Today’s teens are feeling increasingly overwhelmed, stressed and anxious, warns the American Psychological Association. In fact, many adolescents actually experience more stress than adults. Studies report that common reasons for this include high parental expectations, the pressure of extracurricular activities and the need to succeed academically.

As a parent or caring adult, you can make a difference. When life gets difficult and your teen faces a challenge, such as failing their driver’s license test or scoring poorly on a college entrance exam, you can show them the way.

Psychologists report that teenagers model the behaviors and emotional responses of the adults in their lives. By showing them how to handle life’s difficulties and cope with disappointment, you help them to succeed now and also set them up for a lifetime of healthy coping strategies.

1. Practice Makes Perfect

A team of researchers at New York University did a nationwide study about the worries, pressures and behaviors of America’s top-performing high school students. They found that taking difficult exams, such as college entrance tests for highly selective schools, was one of the most common anxieties for teenagers.

Failing a test can feel devastating in the face of such pressure. The researchers noted that the top-performing students turned to healthy preventative activities — namely, more planning and more studying. By investing in more practice and more planning, your teenager can build the confidence and the skills to overcome a failed test.

Take your teenager’s driving for example. Getting a learner’s permit or a driver’s license is a major milestone and helps your teen gain independence, and failing the exam can feel crushing and embarrassing. The more your teen practices, the greater his or her chances of success. And it doesn’t have to be expensive either. There are many free online tools like driving-tests.org that can build confidence for your teenager.

2. Guide Them Toward Healthy Coping Mechanisms

In the NYU study, many teenagers reported turning to substance abuse to cope with disappointment. Unfortunately, this can sabotage your teen’s chances of future success. Instead, help your teenager to find healthier ways to overcome a challenge.

If your teen is feeling depressed or disappointed, one of the best ways to boost their mood and manage stress is through a physical activity that your teenager enjoys. Between taking practice driving tests, applying for college or working on a resume, encourage your teen to go to the gym, swim, walk the dog or hike in the great outdoors. These activities can lift their spirits and give them an emotional buffer to tackle the challenge again.

3. Help Them to Keep Everything in Perspective

Maintain open communication with your teenager. In the face of what might feel like failure, talk the situation through with them and help them frame the situation in a way that keeps a healthy perspective on the matter. Sure, failing that driver’s test or not getting into their top pick for college will feel like a blow to their future. But it doesn’t have to be the final chapter in their life story.

Start by validating their feelings. Tell them there’s nothing wrong with feeling upset, angry and disappointed in themselves. Let them vent and show their emotions rather than trying to create a false sense of positivity.

Then, work on problem solving. The American Psychological Association warns that many parents or guardians, especially ones who want the absolute best for their children, want to problem-solve for their teen and might nag them to do certain things. However, to build a lifetime of healthy strategies for overcoming challenges, your teen must start building those problem-solving skills for themselves.

Invite them to brainstorm ways to overcome what just happened. If they didn’t pass their driving learner’s permit test, ask them if taking more online practice tests could help. If their college application didn’t stand out enough, ask them how they think they can improve their chances through volunteering or extracurricular activities.

Life will always be a challenge. The time you invest today will help your teen build their own success and learn how to cope with any disappointment that the world throws their way.

 
 

JC Pohl, LMFT
President & CEO, TEEN TRUTH

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Today’s teens are feeling increasingly overwhelmed, stressed and anxious, warns the American Psychological Association. In fact, many adolescents actually experience more stress than adults. Studies report that common reasons for this include high parental expectations, the pressure of extracurricular activities and the need to succeed academically.

As a parent or guardian, you can make a difference. When life gets difficult and your teen faces a challenge, such as failing their driver’s license test or scoring poorly on a college entrance exam, you can show them the way. 

Psychologists report that teenagers model the behaviors and emotional responses of the adults in their lives. By showing them how to handle life’s difficulties and cope with disappointment, you help them to succeed now and also set them up for a lifetime of healthy coping strategies.

1. Practice Makes Perfect

A team of researchers at New York University did a nationwide study about the worries, pressures and behaviors of America’s top-performing high school students. They found that taking difficult exams, such as college entrance tests for highly selective schools, was one of the most common anxieties for teenagers. 

Failing a test can feel devastating in the face of such pressure. The researchers noted that the top-performing students turned to healthy preventative activities—namely, more planning and more studying. By investing in more practice and more planning, your teenager can build the confidence and the skills to overcome a failed test.

Take your teenager’s driving for example. Getting a learner’s permit or a driver’s license is a major milestone and helps your teen gain independence, and failing the exam can feel crushing and embarrassing. The more your teen practices, the greater his or her chances of success. And it doesn’t have to be expensive either. There are many free online tools like driving-tests.org that can build confidence for your teenager.

2. Guide Them Toward Healthy Coping Mechanisms

In the NYU study, many teenagers reported turning to substance abuse to cope with disappointment. Unfortunately, this can sabotage your teen’s chances of future success. Instead, help your teenager to find healthier ways to overcome a challenge.

If your teen is feeling depressed or disappointed, one of the best ways to boost their mood and manage stress is through a physical activity that your teenager enjoys. Between taking practice driving tests, applying for college or working on a resume, encourage your teen to go to the gym, swim, walk the dog or hike in the great outdoors. These activities can lift their spirits and give them an emotional buffer to tackle the challenge again.

3. Help Them to Keep Everything in Perspective

Maintain open communication with your teenager. In the face of what might feel like failure, talk the situation through with them and help them frame the situation in a way that keeps a healthy perspective on the matter. Sure, failing that driver’s test or not getting into their top pick for college will feel like a blow to their future. But it doesn’t have to be the final chapter in their life story.

Start by validating their feelings. Tell them there’s nothing wrong with feeling upset, angry and disappointed in themselves. Let them vent and show their emotions rather than trying to create a false sense of positivity. 

Then, work on problem solving. The American Psychological Association warns that many parents or guardians, especially ones who want the absolute best for their children, want to problem-solve for their teen and might nag them to do certain things. However, to build a lifetime of healthy strategies for overcoming challenges, your teen must start building those problem-solving skills for themselves.

Invite them to brainstorm ways to overcome what just happened. If they didn’t pass their driving learner’s permit test, ask them if taking more online practice tests could help. If their college application didn’t stand out enough, ask them how they think they can improve their chances through volunteering or extracurricular activities.

Life will always be a challenge. The time you invest today will help your teen build their own success and learn how to cope with any disappointment that the world throws their way.

 
 
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