As a child and teen counselor, I know that children often have a difficult time handling stress in their lives. And unfortunately for many youngsters, reasons for feeling stressed can be found just about everywhere – in school, at home and in their social groups. School stressors include keeping up with school work, bullying and relationships with teachers and other authority figures. At home, relationships with parents and siblings can cause stress; and in their social groups, stress can come from conflicts with friends or problems in dating relationships. As a parent, it can be difficult to know when to let your child’s reaction to a stressful situation pass on its own and when to get the help of a child and teen counselor. Here are some things you must consider:
Your Teen’s Pre-Stress Personality
You know your child better than anyone. If he has always been anxious or prone to moodiness, even as a very young child, then those same personality traits in his teen years may not be anything that requires professional attention. If, however, the same moods or anxieties seem to have gotten worse after a stressful incident, then you should consider finding a therapist who works with children so that he’ll be able to deal with his feelings before they interfere with his daily functioning.
Whether Or Not Your Teen Has Become Dysfunctional
Children can sometimes be very good at hiding their true feelings. As a parent who lives with the child on a daily basis, you can watch for signs that your teen is becoming dysfunctional and needs help. Remember that teenage angst is normal; in fact, if your teen gets mad about a situation or complains about a friend but otherwise seems to be functioning normally, then he probably doesn’t need anymore help than you acting as a sounding board. But if your child has trouble getting out of bed, has lost touch with friends or has lost interest in doings things he used to enjoy, it is likely a sign that he needs help.
Your Teen’s Use Of Drugs Or Alcohol
You must watch for signs of drug or alcohol abuse in your teen, regardless of the reason for it. Though a single event can trigger (or worsen) drug or alcohol abuse, it is not a reaction to stress that you can ignore. If your child is doing worse in school, sleeps a lot, seems to care less about personal hygiene, frequently uses breath mints, loses interest in favorite activities or avoids eye contact, these could be signs that he is using drugs or alcohol. Only professional counseling can help him understand the reason he is self-medicating.
As a parent, you will likely always be the first person to detect a negative change in your child that is related to a stressful event or incident. Also as a parent, you must be proactive when it comes to helping your child deal with stress and his reaction to it. You can do that by taking him to a teen counselor in who can help. Call me, Jody VanDrimmelen, at Insight Child & Family Counseling at (972) 426-9500. You can visit me online at www.ldscounselordfw.com to find out more about my practice.