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Help Teans Chill Out

Stress-busting tips for parents from John Muir Health experts

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Life has its challenges for today’s teens—given the demands of school and the college application process, sports and clubs, relationships and peer pressure. The stress can lead to depression or other behavioral problems, experts say, but parents can help.
          Simply paying attention to your child can go a long way toward identifying and relieving stress before it becomes a serious problem, says Gabriel Welcher, a counselor at John Muir Health’s Behavioral Health Center. “Observe your kid and communicate,” Welcher says. “You’d be surprised how many parents and kids don’t talk.  They eat dinner separately, then the kid goes in his room and [clicks on his] TV [or] computer. That decreases the time the parent can observe what’s [truly] going on.”
          Jean Mirando, a counselor at the Behavioral Health Center, emphasizes the importance of family time—a special meal or a movie night at home, for example—when kids don’t have to worry about external issues like grades or what their friends are doing. “Don’t schedule kids 24/7, even if they enjoy those activities,” Mirando says. “Kids need some free time.”
          Parents can also play a role in relieving teens’ academic pressure. “Don’t make [your kids] feel, for example, that if they don’t [take] this advanced placement class they aren’t going to get into college,” says Mirando. Especially in these tough economic times, she adds, it’s also important not to burden teens by discussing the family’s financial problems.
          Encouraging your child to lead a healthy lifestyle, including eating right and getting enough sleep, can also reduce stress. But, if despite your best efforts, he or she starts to exhibit changes in behavior—such as lethargy, increased irritability, or withdrawing from friends or family—or if grades drop suddenly, consider seeking the help of a mental health professional.
John Muir Health offers a variety of outpatient and inpatient behavioral health services, for patients of all ages. For more info, visit TK URL or call (925) 674-4100.

GO |Parents: When you complete John Muir Health’s 10-week Parent Project Sr. course, your child is eligible for a new class geared for teens. For more info or to register, visit http://johnmuirhealth.com/classes or call (925) 941-7900.


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