“Why do people want to hurt us?”
Many kids and teens are either thinking or asking this recently. Of course adults are talking about the recent violence in the news: mass shootings in the US and terrorist attacks abroad. As a result, children and teens either overhear, read, or see information about the violence. This can cause a higher level of stress in teens than normal, especially if you’re not explaining to your child what’s happening. Psychology Today recently wrote an article outlining advice on how to handle stress in teens caused by violence in the media.
How the violence on the news affects children & teens
It’s pretty regular for older children and teens to have smartphones now. If it’s not a smartphone, it’s a tablet, laptop, television, etc. The point is that they have access to the media in some form. Because of this, it’s difficult to shield them from harsh events, like the Orlando Shooting.
While it’s important for older children and teens to understand what happens in events like the Orlando Shooting, repetitive images and graphic details about these events aren’t very helpful and can produce stress in teens.
Students already carry a high load of stress from homework, exams, college preparation, and keeping a social life. It can add to the stress when they hear about a school shooting, but no one offers any information or education on what happened–sometimes this can even morph into paranoia.
Ways to address teen stress related to violent news
- You’re there for support. Make sure your child knows you’re there to talk about anxiety or stress that may be developing as a result of recent news. Explain to them that there are many more good natured people than bad. Tell them that there’s an extremely low chance of one of these horrible events every happening to them, but to always be aware.
- Ask them how they feel. This is a good way to figure out whether anxiety or stress in teens is developing. Make sure to ask your teen how they feel about the recent events. Tell them it’s okay to feel sad or scared or angry, but you’re there for support. Parents are looked to for calmness and reassurance–you need to be that.
- Encourage questions. Tell them if they ever have any questions on what happened or what it means, to come to you. This way you can give them calm information instead of them running into something radical online about the event.
These are difficult times, but you can help combat stress in teens by being there for support. While you don’t need to give them all the details of these events, it’s important to be honest and not just act like everything’s normal. If you think your child may be struggling with high levels of stress due to violent events on the news or other causes, it’s important to see out a professional for further guidance.
Trails Carolina can help!
Trails Carolina is a wilderness therapy program for struggling youth, ages 10-17. Our students commonly deal with issues such as depression, anxiety, ADHD, stress in teens, and other behavioral challenges.
For more information about how Trails Carolina treats stress in teens, please call 800-975-7303 today!
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