Frustration is a common emotion for teens. Adolescents face the stress of school, parental expectations, the need to fit in with a peer group and the desire to find their place in society. Although frustration is a normal part of growing up, learning to cope with frustration constructively is challenging for some teens. As a parent, learning about your teen’s frustrations and guiding her toward healthy coping skills can help her thrive in these frustrating years.
Teens feel frustration for many of the same reasons as adults: social pressures, obligations, relationship issues and confusion about the future. In teenagers, these issues are often compounded by hormonal changes. Teens might also feel frustrated in their struggle to establish an identity and assert their independence while still following family and school rules. In addition to these common sources of frustration, like adults, teens might feel frustrated when they are depressed, anxious or experiencing a learning disability such as attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, according to the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry.
Frustration can manifest itself in many ways. Some teens may become irritable and lash out at their parents and teachers, while others will withdraw and make only minimal efforts to fulfill their obligations, explains Joyce Walker of the University of Minnesota Extension. When driven by social rejection or failure, teens might change their socialization habits or give up sports or other extracurricular activities. When frustration causes intense stress, teens might get sick more often or report stomach aches, headaches or other physical complaints.
Reducing a Teen’s Frustration
Talking to a teen about her feelings can be a sound first step in helping her deal with frustration. Helping your teen process her emotions and share what is frustrating or overwhelming to her can provide her with a sense of relief. Furthermore, if your teen is frustrated because she feels that she has too many obligations, helping her develop a plan for time management can help her reduce her frustration and help her find balance among responsibilities such as school, extracurricular activities and social activities.
When Frustration is More than Stress
Although frustration is a normal feeling in most cases, if your teen is experiencing extreme distress, such as crying often, sleeping excessively or experiencing changes in appetite, her feelings might be beyond normal symptoms of stress. Furthermore, if your teen’s frustration is preventing her from performing in school or if she loses interest in activities that previously interested her, consider talking to her doctor or a professional therapist because those symptoms might indicate a more serious emotional problem.
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