My husband and I were sitting at high school orientation when the principal began to brag about the amount of stress our teens would experience as a freshman. Suddenly the teenage dream of going to High School…began to feel like a nightmare. I felt my stomach tighten and my husband squeezed my hand. My husband passed me a note that said, “Are they doing to teach them how to manage the stress?”
I grabbed a pen and wrote him back, “I will teach them.” I knew then that while I had been helping children manage stress for the last decade, I needed to create a CD to help teens manage anxiety, stress, and anger. Indigo Teen Dreams was born in that moment.
Teens today are under extreme pressure to succeed in academics, sports, and other extracurricular activities. Some hold jobs. Many have both parents working long demanding hours. Often teens are living with single parents or dealing with a divorce. Social dynamics have changed and become more complicated. Teens are exposed to more information and given more life style choices than past generations. They have experience homeland terrorism and natural disasters like no other generation. Texting, instant messaging and internet accounts have added dimensions most of us as parents are still trying to figure out. Cyber-bullying is a new term coined for this generation. All of these challenges increase teen stress. The five stressors most frequently felt by teens are school work, parents, romantic relationships, and friend problems.
Teenagers are not sure who they are or where they fit in. Friendships and relationships are volatile at this tender age. Their lives are full of unknowns. They still need their parents yet want to prove that they are independent beings, separate from their parents. As a parent who has raised 3 teenagers; I found myself consciously trying to weaving coping strategies into conversations and situations. Like storytelling, I learned to create interesting scenarios that allowed me to integrate guidance. I found that this type of conversation was one they were more willing to listen to. Timing also was important. They seemed more willing to let their walls down late at night while making a snack and while driving in the car. Subtle suggestions referencing situations from my teen life and the mistakes I made seem to entertain them. I took every opportunity to incorporate stress management techniques into their lives. I tried to demonstrate how to handle a crisis or challenge with a calm and positive outlook. My teens poked fun at me when I took deep breaths before helping them find a math book and told me I was nuts when I would make positive calming statements out loud, but secretly they were taking notes. I knew my plan was working when they got hold of my laptop computer and changed my home screen to funny affirmations. I knew then that some of my antics were seeping into their souls.
Teens can benefit from learning stress and anger management techniques. Most teens will experience a relaxed state the first time they listen to my Indigo Teen Dreams CD. With repetition they can decrease their overall levels of anger and anxiety. The techniques of progressive muscular relaxation, diaphragmatic breathing, visualizing, and positive statements can also improve sleep. Within the medical community, it is generally thought that 20 minutes of relaxation a day can reduce generalized anxiety. My theory is that teaching a teen to take just one breath before acting can save them from a life altering action or choice. One breath can prevent a teen from saying something they regret. One breath can be enough to stop a violent act. One breath can prevent making a choice that can alter a lifetime. Even one minute of relaxation is beneficial. Relaxation is contagious. One breath can send a ripple effect of calm throughout a house. Teens learn by example so keep breathing, making a loud “Ahhhhhh” when you let the air out of your mouth. Say out loud, “I am calm” and get ready to laugh with your teen when they laugh at you. Laughter is a great stress reducer!
Stress Free Kids founder Lori Lite has created a line of books and CDs designed to help children, teens, and adults decrease stress, anxiety, and anger. Ms. Lite’s books, CDs, and lesson plans are considered a resource for parents, psychologists, therapists, child life specialists, teachers, and yoga instructors. Lori is a certified children’s meditation facilitator and Sears’ Manage My Life parenting expert. For more information visit Stress Free Kids and for daily advice follow Lori on Twitter and Facebook.
Indigo Dreams: Teen Relaxation Music is the first music CD designed specifically to relax teenage bodies and minds.