Helping your teen grow into a healthy and responsible adult is a rewarding part of being a parent, but it’s not always an easy job. Kids can be brutal to each other. Helping your child cope and manage feelings he or she encounters during the high school years are difficult and fragile tasks, but they are important. Peer-related stress for your teen can result from being the target of vicious gossip, getting teased or bullied, or knowing that his/her friends are involved in dangerous things like drinking, drugs, and/or other risky behaviors. Stress can also result from not “joining the crowd,” and fear of rejection. Most teens will encounter some of these scenarios, so it’s vital to give your child the tools he/she needs to handle the complex peer environment.
Here are some things you can do to help your teen deal with their life:
Emotionally Connect With Your Child
Give your child extra attention and consideration. Keeping the lines of communication open and encouraging discussion is key. Be there to listen and share your own experiences from high school.
Be Alert to Signs of Stress
These signs may present as anxiety, aggressive behavior, stomachaches/headaches or a desire to stay home from school and other activities.
Consults with Teachers and Staff
If you know your teen is going through a hard time at school or has come into conflict with peers, make sure teachers and other school staff are in the loop.
Feelings don’t need to be “fixed.” Instead, focus on helping your child understand and deal with his/her experiences. If signs of stress don’t seem to be subsiding after a few weeks, consider consulting a mental health professional who has special experience working with youth.
In addition, speak with your teen about not being on the other side of the coin – the person doing the teasing or gossiping. Being popular may be a very important goal for your teen, but gaining popularity should not be at the expense of a peer’s feelings or your child’s personal well-being.