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What Are the Stressors That Affect Teenagers the Most?

by Ashley Miller, studioD

Most teens face a certain amount of stress on a daily basis. Some stress is healthy, because it encourages productivity, creativity and the development of resilience. Too much stress can cause detrimental effects and negatively impact your teen's well-being, however. While teens experience stress from a variety of sources, the top stressors for teens occur in the categories of homework and school, parents and family, social life and time management, according to a survey conducted by Becky Beacom, health education manager at the Palo Alto Medical Foundation.

Homework and School

The adolescent years are filled with a variety of different types of academic stress. Teens may experience worries over the future, such as concerns about getting into college or choosing the right career path. Others may struggle with maintaining their grade point averages, completing homework assignments on time or studying for exams. Academic stress is one of the top stressors for teens, especially around midterms and finals week. In addition, according to a comparative study published in 2009 in the journal Adolescence, the transition from junior high to high school presents a particular challenge and increase in stress for teens, as they are faced with new and larger peer groups and heightened academic expectations.

Parents and Family

Parental and family relationships can be significant sources of stress for teens. Teens try to manage their newfound desire for independence and might seem to want to break away from the family unit, yet they may also long for security and unconditional love provided by parents and, in many cases, siblings. At the same time, teens may experience an increase in arguments with parents over issues like limits and responsibilities or have more frequent conflicts with siblings. Other stressors may include dealing with the illness or death of a family member, divorce or parental separation or family financial problems, according to the website of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry.

Social Life

Peer pressure, dating and sex, friendships and extracurricular activities, including tryouts for sports teams or other groups, are also some of the more common stressors in teens, according to the Palo Alto Medical Center survey. Teens may seem preoccupied with their appearance, what others think of them or keeping up with certain trends as a way to ensure that they fit in. Trying to avoid peer pressure to experiment with drugs, alcohol and tobacco can be extremely stressful for teens. Parental support and effective stress management techniques, like exercise and relaxation, might help some teens circumvent these temptations. Highly stressed teens are twice as likely to abuse drugs and alcohol as their less-stressed peers, advises the Promises Treatment Centers website.

Time Management

Many teens have jam-packed schedules and have difficulty finding time to relax, unwind and de-stress. Keeping up with activities and commitments, packed schedules, not having enough time to sleep and relax and dealing with deadlines can stress teens out and make them feel like they're always on the go, say child development experts with the Teens Health website. Finding a healthy equilibrium between academics, socializing, family responsibilities and extracurricular activities is important to ensuring that your teen stays happy, healthy and balanced.

About the Author

Ashley Miller is a licensed social worker, psychotherapist, certified Reiki practitioner, yoga enthusiast and aromatherapist. She has also worked as an employee assistance program counselor and a substance-abuse professional. Miller holds a Master of Social Work and has extensive training in mental health diagnosis, as well as child and adolescent psychotherapy. She also has a bachelor's degree in music.

Photo Credits

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