6 Tips for Helping Your Pre-Teen Cope with Stress
Guide your pre-teen towards a less anxious life through daily stress-relief techniques.
If you had to describe this year in one word, you might just pick “stressful.” Not only has this year been a doozy for busy parents juggling family, work, and personal responsibilities, but it’s really taken a toll on kids and teens.
While young kids may not be as heavily affected as older teens, pre-teens are often caught right in the middle. They’re old enough to understand what’s going on, but not old enough to have the independence or freedom that their older high school or college-age siblings have.
If your pre-teen has been feeling stressed and anxious or acting withdrawn, angry, or sad, they might need your help to get out of their rut.
Here are 8 highly effective ways you can help your pre-teen fight their stress and anxiety.
1. When your pre-teen needs to vent, just sit with them and listen.
Parents naturally want to solve problems, and usually that means offering advice to their kids. However, sometimes the best thing to do for your pre-teen is to sit quietly and listen.
If your child is reluctant to open up because they often feel as though they’re being lectured, make them this promise: you will listen to what they have to say and you’ll only offer advice if they specifically ask for it.
This can take some practice on your part, but keep in mind your own experiences of how healing it can be to simply have a trusted person listen to you offload all the thoughts in your head.
2. Encourage your pre-teen to explore different creative outlets, such as writing, painting, or drawing.
An unfortunate side-effect of stress is a loss of creativity. If your child is normally very creative and you’ve noticed they seem to have lost interest, encourage them to try again. You might buy them a new journal or pick them up some new paints to try out.
Creative outlets like painting, writing, sculpting, and general arts and crafts are a very effective stress-reliever, even for kids who don’t typically gravitate towards those things. Something as simple as a coloring book of beautiful designs can help your pre-teen relax.
3. One-on-one brunch dates help nurture your bond and give your pre-teen a chance to chat privately.
If you have a big family or find yourself caught up with work a lot, planning a once a week or month, one-on-one brunch date with your pre-teen is a wonderful idea. This gives you a chance to bond with your child and chat about whatever they’d like, without interruptions from siblings.
You can also take turns with your spouse or partner so each child in your family gets at least one day of mom or dad to themselves every month.
4. Help your pre-teen develop daily health rituals, like dental care and skincare routines.
The older kids get, the more important their appearance becomes to them. Pre-teens are right on that cusp where they tend to start paying a lot more attention to their looks. Your son or daughter may even already show some concerns about their physical appearance, such as worry over a pimple or wanting a whiter smile.
You can help your pre-teen feel confident by working together to create daily routines for skincare, dental care, and hair care. These daily rituals also function as stress-relievers as they give structure when life doesn’t feel so stable.
5. Schedule their healthcare appointments ahead of time and consider making it a day off.
Annual physicals, optometry appointments, and dental appointments are all preventive care appointments that you can schedule ahead of time and mark in your family’s calendar. They save you the worry of forgetting appointments and give your pre-teen a heads up of important dates. You can even schedule your pre-teen’s next dental appointment with us right now.
A lovely idea to add to this is to make these appointments a day off for your pre-teen. Rather than go back to school, see if you can take off work and go spend the day together.
6. Keep an eye on their bedtime habits to ensure they get enough sleep every night.
As pre-teens get older, you might be a little less strict about bedtime. However, it’s still really important to keep an eye on them and ensure they’re getting enough sleep. Late nights texting friends or watching YouTube on their phone or tablet can really throw off their sleep routine, resulting in added stress, fatigue, and even increase health risks.
Aim for your pre-teen to get nine to 9.5 hours of restful sleep every night.
Parents, make sure you’re taking time to handle your own stress as well.
The role of being a parent and a provider can make it easy to forget about yourself when you’re supporting a stressed-out child. When life gets tough, remind yourself to fill your cup first. Take the time to relax, practice self-care, and recharge yourself mentally, emotionally, and physically before you give yourself to others. You’ll find that the better you care for yourself, the better you can care for those around you.