Stress and Teens — A Simple Way for Parents to Get Centered

Posted January 11, 2009 by

Being a parent of a teenager is inherently stressful – I think the words “teenager” and “stress” are actually synonyms – and any way you can figure out how to prevent stress while dealing with your kids is a huge help. As the adoptive parents of five kids, we’ve found that stress management is key to parental survival!

So why do we have stress? The main reason we have it, in my opinion, is that our lives, or portions of our lives, are out-of-control. Finances, health, kids, time – these are all areas that can easily get overwhelming and quickly can get out-of-control. This is a complex, fast-paced, stress-filled world we live in, and there’s really no way around that unless you live by yourself on a desert island. I know I don’t have that luxury. So how to we reduce our stress? In my opinion, you can’t reduce the stress…but you can learn to handle it.

One way to do this is to get centered. What does it mean to get centered? Getting centered means figuring out something that you can do that will give you a sense of control in your life, even if it’s in a tiny way. It might not even be anything that needs controlling, but it has to be something you can control. So even if you can’t control any or all of the big things, if you can control something small, it can do wonders for your overall stress level.

How do you get centered? Figure out something that’s relaxing or soothing for you, and that gives you a sense of accomplishment when you get done. I heard about a CEO of a major corporation who gets centered by separating small paper clips from large ones. When his assistant told him they could have someone else do that, he almost ripped the container of mixed-up paper clips out of his hand! Nope, that was his job, thank you very much! I have a couple of things I do to get centered – the main one is to mow the lawn. Now I know, most guys my age can hardly wait for their kids to get old enough to hand that job over to them, but as far as I’m concerned, they’ll never learn how to do it! Believe me, the kids are not too bummed – they don’t get centered the same way I do. Anyway, I just love the feeling and the satisfaction of seeing that freshly mowed and edged lawn, with hardly a blade of grass out of place. It gets me centered. Another technique of mine is making the bed. It’s my wife this time that doesn’t mind this quirk of mine. I love the look of a smooth, tightly made bed with the sheets and blankets tucked in perfectly. Ahhhh! My wife Julie’s method of preventing stress? To clean the sliding glass door. When she’s feeling out-of-control, she almost runs for the Windex and paper towels, and gets that baby so clean you could eat off of it. It’s her way of getting centered.  So there you go — sometimes a very small action can serve to calm us down and focus our thoughts, which is what you need to get control back.

Do you feel like your life is out-of-control? Well, figure out what gets you centered, and you’re well on your way to figuring out how to prevent stress. Take back control of your house TODAY! Learn effective parenting skills that will work right away! The Total Transformation Program will empower you as parents in ways you never thought possible!

Do you have any stress-busting techniques? Share them here!


Matt and Julie Hellstrom are Parent Bloggers for EP

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  1. raya Report

    Hi. Thanks for this. I get centered by decluttering and organizing, but I’m afraid that this “centering” can morph into ocd-like behavior that helps me to procrastinate and avoid doing what I need to do…Setting a timer is helpful…I really appreciate the support here; it’s really challenging, indeed, to be a parent!

  2. TP Report

    Hi all parents,
    I just wanted to say that I loved the saying that mother
    hood is the hardest job but the most rewardinig.
    That is so true. When I am at work to relieve stress I read little sayings Like
    Anger is only one letter short of danger.
    Just because someone does’t love you the way you want them to, doesn’t mean they don’t love you with all they have
    reading them always make me feel better before I go home to be with the kids ( 2 boys 13 asberger and 14 ODD)
    It helps me know I can handle anything that comes my way when I walk in the door to my home


  3. RaiulBaztepo Report

    Very Interesting post! Thank you for such interesting resource!
    PS: Sorry for my bad english, I’v just started to learn this language 😉
    See you!
    Your, Raiul Baztepo

  4. don2rose Report

    I like to excersize. Especially running 5 miles and playing tennis. The crisp , cool air and the music on my Ipod is all that I need. And , it is helping me loose weight and stay healthy. Also sets a good example to my boys ages 11 and 13. Though they are great kids.. they are teens.. filled with emotion, challenges and disasters! Motherhood is the hardest job, and the most rewarding !

  5. roger Report

    Matt and Julie

    First allow me to commend you for taking on the responsibility of adopting five kids! What a blessing you are to our society.

    Stress is definitely an issue with kids, teens in particular. I agree that the important issue is how you deal with it. Your suggestions for getting centered are great.

    Matt, I thought I was alone on this one but I too find that mowing and edging the lawn actually relaxes me. My friends all thought I was insane when I told them this a while ago. The important thing, as you said, is to find what works for YOU.

    Sorry if this is not PC enough for some readers but I also deal with stress much more easily when I am spiritually centered. For me, prayer has repeatedly relieved stress.

    For teens I find that setting reasonable rules and consequences and standing your ground on them, while sometimes making them upset at the time, will ultimately garner respect. The more consistency (individually and as a combined parent team), the more respect. The less your teen has to guess how their parents will react to situations, the more likely they are to do the right thing, which equates to less stress. Also, if you and your spouse are consistently together on rules and consequences, your teen (or child of any age) will find that playing one parent off the other does not work.

    Best wishes for a less stressful household in 2009!

  6. JH Report

    I find that doing a crossword puzzle really helps me. It gets my mind occupied with something comepletely unemotional and I am able to complete something. There is a sort of satisfaction in that. I keep a book of puzzles in my bedroom to escape to when I need a break. I guess I never thought of it as centering before. Laundry folding is a big one for me too. Thanks for the encouragement. Parenting can be exhausting!

  7. Louise Sanborn Report

    Matt and Julie, thanks for this great post. It’s important for us parents to identify what it is that can help us calm down. (This is especially good for me to remember when I’m about to blow my top!) Like GC, breathing helps a lot…also sorting laundry (there’s something about sorting things that really calms me down. Go figure!)…and going for a walk, if at all possible. Thanks for the great tips, and welcome to the EP Parent Blogger Team!

  8. GC Report

    I find that breathing helps me stay calm, and to believe that I am doing the right thing by saying no We have a teenage daughter with ADHD and ODD with emerging borderline personality disorder. It’s totally exhausting! I am a firm believer in boundaries for kids, my husband is more liberal and that was the niche that was exploited by our girl. I am a step parent too. I take great comfort in knowing that when she is older she will re consider and know that I did what was best for her long term. I think it’s important to look at it long term too, that’s one of the things that helps me when I see the mood changing. Also, I find it helpful to distract the child, I will ostensibly look at something else with great interest…obliging her to stop her own train of thought and get curious…her anger is not the center of my universe! Currently she is in a treatment center to help her come to terms with a lot of emotional issues. It’s a hard lesson to learn for a child who has these methods ingrained, I am proud of her for taking so much on board.



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