Helping Teens Handle Stress

Stress is one of the things in a teenager's life that is difficult to handle (not only for them as teens but for us as parents as well). There are lots of things vying for the time of teenagers: work, school, extracurricular activities, church, homework, time with friends, sports, band, drama, and the list goes on. Getting a handle on all of this is difficult enough without having to deal with all the stress that these things bring to their lives. So what's a parent to do?

Here are some biblical principles:

1. We must acknowledge that stress is real.

We cannot sweep it under the rug and hope it will go away. It won't because it is huge in the life of a teenager. (If we are honest, we will have to admit that it is huge for us as well-think about all those folks that you know who are suffering from ulcers, heart problems, and high blood pressure). Stress is real. As parents we should know better, but teens have difficulty acknowledging that stress can be a real problem for them. Sometimes they don't even recognize stress as a problem.

2. There is hope in the midst of stress.

Acknowledging that stress is real is not the end of the world. The Lord offers hope in the midst of it. Jesus Christ can come into our lives and give us a sense of peace that passes all understanding. This peace is not absence of conflict. Actually, it is realizing that we have a source within us to overcome anything that comes our way.

3. Stress is vital in our lives.

There is some stress that is not only helpful, but healthy. Admittedly, there is some stress that is unhealthy; but we have tended to think that it is all that way, and it's not. Think of the stress that comes from exercising our bodies. Doing so causes our bodies to grow and get stronger. This is true of us as adults and it is true for teenagers as well.

Helping teens to come to terms with these three principles will start them on the journey of coping with the stressors in their lives in a healthy way.

Chuck Gartman has served as a youth minister for more than 20 years and has parented three daughters through the teen years.

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