Helping Teens Manage the Pressure of Unknowns and Moving Goalposts

The experts at TeenTips share ten ways parents can help their teens manage pressure and their ability to deal with the unknowns

With schooling teetering on the brink of lockdown, bubbles bursting, exams in a state of flux and assessments looming, it's not surprising if your teens are feeling a bit discombobulated.  

Despite the government announcement that GCSEs and A levels are set to go ahead this year, you'd be forgiven for harbouring an element of doubt. There still seems to be uncertainty in the air and even the most laid back of students may be feeling the pressure of the unknown. 

While we can't take the state of flux out of their lives, we can help teens to manage the uncertainty. Take a look at our tips below on how to help them deal with the uncertainty of today's world.

  1. Be positive - It's really important to be optimistic about their future. If, as parents, we're not positive, how on earth can they be? Model your behaviour for them. It's ok to worry but they also need to see adults can sort situations out and be adaptable.
  2. Accept and recognise their concerns and that we can't solve their worries. Acknowledge that we can all worry about the future but, actually there's not a lot of point. Help them focus on right now and dealing with what they can deal with in the immediate. 
  3. Acknowledge that this changing state is highly unusual but also reinforce the fact that everyone's in same boat and going through same thing. It will work out, just perhaps not in the way we were assuming.
  4. Stop trying to predict the future - that'll drive you mad, but the more focussed and prepared you can be now, the more prepared you'll be when whatever does happen happens. You can only prepare for the now, work hard now, take exercise now etc. 
  5. Focus on small achievable time frames and goals to stop the extrapolation out and what if's that come from thinking too in depth about what the future holds. 
  6. Spending time with your children is absolutely key. It always was, but right now activities like  eating dinner together and spending quality time with them is even more important. Walk with them, talk with them and if they're reluctant talkers, consider parallel activities to ease conversation flow - like going on a drive to (literally) provide a vehicle to talk to them. They may be sulky or sullen at first, but if you can chat casually or even discuss your worries and dilemmas with them, they'll be more likely to express their feelings too.
  7. Be interested in what your teens are interested in - whether that's tik tok or football and fake it if necessary! Teenagers tend not to respond to 'how was your day', they will be far more likely to respond and engage if it's something they're actually interested in that affects them. 
  8. Find a box set, TV series or family activity to watch together - be it a Sunday night drama like The Queen, a romp through some rom coms or a nightly board game, it'll provide a focal point and shared experience to talk about. 
  9. Consider doing a yoga or meditation session with them and work out ways for them to relax with you.
  10. It's advice on almost any piece for teens - but sleep, sleep, sleep & eat, eat, eat! If you can ensure phones and other tech are not in their rooms, that they get a good solid eight hours of sleep and eat three sensible, healthy and nutritional meals a day, you will help them manage everything so much better. No one wants a hangry teen or, for that matter a hangry parent, so perhaps take that as advice for all of us!