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Help Your Teenager Manage Stress

If your child is stressed, they are not alone.

Stress in teenagers is pretty common, so recognizing stress and learning how to reduce stress are important life skills for teenagers.

With knowledge, you can help your child to understand good and bad stress, how to talk to your teen and tools to help manage stress now and throughout their life.

Today we have Myriam Roby, certified nurse practitioner specializing in family medicine, here to provide you with facts and tips about stress and teenagers.
Help Your Teenager Manage Stress
Featured Speaker:
Myriam Roby, CNP – Family Medicine
Myriam Roby, CNP is a board-certified nurse practitioner specializing in family medicine. She has professional interests in family health, pediatric care and geriatric care.
Help Your Teenager Manage Stress

Melanie Cole (Host):  If your child is stressed, they’re not alone. Stress in teenagers is really common, so recognizing this and learning how to reduce the stress your teens experience is an important life skill for them. With knowledge, you can help your child to understand the good and bad stresses and how to talk to them and use tools to help them manage their stress. Today, my guest is Myriam Roby. She’s a certified nurse practitioner, specializing in family medicine. Welcome to the show, Myriam. Tell us what do you think are the biggest stressors in a teen’s life?

Myriam Roby (Guest):  Of course, the number one stressor are parents. Parents can cause a lot of stress in our teens. Teens already have goals in life that they want to achieve, but parents sometimes place an extra little expectation on them. Sometimes, that can be unrealistic and that will, inside, cause the teens just to feel a little anxiety, just because the main key is they want to please their parents, they want to please their friends. The whole goal in a teen’s life is to make everybody happy with them.

Melanie:  If they are trying to please all these people and they’re feeling like it’s too much on them, what about things like after-school activities? I am a parent, Myriam, who does not like to over-involve my kids, but I do see teens that are over-involved and it stresses them out. What’s a parent to do about this?

Myriam:  Parents need to talk to their teens. Ask them, do they like going to chess? Is drama class really for them? Or would they prefer going to play basketball, maybe enjoying communing time with you out on the lake? The key is to communicate with your teen. Your teens can let you know what makes them feel good and what stresses them out. Pushing them to do things that they don’t like to do, that’s what’s going to cause them to have anxiety inside and they may not feel that they can come to you with those answers.

Melanie:  As women especially, we have this negative self-talk, you know, we put ourselves down all the time, but we’re learning to tell ourselves positive things. What about teens? Do they kind of give themselves those negative thoughts and feelings? Their self-esteem is suffering. What do we do about helping them through those awkward teenage years?

Myriam:  Again, I can’t reinforce enough: communication. We really need to talk to our teens. We ourselves need to evaluate. Are we open? Are we an open book for our teens to be able to come to and say, “You know what, mom and dad, I’m stressed out. I’m feeling this jittery in my stomach. Sometimes, my thoughts are racing in my head and can cause my head to hurt.” We have to make sure that our teens feel that they can come to us and we’re not going to judge them. We’re not going to put them down. We’re not going to yell at them. We’re just going to be there, present, and listen to what they have to say.

Melanie:  While the teenage brains, Myriam, are so complicated and different than adult brains, can the stress in teens lead to other conditions such as anxiety or depression?

Myriam:  Absolutely, it can. Unfortunately, when teens are growing, they have many different hormones that are racing through their bodies. Self-image is really, really important to them, belonging in a peer group or having a social group that they can interact with. All of that combined with parents, the deadlines of homework, of tests, that can cause anxiety and depression in our teens. Stress is something that is natural for us. It can be good in situations when you’re trying to make that basket for your team. It’s good when you’re trying to focus on that history test that you have that you need to take. But when you’re having chronic or long-term stress, it can lead to distress, which that distress is what leads to the anxiety and depression in our teens.

Melanie:  What should parents look for, Myriam? What are some red flags that would signal that our child just has maybe a little more stress than they can handle and it could lead to anxiety or depression?

Myriam:  It’s really important to focus on if your teen is having problem sleeping. Do they toss and turn more often at night? Are they finding that it’s hard to get to sleep at night because they’re constantly thinking about the day’s events or they’re worried about future events that they have to achieve? You will notice sometimes moods in your teens will change, such as outward aggression or withdrawing from people that they normally interacted with all the time. Maybe you’ll even get a call from school or their job saying that the teens are not themselves or other people have noticed that they’re complaining of stomachaches or headaches or things like that. You really need to just see, is your teen acting normal for them – which every teen has their own version of normal – but it’s normal for them. If they’re not, investigate a little bit more. Interact with your teen and see if there is something that’s troubling them.

Melanie:  Aside from keeping good open lines of communication, which, Myriam, you’ve stressed and it is so, so important, how else can we help our teens to deal with these and even kind of nonjudgmentally discussing things that they might try to reduce their stress, like drugs or alcohol?

Myriam:  Well, it’s just like you hit on home. It’s very important to communicate, but aside from communicating, you want to make sure that you don’t make your teen your friend. Your teen is not your friend. They’re your teenagers. They’re your child. Sometimes, parents have stress that’s going on in their life, like stressors. We’ve all been there. Bills, or you’ve had to worry about work deadlines, meetings, making sure that the family and your work correlate, but your teen doesn’t need to know about all of those stressors. You need to also find a way to cope without allowing your teens to see that these stressors are bringing you down because they can sense that. They can see that you’re tense. You may not be focused on them. You may not be giving them your undue attention. Nonverbal communication is just as important as verbal communication. Teens look to you to see how you are going to manage your life, and then that’s going to help them grow and manage their life and then they start having positive coping skills instead of leading to drugs or alcohol, which are the negative coping mechanisms that we’re trying to avoid altogether.

Melanie:  In just the last couple of minutes, Myriam, please give us some of the healthy outlets for teens to release some of the stress and some resources for online programs, things that parents can use to help deal with their teens and stress.

Myriam:  It’s very important we, as health advocates, we push exercise. Exercise is wonderful for teens to relieve those stressors of the day. They just need to really get out there and move for 30 minutes or more every day just to kind of help bring the hormones that cause stress low and then increase the good hormones that give them that really happy, joyful feeling of again helping them achieve goals. You encourage them to look for things that they like to do. If they like to play chess and that makes them feel at ease, try to encourage them to do that. Maybe have a moment at home where everybody gets together and they have a fun game night. Go out to movies if that’s something that your teen enjoys. The key is to try to find things that will help your teen relieve the stress so that when they have to go back to school the next day or if they have that thing that they’ve been worrying about, they can go towards both of those with a really good frame of mind, knowing that they have positive reinforcement from their parents. Another great resource for parents is the Change to Chill program that Allina Health recently launched. It’s amazing to help not only teens but parents to find good outlook to try to help on stress with their teenagers. It’s been tested on a teen-focused group. It’s amazing. Parents can find the information about Change to Chill on Again, that’s

Melanie:  Thank you so much. You’re listening to the WELLcast with Allina Health. For more information, you can go to That’s This is Melanie Cole. Thanks so much for listening and have a great day.