Teens and Pressure
You want the best for your teen. You want her in the best school, taking the best classes. You want her involved and developing her abilities and skills. You want her to be challenged and all this is important for her brain development.
But there is something that is sabotaging your teen’s development. You look at your daughter and there is something off. She is not carefree. You don’t hear her laughing or being playful. It’s like the light in her soul has gone out….and it has.
She is under too much pressure.
This is confusing for moms. Your daughter needs pressure to study, do chores, communicate, and obey your rules.
Your teen needs a little pressure to succeed but how much is too much?
I have seen teenage girls in my private practice for over 20 years. For ten years I would see girls who had behavior problems such as sneaking out or partying too much.
Now, the majority of teens I see are stumbling under a ton of pressure.
When teens are under too much pressure they get stressed out, suffer from anxiety, and their performance and productivity decrease. When this happens a debilitating shame is right around the corner. Your daughter feels like a huge failure and your daughter can self-destruct.
Our teens are under Big Pressure that is fueled by our culture. There is a national epidemic of pressure and our teenagers are suffering. Your daughter feels the pressure to do it all and do it all perfectly. This impacts her health and the quality of her life. She is not having much fun when she is overly stressed out. Stress puts her at risk.
The pressure affects her physically. She has somatic complaints of headaches, stomach aches, and feeling faint. She can be fidgety, have difficulty focusing, and have trouble sleeping.
The pressure affects her emotions. She is short-tempered, irritable, anxious, and impatient. She is prone to sadness, despair, worry, fear, frustration and anger.
This pressure turns into habits that are exhibited by nail-biting, pulling her hair, picking at her skin, nonstop eating, pacing and in severe cases cutting.
The Pressure Cooker
Your teen is in a pressure cooker and there are a lot of facets thrown in the pot. Here’s what happens when things start to heat up.
The pressure of time.
When I ask my teens why they are so stressed, they say, “I don’t have enough time to get my work done.” One reason for this is teens don’t plan ahead but another reason is their lives get out of balance with a heavy academic load and activities. As a result of this, your daughter loses downtime, sleep, and exercise which are needed for her mental and emotional health.
The pressure to make good grades.
The pressure to make good grades in order to get into her dream college is at an all-time high. Your daughter knows where she ranks in her class and feels shame about it. I’ve seen plenty of freshmen freak out if they make a C on a test and feel their future is over. This pressure is the reason your daughter blows up when you ask her about her biology test.
Pressure to compete.
Competition is healthy when it is at a low level of pressure. Low-level pressure motivates your daughter because she has confidence that she can make the grade or improve her skills with a little more work. Success feels doable, realistic, and reachable. When she sees girls rewarded for their efforts she is motivated to try harder. In contrast, high pressure feels hopeless and your daughter shuts down.
I remember when I was at the University of Arkansas for graduate school. I was a head resident for a freshmen dorm and one of the new girls asked me to play tennis. I was a decent enough tennis player and I thought,“How good can she be, she is just a freshman?” It turns out she was an incredible tennis player. I started choking. I couldn’t even hit the ball over the net. I felt like an idiot. I completely shut down. After she won, I found out she was the number one tennis player at the University.
Pressure to look perfect.
Your daughter is under constant pressure to look perfect, which is doubly hard when you’re in the pressure cooker. Girls normally feel shame about their bodies and appearance, but when your daughter is under extreme pressure she overeats and drops exercise which definitely doesn’t help her feel her best.
Pressure to fit it.
Your daughter doesn’t want to feel like a loser. She feels pressure to have a busy social life and not be sitting at home. Combine this with peer pressure to stay out later, drink and do drugs, and have sex. She feels this internal pressure with your values and her conscience.
Pressure to date somebody.
If your daughter has a boyfriend or doesn’t have one there is pressure. If she doesn’t have one she feels like a misfit and If she does, there is pressure to spend time with him and the pressure of sex.
Pressure from family stress.
Your teen is impacted by stress at home. Your daughter can’t thrive in a home where there is constant yelling and chaos. Your daughter is affected by life circumstances caused by divorce, moving, loss of job, illness, or death of a loved one.
Too much pressure is robbing your daughter of happiness, health, and productivity. Your daughter needs practical ways to decrease the pressure like taking an easier class or eliminating an activity.
Teens can decrease the pressure through…
- Consistent exercise
- Catching up on her sleep on the weekends
- The calm environment at home
- Time alone and time to vent