and music can definitely help.


Get Outside

It's crucial to motivate teens to get outdoors and step away from screens.

Whether your older kids go on a walk alone or with the rest of the family, it's been proven that spending time out in nature is an effective way to minimise stress.

At the very least, if you've got a balcony or garden, gently push them to spend an hour or so out there to get some fresh air.

This shift in environment, soaked in nature, offers a beneficial contrast to time spent inside and is an uplifting part of any day.

Acknowledge Feelings

Teens juggle many challenges, from social shifts to academic uncertainties. It's important to recognize that these stressors can deepen pre-existing anxieties.

Often, they might conceal their stress to avoid overwhelming their parents. Offer a listening ear and validate their feelings; understanding and empathy from a parent can be a powerful step in helping them navigate their concerns.

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Written by Vicky Gayle

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Vicky Gayle

Vicky is an avid explorer living in Birmingham and is an auntie to four nieces and nephews. She believes in being a tourist in her own town and enjoys discovering new experiences. She has a Bachelor's degree in Journalism from the University of Central Lancashire. Vicky loves to share her finds and regularly sends event ideas to her friends. As many of her friends are parents, she is always on the lookout for child-friendly activities to recommend. Vicky is open-minded and willing to try most things at least once.

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