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Parents, learn some tips for coping with your teenager’s angst.
Just when a parent thinks they have seen it all, their teen has the meltdown to beat all others. Teenage angst is that intense emotional state that is well known among parents. Every little thing becomes a big drama. Angry outbursts and tears are often followed by the stomping up of stairs and the loud slamming of doors.
All this angst is usually triggered by some small slight—you know, like when a parent says “no” to a teen’s request. Other triggers of teen angst might include social issues, romance setbacks, school struggles, or just plain old hormones.
So, what is a parent to do when faced with all this angst? Learning ways to manage the scenes and control your own emotions is key. Keep reading to find some helpful hints for dealing with your teen’s angst.
What is Teenage Angst?
There is no doubt about it, parents face the great unknown when their child becomes a teen. As hard as it is for the child to deal with this phase of life, it is even harder for parents. It is a sad time in many ways, as the child moves away from the parent toward the much more attractive influence of peers.
With this shift come some changes that parents are rarely ready for. Their once sweet son or daughter now mopes around the house much of the time. They may start arguments for no reason, other than a desire to … argue. They may have more pronounced mood swings. They may be more stressed out, emotional, and touchy. Other quite normal displays of the teen years include:
- Rude behavior.
- Being short-tempered.
- Sleeping more.
- Playing loud music.
- Feeling self-conscious.
- Messy bedrooms.
- Taking more risks.
There is a point, though, when parents should take notice of more extreme symptoms. Signs of mental distress, depression, anxiety disorder, or substance abuse must be taken seriously. These are signals that the teen is in distress and should be assessed by a mental health expert.
6 Tips to Deal with Teenage Angst
While there is no magic wand for handling teenage angst, parents can take steps to manage this uncharted new world. These 6 tips on how to deal with teenage angst can be helpful:
Have your teen get enough sleep.
As hard as this is for a parent to do, try to ensure that your teen gets enough sleep. Without proper sleep the teen will be surly and annoyed, which is hard to live with. Smartphones and laptops are the biggest culprit for robbing a teen of shuteye, so lay down some rules for bedtime. Maybe have the teen hand over these sleep robbers at a certain time each night. Also, have them stick to a bedtime that is age-appropriate.
Try not to lecture.
Yes, as parents our first impulse is to lecture our teens about the things we are concerned about. Instead of caving to this kneejerk response, think about being a better listener. Teens will enjoy having a forum where they can safely explain their actions or feelings without an instant lecture. Give them this space to open up and you will learn a lot about your teen.
Resist getting angry.
Teens know how to trigger parents. It is built into their hard wiring. It is hard, but try to resist the urge to lash out when the teen says something rude or mean. Yes, it hurts, but try not to give them that power. Take a pause, a deep breath, and walk away. Better to diffuse the moment than to engage in a battle you probably won’t win.
Keep an open door for chats.
Let your teen know that you always welcome chat time. Leave the door open for those rare moments when the teen wants to sit down and talk to you. Being open to chatting with your teen gives them a sense of security and safety amid a stressful and confusing world.
Try not to take it personally.
While your teen is testing out their new adult skills, they will surely inspire your own desire to pushback. As parents, it is easy to become hurt or defensive when our child seems to find nothing nice to say to us. Try to resist taking these barbs and arrows too personally. Yes, the teen is pushing boundaries and looking for a response, but try not to let them push your buttons.
One of the best mood boosters around involves zero money and is always available—exercise. Try to get your teen off the couch and their phone and onto the pavement. Movement causes the feel good hormones to be released, leading to better mood, better sleep, and less stress.
Do not Ignore Warning Signs
If none of these tips seem to help your teen pull out of a deep funk, it could be that they are depressed. This is not the same as having the blues for a couple of days, but a dark mood that persists for at least two weeks. Teen depression should be taken seriously.
Warning signs that should cause a parent to reach out to a doctor include:
- Sudden weight loss or gain.
- Sleep problems.
- Extreme fatigue.
- Anger issues; angry outbursts.
- Feelings of sadness or despair.
- Extreme mania.
- Substance abuse.
- Irrational fear.
- Impulsive high-risk behaviors.
- Intense mood swings.
- Suicidal thoughts or actions.
A doctor can rule out a health issue and refer the teen to a mental health provider for a full evaluation. If there is a mental health disorder present, the teen will engage in therapy and possibly be prescribed medication to help manage the symptoms.
BNI Treatment Provides Residential Mental Health Treatment for Teens
BNI Treatment is a mental health center for youth aged 12-17. Teen angst is a common concern among parents. When the symptoms become troubling, a more tailored and intensive treatment approach is sometimes needed. BNI Treatment uses a blend of treatment models that allows us to focus on the whole child. For any questions about our program, please contact us today at (888) 522-1504.