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Teens Under Stress and Pressure: How Can You Help?

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Secret Signs of Stress

You know what anxiety typically looks like in your kid: moodiness, irritability, sadness, sleeping problems. But here are five signs you might miss.

  • Hanging out with new friends who seem troubled
  • Nervous mannerisms they didn't have before
  • Complaints of headaches or diarrhea
  • Skipping meals
  • Unexplained marks on the body (signs of cutting, for example)

Pass-Along Stress

Don't transfer your anxiety to your kid. Learn to manage your own tension while teaching your child healthy coping mechanisms. Some simple dos and don'ts:

DON'T... hide your stress. "Letting children know that Mom and Dad have pressure too and that this is how they cope with it normalizes it for them," says Dr. Gault.

DO... model how to unwind. With your kids, set up a calming nighttime routine. Reading is a natural choice, but playing a board game can be a good way for the entire family to decompress together.

DON'T... stay online. Set a time to unplug and stick to it. That means no work e-mails, texting or updating your photos on Facebook after a certain hour on weeknights and on weekends. Being digitally connected all the time can contribute to your own stress and sends the message to your kids that it's okay for them to be continually connected as well.

Originally published in the September 2013 issue of Family Circle magazine.

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