Signs that Your Katy Area Student is Overwhelmed with Pressure.
By Lorrie Crow Kimble | KATY MAGAZINE, September 2017
Katy teens and tweens have much more to deal with than kids from 10 years ago. They are feeling pushed to get involved in illegal activities or to dress a certain way or to over excel in school. Peer pressure will always exist, but the teens of today seem to feel the most pressure to find lasting friendships, succeed in school, and make their parents happy.
Finding Positive Friendships
“Friends are a very important part of teenage life,” says Wendy Severance, owner and director of Be Unique, a Christian-based organization. “Most stress can come from finding yourself in the wrong group of friends. Teens tend to hang out in groups of people and it’s difficult to find the right fit for everyone,” she says. Severance adds that if friendships don’t have a comfortable and easy feeling, chances are they aren’t with people who have similar values and principles as they do, which could lead to trouble down the road.
The Dangers of "Frenemies"
Teenagers often find themselves in what is called a “toxic friendship,” which means your child is hanging out with people who are cruel or judgmental. Instead of making people feel accepted, these “frenemies” cause others to have negative feelings about themselves. The need to fit in grows stronger as children age. It can be seen at the junior high and high school level with things as simple as clothing and technology. “When I started eight grade, all of my friends had cell phones. I didn’t have one and my parents wouldn’t buy me one. My friends started to make fun of me and they didn’t want to hang out with me as much. It really hurt my feelings,” shares Torri L.*
Friends can often be seen pressuring others in their group to get involved with dangerous or illegal activities. One parent says, “It’s easy for teens to stop thinking for themselves and allow themselves to be influenced by those friends they think really care about them. It’s our job to remind them to stop and think ‘Do I really need to do that?’ and ‘What would I be getting out of it?’”
Local freshman Samantha A. agrees, “I think I should just surround myself with people who have positive energy, who make me happy, and accept me for me.” Severance advises teens to work toward building stronger relationships between themselves and their families, as well as God, and spend more time with the people who truly care and love them for who they are.
The Pressure to Succeed
Teenagers report feeling more stressed out than adults, with school being a main cause, according to a new survey from the American Psychological Association. Payton J. agrees, saying school is what causes her the most anxiety. “There’s a lot of pressure put on students to know exactly what they want to do with their lives as early as junior high,” she says. “I want to explore many different areas before I have to commit.”
"There’s a lot of pressure put on students
to know exactly what they want to do with
their lives as early as junior high.”
- Payton J.
“I feel pressure to perform at high standards because of teachers, the standardized tests, SATs, and ACTs,” says Jonathon D. “I also feel pressure about getting into college because only the top students go.” Dani D. says she has anxiety about keeping her grades high while putting in as much time as she can into volleyball and training. “I try to meet the expectations of my parents and my coaches.” It’s hard for teens not to compare themselves to others, and 14 and 15 year olds graduating from Ivy League schools doesn’t make it any easier.
Not Measuring Up
Joe Landi, student pastor at Kingsland Baptist Church, says lots of teens burden themselves with even good things like being accepted into college. “They need to understand why they are feeling pressure,” he says. “If their identity comes from things like ‘I don’t measure up if I don’t get an A,’ that’s an unhealthy identity.” Allow some down time, especially during the times in the school year when you know things are going to get hectic - exam week, SATs, ACTs, or before a big game. You might have to force your child to put away the books and homework, but they need to remember that they are still just kids.
“My parents like to get into my business, but I know what I’m doing,” says Diane S. She adds she would like her parents to allow her to have room for trial and error. “I learn by my mistakes.”
Experts caution against spying on your teen too much. If you suspect that she might be up to something she shouldn’t be, you should talk to her about it. She’s more likely to open up if she knows you trust her and will treat her with openness and respect. As children age, they require more privacy in order to become independent, but this doesn’t mean that parents have to give it to them all the time. Use privacy as a privilege which can be given and taken away depending on how it is used.
No matter what happens, they are going to make mistakes and no one is perfect, regardless of how much a person may study or practice. Allowing your teen to choose the classes that suit their interests (not yours) will help your child thrive and make life decisions of their own.
10 SIGNS THAT YOUR TEEN MAY BE NEARING THE BREAKING POINT
Excessive competitiveness in too many areas such as school, activities, and sports
Meltdowns or sudden mood swings that is out of character for your teen
Words of frustration or talk of not being good enough or smart enough
The onset of headaches, stomach aches, or other sudden ailments
Dropping out of once enjoyed activities and extracurricular activities
Extreme tiredness and/or long naps after school or after activities
No longer has time for friends or family
Extreme grade drops in subjects that used to seem easy for him
Agitated, annoyed behavior or an overall sense of sudden negativity
Seems mentally distracted and operating in auto-pilot
*Some Katy teens preferred initials or first names only for privacy reasons
LORRIE CROW KIMBLE gets stressed out too and will use the advice given in this article.
<<BACK TO KATY STORIES