Understanding Preteen Stress

Being the parent of a preteen can be stressful, but being a preteen is stressful in and of itself. Unfortunately, at such a young age, these preteens don’t usually have the coping skills to help them work through their stressors. Stress that isn’t adequately dealt with can weaken the immune system and lead to heart disease and obesity. Further, prolonged stress can cause mental health problems such as depression and anxiety.

So how can parents of middle schoolers help their preteens manage stress? Well, it all starts by understanding what causes preteen stress in the first place.

Primary Causes of Stress in Preteens

It can be easy for parents and other adults to dismiss stress complaints amongst middle school and high school age children. After all, what do these preteens have to be stressed about when they have no mortgage to pay, no heavy traffic to battle, and no weight of the world on their shoulders?

It turns out that there are 10 primary causes of stress in preteens. Understanding these causes can help you ensure that your middle schooler is appropriately equipped to manage those stressors and maintain a healthy outlook on life.

  1. School demands and extracurricular performance
  2. Hormonal changes
  3. Negative body image
  4. Challenges and disagreements with peers
  5. Unsafe living conditions
  6. Separation or divorce of parents
  7. Chronic illness within the family
  8. Death of a family member or friend
  9. School change or recent move
  10. Family financial problem

Now that you understand what causes stress in preteens, what can you do about it? How can you help your preteen handle their stress appropriately?

Tips To Help Your Preteen Cope Appropriately

Like we said before, understanding the stressors your preteen is subject to is the first step in helping them cope. The next step is to help them work through it in a healthy way. Managing stress is critical to your child’s overall health, and helping them through it is just one of many ways to be the successful parent of a successful kid. So let’s talk about what you can do:

1. Acknowledge your preteen’s stress.

Dismissing the situation will create a distance between you and your child. Be honest about how everyone is feeling. In today’s modern world, parents get busy, and their time and attention are split between work, family, and friends. An honest acknowledgment of the situation will go a long way toward your preteen accepting your help.

2. Practice open, honest communication at home.

Allow your child to say what they have to say, and make sure you are taking the time to listen.

3. Don’t just jump in and try to solve your child’s problem for them.

At this age your child is learning how to make independent decisions. Talk together about stress management tips. But rather than flying in and fixing the problem, ask your preteen how they want to tackle the problem, or help them brainstorm ideas. This method will help avoid pushback on ideas that are not theirs.

4. No matter how busy life gets, make time for self-care.

Encourage everyone in the family to find an outlet that allows them to care for themselves physically, mentally, and emotionally.

5. Make sure your preteen is sticking to routines.

This includes their regular dental hygiene and skincare routines as well as times to get up, go to sleep, eat, play, and do homework. Routines are a life rhythm that help create the feeling of more stability.

6. Encourage your preteen to seek an outlet.

Where do your preteen’s talents and interests lie? Encourage them to find a healthy means of self-expression through constructive hobbies such as painting, journaling, skate-boarding, pet-walking, or volunteering.

7. Talk to your preteen about the impact that stress can have on the body.

Stress affects our minds, our bodies, our emotions, and, yes, our oral health. Encourage wellness and don’t skimp on routine appointments. As a parent, take the whole day off from work and help your teen unplug before and after the appointment when possible. Not only will this make for a less stressful trip to the dentist but can also provide some essential one-on-one time.

8. Talk to your child about focusing on what they can control.

One of the greatest toolsets you can give your child for coping with life is to help them recognize what they can and can’t control. If a problem isn’t one they can do something about, it’s time to communicate about it and choose ways to flourish in spite of it. Maximize the realm they have power over instead of focusing on what’s outside their realm of influence.

9. Keep an eye on your child’s sleep.

Between the ages of 9 and 12, they should get nine to 12 hours of sleep per 24-hour period. Kids in this age group need more rest to help fuel their growing bodies. Lack of sleep can make it harder for your preteen to manage daily responsibilities.

10. And no matter what you do as a parent, make sure you’re taking time to handle your stress as well.

The better you care for yourself, the better you’ll be able to help your preteen through this.

Ada Smile Place can help your child keep their smile in check.

When life gets stressful, it can be easy to overlook things like trips to the doctor and dentist. But keeping those appointments are even more important during those times. So if your preteen is due for a professional dental cleaning, don’t hesitate to request an appointment with one of our excellent Ada family dentists.

We look forward to meeting your family!