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Teens and the Stress of Starting A New School Year

Posted by Dr. Ann Gatty

With the start of a new school year, many teens are busy getting ready, not only by buying notebooks, pencils and pens, but by finding ways to present a new shiny image that embraces the latest fashion trends, hairstyles and makeovers.  The new school year signals a new beginning and an opportunity for being noticed.  With all of this planning, there is a lot of pressure on teens and the stress increases along the way.

On top of that, messages in the media don’t make it any easier for our teens.  If you listen to the what’s being communicated, you hear some recurring themes along the lines of,  “Who you are today isn’t good enough for tomorrow.”  Teens find that they have to continually buy new stuff and spend more just to keep up with what they perceive is expected of them.  Magazines offer many ways for teens to create a new look that keeps up with the latest trends, catch the perfect guy, and create a complete face and hair makeover.  It’s no wonder that teens and stress go hand-in-hand.  They are continually worried what their friends and peers in their social circles will think of them.

So what’s a parent to do to help worried teens and stress overload?

Here are four tips I have found helpful.

Make your home a safe haven.  Since teenage years are filled with drama, volatile emotions, steep learning curves and challenging life decisions, the world can seem like a dangerous place at times.  Add to this the social pressures of keeping up with all of the media expectations with which teens are bombarded.  Getting away from these daily pressures can provide an opportunity to regroup and gain a healthy perspective.  One of the most helpful things I try to offer is a home that is a safe haven for teens.  When they are at home, they can be themselves without worrying about being criticized for not being up on the latest trend or following the social rules established by the school cliques.  It’s comforting for teens and stress can be left outside the door.

Be a role model.  Dealing with social situations can be difficult for teens and stress often results from not knowing how to handle conflicts with best friends, or disappointments over not being chosen for a specific activity.  By modeling how I handle conflicts with friends, or how I handle social events, I am offering my teens examples that they can try for their own situations.

Offer honest advice.  I like to think that I am someone with whom my teens can talk and ask advice regarding how to handle different situations that arise in their lives.  I do not try to be a best friend, but I do try to be someone who is approachable and honest with advice when asked for my opinion.

Encourage your teens to discover and develop their own talents.  During these years, teens are trying to discover who they are and what they should do with their lives when they grow up.  Helping teens identify and discover how to use these talents is a self confidence boost and it reduces stress as a result.  It’s great when teens start to become proud of their unique abilities and stop worrying about trying to fit in with others’ expectations.

Teens and their high levels of stress will always be a topic of discussion for parents, but finding ways to make these years less filled with turmoil will lower the likelihood of emotional outbursts and help your teen be more comfortable with who he  is in his own skin.

These are my tips to help teens adjust to the start of a new school year.  What are yours?


About Dr. Ann Gatty

Ann Gatty, a life coach, inforpreneur, author and organizational strategist. She has taught in classrooms and organizational training sessions and now works as a life coach for professional and personal development. Dr. Gatty has developed curriculum for college courses, organizational training and personal development. From her work and personal experiences, she finds a continuous need among women, of all walks of life, to find a life balance between professional goals and personal responsibilities. Ann Gatty hosts a website,, which offers stress management strategies, life skill development, and a means of finding your true passion in life. She has also authored Discovering God’s Recipe for a Healthy Body, Heart and Soul. Ann Gatty earned a Ph.D. in Instruction and Learning from the University of Pittsburgh, School of Education. She is married, the mother of two young adult boys, and shares her home with her husband, two Great Danes and a Bassett Hound.

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