How to Help Teens Manage Stressful Times

How to help teens manage stressful times: These are stressful times for teens. Help them manage while building life skills.

How to Help Teens Manage Stressful Times

How to Help Teens Manage Stressful Times

As much as we might wish it, homeschooling does not insulate our teens from stressful times. Stress is hard for anyone but especially for teens.

The cool thing is that we can help our high schoolers develop stress management tools for their stressful times now. These skills will help them survive and thrive through the stresses adulthood.

Stressful times for teens

Homeschool high schoolers face stressors that are common to many teens:

  • Stressors of high school academics
  • Unique stressors of junior and senior years of high school
  • Stress of learning to understand themselves and their relationships
  • The impacts of Covid-19 on their lifestyles

Three meaningful ways to manage any stressful time

Before we get into specifics, let me share with you three ways to help teens manage stressful times:

  • Teach them to breathe
    • Not kidding. When we are stressed we do not breathe, we pant. This causes the body to release stress hormones which fog the brain and cause the fight/flight/freeze response.
    • Get a reboot by taking three deep breaths and doing some deep breathing exercises daily.
  • Also, teach them prayer and mindfulness practices.

Never underestimate the power of a deep breath. 7Sister Sabrina Justison

How to help teens manage stress of high school academics

High school generally lasts four years. It can be four stressful years for teens who have not learned:

  • Manage their schedules
  • Find academic/life balance
    • Learning how to find a good balance of academics and the rest of life can be difficult
      High school health for the whole person
      Click image for full description
      • Some teens have a hard time knowing when enough is enough when it comes to their studies
      • Other teens have a hard time knowing when enough is enough when it comes to their leisure
      • A good time audit can help
      • Academic/life balance is one of the topics addressed in 7Sisters Health curriculum
  • Ask for help
    • Sometimes teens forget to how to ask for help. Instead they get frustrated give up or waste endless time feeling anxious
    • You can help by checking in daily and asking, “What questions do you have about…?”
      • This can be tough if they are working on a subject you do not feel confident about, so model resilience skills and information-seeking skills:
      • “I don’t know, let’s see if we can find a YouTube about it.”
      • OR “I don’t know, but I know Aunt Suzy is good at that, let’s FaceTime her.”
  • Develop a growth mindset

11th and 12th grades mean: Facing the future! Your teens need to know they can do it!

How to help teens manage stress of junior and senior years of high school

Let’s talk about junior year first. It can be a stressful year for college-bound teens AND non-college-bound teens

By junior year, non-college-bound teens are probably being asked “What are you going to do when you graduate?”

This can be SO stressful to teens who do not have a clue about that. Help them manage their stress by:

By junior year, college-bound teens are being asked, “What will your college major be?” and “Where are you going for college?”

College-bound teens must decide if they will take ACTs, PSATs, SATs.

There are pros and cons to the tests.

  • They are not accurate measures of a teens academic abilities.
  • Not all colleges require these scores but excellent scores might earn some scholarships.

Talk with your teen about whether or not they should invest in these tests by taking a prep course such as Khan Academy’s free course on YouTube.

Scheduling Backwards
Click image for full description.

By senior year, non-college-bound teens need to keep working on their tasks from 11th grade until they feel confident in a career choice they can start with.

No high schooler will ever know the entire career path that they will take through their lives. They just need to feel confident about the first step!

  • Help them come up with a pat answer to “What are you going to do when you graduate?”
  • They are going to be asked this a gazillion times. If they have a pat answer, they don’t have to stress about it.

By senior year, college-bound teens need to:

  • Fill out FAFSA
  • Choose colleges for applications
  • Complete applications, transcripts, reference requests

Help them set up a timeline for each task using Scheduling Backwards

Read this post about handling homeschool countdowns if you or your teen are stressed about those impending deadlines!

Teens need to learn to understand themselves and understand others.

Help teens manage stress of learning to understand themselves and their relationships

Do you remember being a teen? Some things were tough, like trying to figure out who we were!

Teens are trying to understand:

  • What they are like? (What is their personality?)
    • Most teens benefit from taking some personality tests. Here is a freebie with links to free versions of some personality tests.
    • Have your teen take two or three of the personality tests.
    • Discuss the results: What do they agree with and not agree with?

      Philosophy in 4 Questions.
      Click image for full description.
  • What they are for? (What do they believe in?)

Help teens manage stress of Covid-19's impacts on lifestyle

Help teens manage stress of Covid-19’s impacts on lifestyle

COVID-19 is still around and still interfering with the convenient lifestyles we have long been used to. Teens sometimes get irritated by mask-wearing and social distancing requirements that are still in place. Here are some ways to help them:

Model graciousness and resilience

Teens benefit from hearing you say, “I don’t really like mask-wearing either, but I can do it for now.”

  • Teens learn resilience by listening to their parents talk about flexibility: I don’t really like…but I can do it for now.

Sometimes teens can be judgmental about others who mask or don’t mask (according to the way they personally feel about mask wearing). This is a marvelous time to read together Romans 8: 1-13, where the author is explaining whether it is okay to eat food sacrificed to idols.

  • Paul explains that some Christians understand that God is the only God, so there is no sacrilege in eating it. However, some Christians are more fragile and believe that eating food sacrificed to an idol is sacrilegious. If you are having a meal with one of those more fragile brethren, you could cause them to fall by eating that food. So just don’t do it.
    • Applied to modern times: If you don’t feel like wearing a mask is cool, don’t look down on others who wear masks. Just don’t do judgmental behaviors.

      Introduction to Psychology
      Click image for full description.

Work on 3R’s: Routines, reassurance, regulation

  • Gentle routines help teens feel less anxiety
  • Reassurance of your love and protection helps, too
  • Regulation: teach them deep breathing and the 3W’s:
    • What am I feeling? Why am I feeling that way? What am I going to do about it?

Beware of “Zoom fatigue”

So much of life and academics is online. Being immersed in screens can be fatiguing for body and soul (even if teens like their screen time)!

You can help by:

  • Teaching teens the 20/20/20 rule:
    • For every 20 minutes of screen time, look away from the screen for 20 seconds at something 20 feet away
  • Reminding them to self-care:
    • It’s easy to forget when immersed in the screens, so help them remember to
      • Stay hydrated
      • Eat healthy food
      • Get outside
      • Move around

Handling grief from losses

If the family has lost a loved one during the pandemic, make sure your teens have had the opportunity to do some healthy grieving. Help them:

  • Create a scrapbook about the loved one
  • Or create voice-memo stories about the loved one
  • Create a memory box of items from the loved one

If the loss is mostly the continued isolation that is still ongoing:

  • Find outdoors things to do with friends and make it happen regularly:
  • Hikes (log phys ed hours)
  • Picnics
  • Outdoor field trips (log those hours for history or science)

For more information, read this interview with Marianna Chambers about dealing with stress.

Also, relationship between parent and teen is especially stressful when it is time to discuss dating, so check out this interview with Melanie Wilson for some helpful tips.

Read more about helping your teen beat the winter blues.

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How to Help Teens Manage Stressful Times

Vicki Tillman

Blogger, curriculum developer at, counselor, life and career coach, SYMBIS guide, speaker, prayer person. 20+year veteran homeschool mom.

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