When she is stressed and what to do about it
How many times a day do you feel stressed out? Do you find that you need several moments to step away and take a breather throughout the day? Have you considered whether or not your daughter could be stressed out too? Is it possible that part of the reason you two don’t have the relationship you used to is because you’re both under a lot of stress and are emotional?
Taking time to step back and realize your daughter is just as, if not more, emotional and overwhelmed as you are can help change the way you interact with her and the relationship you two have. Consider how much more peace there could be in the house if you two took the time to see the other’s point of view and feelings.
Your daughter may only be a teenager, but she definitely has stress to deal with. It isn’t the same stress you’re experiencing, and it’s important to acknowledge that. You know how your husband or best friend can tell when you’re stressing out? And, while it is a bit frustrating being able to be read that easily, you are also relieved to hear them ask what’s wrong.
You start explaining the situation and end up talking for 30 minutes straight. By the end, you feel a whole lot better and grateful they invited you to open up to them. They may have even provided you with the perfect solution to take care of your stress levels.
Imagine being able to give your daughter the same feeling of support. Imagine if she were able to vent and open up to you without the fear of being judged. You would know what’s going on in her life instead of being shut out and worrying about what could possibly be happening. She would alleviate some of her stress. Stress affects everybody in different ways and learning how she reacts can be the difference between a cooperative household and a tense one.
Possible Stress Points
It’s possible you’ve even said the phrase “You’re only [insert age here], what could you possibly have to be stressed about?” In fact, many parents believe this is completely true. As the responsibilities pile up, you start to long for the stressors you dealt with when you were a teenager. When your daughter mentions she’s been feeling stressed out and overwhelmed, you tell her to enjoy her teen years, as she has no idea what stress really is. Afterall, she doesn’t have a demanding career or bills to pay, right?
Her reaction is to completely shut you out afterwards. When you minimize her feelings, she doesn’t want to share with you. You certainly didn’t mean to put her feelings down, and you are completely justified in feeling nostalgic over the lack of “real” stress you used to have. But, her feelings of overwhelm and stress are real. It is so important to remember that her experiences now have a real impact on her. Take a moment and think about all of the things she has to deal with.
Not only is your daughter managing school, homework, extracurricular activities, following the rules, dealing with siblings, friends, and boys. She is also thinking about her entire future, applying to college, figuring out what degree she wants to have for the rest of her life, and more! This is just the list for teenagers with normal lives. It doesn’t include any of the teenagers dealing with a divorce, gang violence, bullying, abuse, a disease, or any of the other number of challenging situations children find themselves in. If you put it all in perspective, it is a lot!
How To Tell If She’s Stressed
Each person deals with stress differently. There are many signals your daughter will give off when she’s stressed out and overwhelmed. The best way to figure out what they are is to pay attention. Ask her what’s wrong when you start to hear her sighing into her books. If she starts to continually eat or snack, even when she isn’t hungry, she could be developing an emotional eating habit.
An emotional eating habit can cause your daughter to become unhealthy, causing her to be even more unhappy and to avoid working through her problems. On the opposite side, make sure she’s eating something. Developing anorexia or bulimia is going to make dealing with the stress of life even worse. She’ll be stressed and hungry, while continually punishing herself and her body for wanting to eat.
If your daughter starts to have random outbursts or mood swings at random times, it’s probably a sign she is emotionally (and/or physically) exhausted. Blowing up over something as simple as spilled milk is a dead giveaway your daughter is under way too much stress. Being perpetually mad over nothing can be a big sign she’s struggling with her workload. If she stops showing much emotion, it could be a sign she’s shutting down emotionally and just doesn’t want to deal with any of it.
What do you do?
Let’s say you see these signs in your daughter: She’s been moody lately and has been eating pretty much nonstop. Instead of cornering her in the car, her room, or anywhere else she might feel the need to be defensive and attempting to force her to open up to you, let her know she has resources available to her to help her through what she’s feeling. Let her know you are available and remind her of how much you love her. Yes, you may get an eye roll, but still say it.
Give her a journal to write and work out everything she’s going through (and don’t snoop through it! We’ll go over why it’s important you keep her trust in a later post.) Let her know there are licensed therapists and psychiatrists at her school ready to help her if there is a need. Offer to research one and work with her to pick someone she’s comfortable talking to. Introduce her to a close adult friend she can confide in who won’t dish on everything she says back to you, but instead will help her through her problems. Let her know you’re open to talking and willing to help her with anything she needs.
Stress is an emotion everyone in the world deals with. The levels and type of stress differ for each person, but we all crave an understanding and caring person, willing to help us sort through the mess in our brains. Your daughter knows you love her and that you want to help. Don’t just hint at the fact that you’re there for her. Tell her outright that she’s able to come to you with anything and everything she may need. You will both benefit from working towards a deeper connection.