The Family Project: Teen daughter stress
Q. I often hear my teenage daughter and her friends talking about all the stress they are under. Sometimes I even hear them crying together. When I ask them if everything is OK, they change the subject, start laughing or simply say, “Nothing.” Why are teens under so much stress, and how can parents help?
The panel agreed that teens are under a lot of stress from school work, sports, social activities and the like.
Cell phones, along with the need to multitask, were named as contributors to stress.
“We have technology that is supposed to save time and all it does is free up time for us to cram in more activities,” panelist Chad Stefanyak said.
“There is also something to be said about the stress created by multitasking, Stefanyak continued, adding, “Teens are juggling too many things, and then you add the phone in there where they are always connected, and there are bound to be negative effects.”
Panelist Erin Stalsitz noted that teens’ activities today take longer and are too numerous. “They [the students] are involved in a lot of competition, and there is also the element of instant gratification in trying to do everything,” she said, noting, “They have no downtime.”
“For the first time in their lives, teens have so many demands on them,” Stefanyak said. “So, you can look at it from the perspective that this is developmentally appropriate, but acknowledging that for them it is a stressful time.”
The stress of worrying about getting into college is such that admissions counselors know teens can’t do everything. “The counselors want to see diversity in the teens’ activities, but would rather see them involved in only a couple of things. Students don’t have to overextend themselves,” Stefanyak said.
One way the parent can help her daughter, according to panelist Kristy Bernard, is by just spending time together so the daughter has opportunities to talk about any problems she is having.
Panelist Pam Wallace added, “The daughter is trying to navigate a whole new system of friends and school, and it is hard. Knowing that her mother is available to listen is how the parent can help her child.”
“It is also a whole new world for us parents,” panelist Wanda Mercado-Arroyo added. “We have to learn how it operates.” She suggested that the mother talk to her daughter’s teachers and to the parents of her daughter’s friends to understand the challenges the teens face, and to determine what support systems are available.
This week’s team of parenting experts are: Pam Wallace, Program Coordinator, Project Child, a program of Valley Youth House; Wanda Mercado-Arroyo, former teacher and school administrator; Erin Stalsitz, Lehigh County Children and Youth Casework Supervisor; Chad Stefanyak, school counselor, and Kristy Bernard, Northampton County Children & Youth Program Specialist.
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The Family Project is a collaboration of the Lehigh Valley Press Focus section and Valley Youth House’s Project Child.
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