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5 ways to help your teen overcome the stress of high school

This article talks about tops five things you can do for your teen to help them overcome stressors of high school.

There are few experiences more challenging than high school. It is generally considered the most difficult stage of adolescence; it involves long hours, academic stress and unknowns about the future. For some teens, this can also lead to feelings of helplessness or depression. And yet like all aspects of development, high school offers an opportunity for teen to gain valuable life skills. Here are five ways parents can help their teen overcome the stress of high school:

1) Create a safe environment that allows expression

Parents should strive to create an environment that nurtures dreams and encourages expression without judgment or criticism  (1).   Parents who relate openly with their children provide opportunities for discussion and minimize fear associated with conversation (1). Open conversations promote effective problem solving because a teen knows there is a safe place to discuss dreams and stress (1).

2) Express dreams as possibilities, not probabilities

In expressing dreams for the future , it can be helpful if dreams are framed as “possibilities.” Framing dreams as probabilities leaves children with the belief that their dreams must come true, should fear failure and should fear trying something new because of fear of failing (1). Focusing on possibility over probability focuses child on hope rather than fear.   Parents can help by validating their teen’s dreams without attaching meaning or worth to those dreams because it leaves children open to possibility instead of focused on probability.

3) Improve sleep

Tired teens often struggle to concentrate during the school day, which increases stress levels. Ensuring teens get enough sleep helps them improve grades and allows them to do quality work (1).   Sleep gives dreams time to marinate into dreams that are then remembered more clearly. This helps dreams be more easily recalled in waking hours, which increases the possibility of dreams being realized even if it means dreams are altered during the process of working toward them (1).

4) Provide opportunities for exploration

Providing children opportunities for exploration ensures they have experiences to draw from as they consider their dreams. These experiences give teens information about what is meaningful or pleasurable so dreams can be developed with this information in mind. The ability to experience first-hand whether a dream fits with values will help teens better understand themselves and place greater confidence in following through on dreams (1).  

5) Dream in the moment

One of the most important ways parents can encourage dreams is to dream with their children. Parents who focus on dreams during waking hours develop a common language that facilitates dreams becoming reality. Modeling dreams in waking hours demonstrates how dreams change and morph, which helps prevent dreams from feeling unattainable if they are altered over time (1). As dreams evolve, teens benefit from knowing it’s possible to keep trying even when one or more dreams die out.

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