Monday, May 29, 2023

Parent Alert: When Teen Stress Becomes Dangerous

Dr. Bridget “Dr. B” Melson, MFT, PsyD.

by Dr. Bridget “Dr. B” Melson, MFT, PsyD.

Stress can be a very normal part of a teen’s life…until it isn’t.

Let’s face it—we are all stressed out most of the time. While many people use deadlines, the threat of pending consequences or the promise of a reward to motivate us to complete a task, sometimes teens cannot see that far into the future and act accordingly. Couple this with an inability to process the amount of stimulation that is constantly coming at them and stress can become dangerous and even life threatening.

Common causes of teen stress:

–End of the year exams/standardized testing

–College applications

–Social media and relationships

–Lack of time and good sleep

–Parent expectations

Signs that stress has become dangerous:

–Self-harm or talk about harming themselves or others

–Giving away their prized possessions/withdrawing from normal fun activities

–Change in personality—either more defiant or angry, or less energetic and withdrawn

–Change in eating or sleeping habits

What to do if you see these warning signs:

–Do not punish them for these behaviors or you will make it worse. They may be signs of an inability to cope.

–Immediately sit down with them and ask what their stress level is on a scale of 1 to 10 and how long they have been feeling that way. If more than 2-3weeks, seek outside help ASAP.

–Write out on paper what they are stressed about and help them get it out of their head (this is great for parents too!)

How to reduce stress in your home:

–Exercise—especially when you are stressed as stress is a biological reaction and the endorphins you make when active will naturally help you feel better.

–For younger kids have some pre blown up balloons in a bag in their room. When stressed, have them go stomp on a few to release their energy.

–Play some calming background music on an AI device (Alexa, Google etc…). We do this and it works great!

–Plan FUN activities on the weekend.

Remember we only get one body, one life and one chance to raise our children. Think about what is important, what you value, what your priorities are and embrace those. Don’t get so busy and caught up with the “final goal” that you become too stressed to enjoy the journey to that final destination.

Keep fighting the good fight parents and go have some fun this weekend!


If you have any questions or teen and parenting counseling needs, visit me at or call 940-489-3050.

CTG Staff
CTG Staff
The Cross Timbers Gazette News Department

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