For a stress-free transition from school or college
Parents must be aware of their situation and shouldn’t push their kids to adjust as rapidly as possible or as quickly as others.
CHENNAI: Many students will soon complete their education at the high school and college levels and switch to new environments. New people, a new way of life — all of this is anticipated. Few can adapt to the new setting, but many can’t. It might be because they have pals from the same school, but for a select few, it might be completely new because they might move to a different location for their higher education.
They have to deal with a lot of difficulties as a result, and because of the excessive burden of discomfort and awkwardness created by such setting, there is even a chance that they could burn out. The stress of the shift will be clearly seen as changes in them, such as absenteeism, boredom, lack of interest, aggression, sleep problems, etc.
Parents must be aware of their situation and shouldn’t push their kids to adjust as rapidly as possible or as quickly as others. They should also avoid the notion that everyone is the same, which is untrue. That will ultimately cause frustration.
Understanding adolescence (teenagers): The period of transition
Adolescence is a stage in a person’s life during which significant cognitive, physical, social, and emotional changes take place, according to Erikson (1963). During this adolescence period of time, ‘they will be dealing with lots of confusion in their role and identity’ (Natsuaki, Biehl & Ge, 2009).
Before the adolescent decides who, he/she is and who he/she wants to imitate, many a mediocre role model occupies the podium for a while.
Signs that your teen is experiencing stress
- Physical illness: Frequent headache, body aches, frequent fever
- Changes in lifestyle: Unhealthy foods, substance use
- Increased amount of spending time along with gadgets or sleeping
- Sleep and behaviour changes
- Negative self-talks
- Difficulty in concentration and decision making (dilemma)
- Feeling overwhelmed
How to help teenagers deal with the stress of transition
- Interacting with parents and maintaining open lines of communication with them can aid in and promote a smooth transition
- Consistently keep a journal. Determine ‘what causes what.’ Find your triggers by colouring with markers. Underline the trigger. Understand your triggers and their patterns, for example, by writing in your journal, “Today I went to college I saw many students standing near me I felt them as a stranger,” where you can see that your thinking is “I felt them as a stranger,” highlight it, and begin working on it
- You can start focusing and exploring your surroundings (such as a college campus or the workplace), getting familiar with the locals, and engaging in things that make you feel better to prevent burnout
- Develop awareness
- Look for professional assistance
Managing teenagers as a parent
- Parents must understand their kids and listen to them without passing judgement on them. Give them a space to express their thoughts. Make sure they feel at ease with you by sitting close to them, holding their hand, placing your hand on their shoulder, and maintaining good eye contact. Here, developing positive relationships and, more crucially, trust, is the main idea.
- Do not anticipate a quick change. Everything moves at its own pace. Hence, learn to modify your expectations. Admit that your child has grown up and stop expecting them to remain the child you previously had. Embrace the change and demonstrate something that increases their productivity.
- Try to engage in constructive discussion regarding events in class. (Talk about concepts they learned in class, etc.)
- Provide them wholesome food options. Be an excellent role model. As a parent, live the way you want your children to live.
- Go on an excursion with them to spend some time in nature; it might even be a stroll in the evening while you listen to music.
- Show them how to deal with stress. Suggest them to read good motivational books, discuss some motivational life stories inculcate productive ways to cope with stress.
- Teach them resilience skills. Praise them.
- Plan for some digital detox.
(The writer is a counselling psychologist at Fortis Hospitals, Chennai)