Survival Guide: How to Handle Family Stress

From Above the Noise.

Family really getting to you? You’re not alone. Even as stay-at-home orders are loosening, you’re probably spending way more time at home than you’d like to be. This can lead to some family tension—especially between teens and parents. Myles Bess talks to some experts about how to keep the peace with your family.

#stuckathome #family #coping

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Why do teens and their parents argue so much?
For the most part, it’s pretty normal developmentally for teens and their parents to argue a bunch. During your teenage years, you’re going through a whole lot of biological and cognitive changes. For example, the pre-frontal cortex, the part of the brain that’s responsible for a lot of executive functions like decision-making and problem-solving, is developing. So teens are more capable of abstract thought and compared to younger kids begin to think independently from their parents– and a lot of time arguing with their parents is a way of flexing their new cognitive skills.

What are some tips for resolving conflict?
To resolve conflict, Christine Carter, a sociologist at the Greater Good Science Center at UC Berkeley recommends to first walk away and calm down before trying to talk to someone you have a conflict with. Once you’re calm, rather than being judgemental or accusatory, try to approach the conversation by saying how you are feeling. It’s hard to argue with someone’s feelings. And when trying to reach a resolution for a conflict, try to understand the other person’s motivation and how a resolution might benefit them as well.

How can you manage stress while stuck at home with your family?
Carving out alone time, spending time with friends, getting on a regular sleep schedule and getting enough exercise are all strategies that can help you manage stress. And when it comes to being stuck at home with family, for teens it is especially important to maintain friendships. So in addition to carving out alone time, make sure you schedule virtual time with friends. And a good way teens can support each other through this time is just to check in with one another, ask how each other is doing, and really listen.

What do I do if I don’t feel safe at home?
If you don’t feel safe at home, consider contacting one of these places for help.
National Domestic Violence Hotline: https://www.thehotline.org/
The Crisis Text Line: https://www.crisistextline.org/

SELECTED RESOURCES:
Adolescents and young adults are paying a high price for Covid-19 prevention (STAT News)
https://www.statnews.com/2020/04/27/adolescents-young-adults-paying-high-price-covid-19-prevention/

Is Adolescence a Sensitive Period for Sociocultural Processing? (Annual Review of Psychology, 2014)
https://www.annualreviews.org/doi/pdf/10.1146/annurev-psych-010213-115202

Teenagers: Why Do They Rebel? (WebMD)
https://www.webmd.com/parenting/features/teenagers-why-do-they-rebel#1

How COVID-19 may increase domestic violence and child abuse (American Psychological Association)
https://www.apa.org/topics/covid-19/domestic-violence-child-abuse

Intimate Partner Violence and Child Abuse During COVID-19 (Psychology Today) https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/happiness-is-state-mind/202004/intimate-partner-violence-and-child-abuse-during-covid-19

COVID-19 Resource and Information Guide (National Alliance on Mental Illness)
https://www.nami.org/covid-19-guide

A Community for LGBTQ+ Teens (Q-chat Space)
https://www.qchatspace.org/

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