This week on Weekend Wondering Linda Manaena, Co-Founder of iparenteens join’s Dave to explain why you should Stop telling your teens to toughen up! If they are doing it tough in the first few weeks at school.
Although parents might be happy to get their teens out of the house, going back to school
can be a rude awakening for teens. The first few weeks can be tough because after an
extended holiday break getting back into a routine is hard for them, not to mention
everyone else in the family.
Dr Leanne Wall and Linda Manaena, Co-Founders of iparenteens™, said parents may notice
their teen’s behaviour change in the days leading up to, and in the first few weeks of school
which can be stressful and disruptive for the entire family.
Headaches, tears, withdrawal, irritability and anger are signs of anxiousness which can hit
teens hard as they face the daunting task of going back to school and everything that this
brings with it.
Dr Wall, Counsellor and Coach says, "Anxious teens often worry about a range of school-
related issues. Fitting in with classmates, bullying, adjusting to new teachers and
classrooms, changes in sleep routines, feeling overwhelmed with an increased workload or
extra-curricular activities, and pressure from parents.
We might think that teens are old enough to handle the stress, but right now they are
experiencing significant developmental changes in their brain and with their emotions which
can impact the way they react to what’s happening in their environment.
What may seem trivial to parents could be considered disastrous by their teens
;If you look at all the research, stress and anxiety amongst teens is on the rise with anxiety
being the most common mental health challenge faced by adolescents today; says Dr Wall.
Manaena, a Coach who helps parents communicate and connect with their teens, said its
easy for busy parents to default to being dismissive or disapproving of their teen’s anxious
Stop telling your teens to toughen up, get over it, or you’ll be alright," Manaena says.
Manaena added that as well-intended as they might be, comments like this from parents
don’t help teens. Not only could parents overlook vital signs that their teen needs help and
support, but a lack of empathy could also do long term damage to their relationship.
Sometimes parents didn’t experience anxiety when they were teens, so they don’t understand what it’s like, they’re repeating what their own parents said to them, or parents want their teens to be OK and don’t know what else to say.
So, what are the top 5 strategies for parents if they see their teens struggling through the
first few weeks of going back to school?
1. CONNECT WITH YOUR TEEN
Look for opportunities to listen to your teen, e.g. when you’re both in the car or during
dinnertime. For some teens, talking casually feels less intense.
2. ASK WHAT’S WORRYING THEM
Ask your teen to share their fears and talk about what’s on their mind. Actively listen to
them to understand what they’re worried about. Resist the urge to butt in and tell them
how to solve what they perceive as issues.
3. ACKNOWLEDGE AND VALIDATE THEM
Let your teen know that you hear them and acknowledge and validate their feelings.
Don’t tell them everything is going to be alright, and they should stop worrying. Let
them hear that you get that going back to school can be daunting.
4. HELP THEM PROBLEM SOLVE
Sometimes talking about worries can be helpful and will make them feel less worried. If
your teen still feels anxious, help them develop a coping plan. Rather than solve the
problem for them, ask your teen what they think would help them. You can then guide
them in the right direction with some careful questioning.
5. PAY ATTENTION TO YOUR OWN BEHAVIOUR
Teens often take cues from their parents, so the more confidence and calm you can
model the more they will believe in their own ability to cope. Be supportive yet firm.
Mental health disorders in adolescence are the leading cause of illness and disability for
young people aged 10 to 19 years, ahead of any physical disease. In Australia, a 22%
reduction in cases translates to 44,317 young people every year for whom these mental
disorders are preventable. (Black Dog Institute October 2016).
If parents are concerned about their teen’s level of anxiety and it is impacting on their day
to day life, then they should seek professional help and advice. Alternatively, they (or their
teen) can contact Kidshelpline on 1800 55 1800. Lifeline is also a great resource on 13 11 14
About the Co-Founders of iparenteens™
iparenteens™ supports parents with teens through private coaching and evidence-based
programs. iparenteens™ has a vision of deeply connecting 1 million parents and teens
globally by 2025.
Leanne Wall is a Doctor, Coach, Counsellor, and parent of two adolescents. Located in
Sydney, she is a coach to parents with teens and Corporate Executive Coach specialising in
stress and self-care as well as mental health in the workplace.
Linda Manaena is a Coach, DISC Behaviour Consultant and parent of two adolescents.
Located in Tasmania, she is a coach to parents of teens and Corporate Leadership Coach
specialising in communication, connection and behaviour.