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How to Help Teenagers Cope with Stress?

Questioner

Anonymous

Reply Date

Dec 05, 2017

Question

I recently read an article about that our children in today’s modern world are overloaded and suffer from lots of anxieties we adults put on them. So many things to study at school, many tests and exams, extra curriculum activities, preparation for the university…etc. Obviously, I cannot change the system of education, but as a parent, what can I do to make life less stressful for my children, especially teenagers?

Counselor

Answer


How to Help Teenagers Cope with Stress?

In this counseling answer:

“There are various articles and research pointing towards the hypothesis that kids are more stressed out today than previous generations. There is also research showing they are not. While there are strong arguments on both sides, I think that the best way to address this issue is to monitor your child’s moods. Ensure they are coping well with challenges. Be an open ear for them if they need it as well as be supportive in positive ways that will boost their confidence and perceived abilities in themselves.”


As Salamu Alaykum,

Thank you for writing to us with your concerns. You sound like a really good parent, wanting to balance your child’s life in a proactive way.  It seems that growing up, there is always a lot of responsibilities and stress.

If we look at this issue from a historic (as well as current) perspective, we know that often children had not only a lot of chores at home (or if they lived on farm-farming duties) but also at school as students. Keeping children busy and productive gives them a sense of responsibility, a sense of being part of a collective effort as well as prepares them well for successful work relationships when they do have careers.

Trying to balance school responsibilities and all the things that come with becoming a young productive adult in this world may seem like an overwhelming task. However, children do seem to handle it rather well, especially with parental support and normalcy.

For example, if your child is facing a lot of tests and deadlines, if you are stressing and worrying about it, your child may pick up on your emotional state and assimilate this into their mental framework. In essence, how you react can cause your children to react in the same way- “catching feelings”.  This is called Emotional Contagion according to university sociologist Kei Nomaguchi.

There are various articles and research pointing towards the hypothesis that kids are more stressed out today than previous generations. There is also research showing they are not. While there are strong arguments on both sides, I think that the best way to address this issue is to monitor your child’s moods. Ensure they are coping well with challenges. Be an open ear for them if they need it as well as be supportive in positive ways that will boost their confidence and perceived abilities in themselves.

I would also kindly suggest that teens are taught coping skills as well as ways to reduce stress. These tools will not only be used while going to high school and college but later on in life as well, insha’Allah.

As a parent, you can also help by encouraging positive activities such as exercise, sports, quality social and family time as well as external interests and hobbies which can contribute towards a balanced and less stressful life for teens (and adults). Maintaining a healthy diet, drinking lots of water, and keeping a schedule which includes a getting good night’s sleep is also important, as is prayer, time for going to the Masjid and time for connecting deeply with Allah who is our source of peace and comfort.

It is also advisable to teach our children how to maintain a balance in life and that not all stress is bad.  Jayson points out that “”some parents set out on a mission to get rid of stress in their kids, but the fact is, some degree of stress is very therapeutic and an appropriate amount of stress is what helps us become strong. The hard part is what’s appropriate,” Bradley says. “We do know the more we try to mitigate all stress in our children’s life the less resilient that child becomes and they feel hopeless about their own future.”

I kindly advise that you provide the open dialogue for your child, encourage healthy behaviors mentally, physically and spiritually as well as promote balance, and teach various coping skills as well as relaxation (de-stressing) techniques.

Lastly, in sha’ Allah, try not to stress yourself out over the situation as your teen will pick up on it and perhaps become anxious as well.  I am sure that your child will get through all of these academic requirements and activities just fine, in sha’ Allah.

You are a wonderful parent and your teen is blessed to have you in their corner cheering him/her on!

We wish you the best.

***

Disclaimer: The conceptualization and recommendations stated in this response are very general and purely based on the limited information provided in the question. In no event shall AboutIslam, its counselors or employees be held liable for any damages that may arise from your decision in the use of our services.

Read more:

Islamic Oases From Daily Stress

What Parents & Teens Should Know About Self-Harm

17 Tips for Parents on How to Get Teens Become Practicing Muslims

 




About Aisha Mohammad-Swan

Aisha Mohammad-Swan received her PhD in psychology in 2000. Aisha worked as a Counselor/Psychologist for 12 years for Geneva B. Scruggs Community Health Care Center in New York with a focus on PTSD, OCD, depression, anxiety, substance abuse, marriage/relationships issues, as well as community-cultural dynamics. She is certified in Restorative Justice/ Healing Circles, Conflict Resolution, and Mediation, and is also a certified Life Coach. She is currently studying for her certification in Islamic Chaplaincy, and takes Islamic courses at SHC. Aisha works at a Women's Daytime Drop in Center, and has her own part-time practice in which she integrates counseling and holistic health. Aisha also received an MA in Public Health/Community Development in 2009 and plans to open a community counseling/resource center for Muslims and others in the New York area in the future, in sha' Allah.

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