Teens are more stressed out than ever! According to a survey by the American Psychological Association, teens report being as stressed as adults report. Yet when school is in, teens are reporting experiencing higher levels of stress than adults report. In light of all the stress, teens describe feeling depressed, anxious, and overwhelmed.
With all this stress, teenagers are prone to be critical of themselves. Teens beat themselves up for not looking a certain way or getting the right grades.
The greater the stress, the more severe teens can be with themselves. The more sever teens are with themselves, the greater the likelihood they will develop depression or anxiety.
As a parent, how can you help your stressed out teen? One thing you can do is help them understand and practice self-compassion.
What is Self-Compassion?
Self-compassion is a research based approach designed to help people navigate stress. Self-compassion was first studied by Dr. Kristen Neff at The University of Texas. Dr. Neff founded selfcompassion.org which has helps athletes, CEOs and students nationally and around the world.
Self-compassion has three important components:
Self-Kindness has to do with how your teen speaks to themselves. Under stress, teens are likely to use harsh and critical words. Some examples include:
“I‘m so stupid! I’ll never pass this class“
“I‘m so weird. I don’t think anyone likes me!”
"I'm just not good enough. I will disappoint my parents"
Self-kindness encourages teens to speak kindly to themselves. This is not fluff or toxic positivity. If your teen fails a quiz, self-kindness acknowledges the that it was difficult. It also reinforces that there’s always a next time.
If a teen has a difficult time with self-kindness, I encourage them to think of this exercise. I encourage them to imagine their best friend. I then ask them to imagine their best friend sharing the same struggle. I then ask them to tell me what they would say to their friend.
Teenagers understand they are kinder to their friends than they are to themselves. Self-kindness asks teens to speak to themselves like they would a trusted friend.
2. Common Humanity
Under stress, teens report feeling isolated. My teen clients share they feel they are the only ones struggling with this or that problem.
Self-compassion encourages a sense of shared humanity. This is the idea that we are all flawed, imperfect humans. The goal is progress, not perfection.
Whatever we are going through, someone else is going through it too. Whether it’s grades or social issues, self-compassion encourages solidarity with others.
As teens battle stress, their negative thoughts can become extreme. It is common for teens to struggle with catastrophizing.
Catastrophizing, a Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) principle, is a pattern of thinking where things get blown out of proportion. An example is a teen who thinks they will never get into college when they fail a test. Or one that thinks they will never land a job when they don’t hear back after an application.
Mindfulness is the practice of noticing your thoughts or feelings without judgement. Teens can notice how they are feeling without rushing to a negative conclusion.
Therapy Can Help Your Teen Practice Self-Compassion
It’s one thing for your teen to understand self-compassion. It’s another for them to practice it. Therapy can be one effective means of helping your teen practice self-compassion.
A trained teen therapist can guide your teen through various exercises that encourage self-kindness. A professional counselor specializing in teen counseling works with your teen to help them experience they are not alone.
Through illustrations and guided exercises, your teen can learn how to be mindful. As they learn how to be mindful, they can experience greater control over their emotions.
Impact of Teen Stress on Young Adult Success
We find that many young adults we work with in counseling are facing the impact of teen stress. Many of the struggles they face today developed in their younger teen years.
Young adults have been able to get by even though they experienced teen depression, anxiety, panic attacks or other struggles as a young teen. But now with adult responsibilities weighing heavy on their minds, how they used to "get by" no longer works for them.
As they are expected more and more and more to be the captains of their own ship, depression, anxiety, panic attacks, ADHD/ADD, trauma, PTSD now stand as an obstacle in their way and blocks their path.
One of the principle reasons we have chosen to specialize in working with teens and families is to prevent the struggles of today (as a teenager) from becoming the obstacles of tomorrow (as a young adult).
These young adults won't need to be working on how to overcome or manage their depression, anxiety, ADHD, etc. as they have already removed the obstacle as a teenager. They can then spend their energy focusing on success in university, college, work, and relationships.
Katy Teen & Family Counseling: Specializing in Teen Therapy in Katy, Tx & Houston
At our Katy, Tx location of Katy Teen & Family Counseling, we specialize in teen therapy. We can help your teen learn the skills of self-kindness and self-compassion. It is a skill that can be learned and can be a step in the healing process.
Teens are struggling more today with emotional struggles than at any other time. Teen depression, anxiety, panic attacks, ADHD/ADD, trauma, PTSD can all block their happiness and success in their teen years. It doesn't need to be so.
If you are ready to start your teen therapy journey with the specialists at Katy Teen & Family Counseling, all you need to do is follow these three simple steps:
Contact Katy Teen & Family Counseling
Start your journey towards developing self-kindness, self-compassion, and healing from the impact of emotional struggles
Other Therapy and Counseling Services Offered at Katy Teen & Family Counseling
Below are a few of the offerings we provide for teens, families, and young adults in Katy, Tx and Houston:
Peak performance (optimal academic brain performance)
Peak performance (optimal athletic brain performance)
Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR Therapy)
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT)
It is not uncommon to have the stress of parenting a struggling teen to have an impact on the marriage or relationship. At Katy Teen & Family Counseling, our therapists also provide marriage counseling or couples therapy.
To ensure long term success, the teen, young adult, family, and marriage or relationship need attention and at times healing. Let our marriage counselors or couples therapists help strengthen the bonds of your marriage or relationship.
About the Author
If you're ready to start your teen therapy, young adult counseling, or family therapy journey, you can call us at 346-202-4662 or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.