Stress and Anxiety

Mental Health   ›   Stress and Anxiety

Stress is a normal physical reaction, but it can become harmful for teenagers when it builds up. What can we do when our child’s stress becomes an overwhelming anxiety?

What is Stress?

First of all, you should know that stress is normal. It’s the body’s physical reaction to pleasant or unpleasant situations.


Sometimes we can find it bothersome, but it can also be useful when it gives us the energy we need to study and pass exams, as well as the motivation to keep going. Stress is vital!


But it can become harmful when it accumulates. At that point, it can reduce your teen’s concentration, their grades, and their patience. It can also cause them to be irritable, tired, or even lead to depression.


Stress: how to recognize it and what to do.

Helping Manage Stress

By being sensitive to the signs your teen is showing, you can help prevent stress accumulating and support them in managing it using different means:


  • Helping them plan their activities, hobbies, and schoolwork.
  • Helping them think about it to avoid overloading and be able to balance their activities: extracurricular, social, family-related, intimate relationships (focusing on these before accepting anything else).
  • Giving pointers to help them relax: taking a bath, listening to music, drawing, exercising, taking a break, etc.
  • Being available for them to talk about their feelings and the stressful situations they’re going through.
  • Suggesting that they also talk about it to their friends, to other trusted adults, or to Tel-jeunes workers.
  • Helping identify the most stressful current aspect of their life and thinking together about what they could change in order to feel better.
  • Brainstorming together about healthy habits in terms of food, sleep, physical exercise, their ability to take care of themselves, and having fun.
  • If your teen is feeling persistent, intense, or excessive fear, and if it’s preventing them from living out their daily lives, it’s important to see a doctor or a professional that could assess their situation and offer some help.


When Stress Becomes Anxiety

It’s time to start asking questions when someone starts feeling stressed in situations where they generally aren’t. For example, teens can sometimes get stressed out at certain times in their lives without it being a problem. But if your teen is feeling intense stress about activities or family gatherings, for example, or if they feel stressed every time they need to go to school or see their friends, there might be good reasons to want to look at the situation more closely.

Recognizing Anxiety in Your Teen

  • Teens that are very anxious go through intense and long-lasting feelings of worry and distress in response to unrealistic or unreasonable fears. It could be that your teen doesn’t want to go to school anymore because another student made fun of them last week, for example.
  • Anxious teens might see events as more dangerous than they really are. For example, your teen could think that the whole class is out to get them, or that they’ll be ridiculed by the whole school, without them having been threatened or even intimidated before.
  • Anxious teens can be constantly preoccupied by their fears and insecurities, which may affect how they behave in their daily lives (at school, at work, etc.) and in their personal relationships. For example, your teen could be very afraid of going through another embarrassing situation in class, they may imagine that another friend might make fun of them at school, and they might always think of the worst that could happen with this person and others.
  • Anxiety-related problems can lead to physical discomfort such as dizziness, chest pains, heart racing, hot flashes, trouble sleeping, and recurrent issues concentrating. They can even lead to irritability, aggressiveness, and violent behaviour.


It’s hard to get a teen to change their behaviour or to go see a psychologist, but you can support them in thinking about how to make informed decisions. However, as parents, our role includes taking action when our teens are dealing with overwhelming anxiety.