Magazine article Work & Family Life

Teenagers Deal with Stressful Times in Different Ways

Magazine article Work & Family Life

Teenagers Deal with Stressful Times in Different Ways

Article excerpt

In our front page article, we talked about how we can help younger children deal with the impact of the events since September 11th. What about teenagers? How should parents respond to their expressed and unexpressed feelings about all that has happened?

The needs of teenagers change dramatically between ages 13 and 17. Like younger children, teens' reactions to stress depend on their age, temperament, level of maturity and personal involvement.

How teens face disturbing events

> TEENAGERS MAY EXPRESS their anxiety through a range of behaviors that seem unrelated to what's going on, and they are likely to "push the envelope" and take more risks than they normally do.

> IN AN EFFORT TO BE "COOL" or get a rise out of their parents, some teens (preteens too) may make inappropriate jokes, downplay scary events, refuse to discuss their feelings and immerse themselves in the "popular culture."

> MANY TEENS TRY TO NOT LET ON to their parents that they are scared. "My kids are able to talk about their worries with their friends but not with me, so I'm trying to connect them with other adults they can talk with," says a mom with two teenagers.

> OLDER TEENAGERS ARE MORE LIKELY to worry about the future-being drafted or the impact of a recession on their families. "There's a lot of talk about this being the test of our generation," says Lizzie Tannen, a 17-year-old college student. "I guess we've wanted something to fight for, something to define us-and this seems to be it right now."

What parents should do

> STOP WHAT YOU'RE DOING and really listen to what your kids are saying. Hug them more, touch them more and eat together, even if it means adapting your schedule or giving up on some other activities.

> MAINTAIN FAMILY ROUTINES, rituals and rules. It's more important than ever to set limits and be clear about your expectations. "Adolescents...want to be around safe people in familiar situations," says Dr. Anne Marie Albano of the New York University Child Study Center.

> WATCH FOR CHANGES IN MOOD, sleeping or eating patterns or in relationships with friends. Teenagers will likely experience some of the same difficulty with concentration that many adults have reported, so don't be surprised if there's a dip in grades when November report cards come out. …

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