As a parent, we can probably all name our kid’s most common unhealthy behaviors right off the top of our head. From procrastinating to spending too much time on a screen, it’s a common parenting problem. But what if you knew that some of your child’s unhealthy behaviors stemmed from stress? Might this change the way you approach replacing the behavior with healthier options?
In this article, we will look at a few common unhealthy behaviors that are really related to stress.
Overeating, Undereating or Making Poor Food Choices
When kids are stressed and feel out of control of their lives, many turn to food. For some kids “stress eating” is commonplace. Eating too much or unhealthy foods is a way they comfort themselves. Even when there are healthier options it can be a struggle.
For other kids, food can become something they have control over. This can, unfortunately, lead to eating disorders. Too many young people find that they can control their food and consequently, their weight. This can lead to troubling behavior.
Another unhealthy behavior that can be related to stress is a lack of exercising. Maybe your once active child has become more of a couch potato. Perhaps your teen is spending significantly more time being solitary than ever before. This can be a sign of stress.
Any expert on stress and how to manage it will tell you that exercise is key to managing stress. The problem is, when you feel stressed, exercise might be the furthest thing from your mind. This is very true of kids and teens. A marked decline in physical activity may be a clear cut sign that your child is stressed out.
Too Much Screen Time
Most parents have the same daily struggle with too much screen time. While this might initially just feel like a sign of the times it can be a sign of something more. What studies have shown is that too much screen time, specifically social media, has become a way that both teens and adults avoid their stress. Going online allows you to filter out the stress of the day and not have to think about your stress.
The problem is, what is on their screen might be causing them even more stress.
Does your teen have a nasty habit of pushing things off until the last minute? If so this could be a sign that they are burnt out. This is especially true if your child is characteristically on top of things and this seems to be something new.
If you find yourself asking them why they waited until the last minute when they are usually good about getting things done this points to burnout. As kids become more and more stressed, many turn to procrastination as a coping mechanism. If they put it off, they think it won’t cause them stress. Unfortunately, this is probably having the opposite effect.
Poor Hygiene Habits
Another sign of stress in teens in poor hygiene or self-care. Maybe they aren’t taking good care of their hair or skin. Perhaps they are dressing in clothes that seem like something you might not want to wear out of the house.
When a teen lets their self-care routine go it can be another sign pointing to stress. If school, sports, activities, family, social media and everything else in their life are stressing them out, that extra time for hygiene might fall short.
A Final Word on Unhealthy Teen Behaviors and Stress
If your child or teen is exhibiting some of these unhealthy behaviors, it’s possible they are occurring as a side-effect of stress. As stress mounts in their lives, they are impacted the same way we are as adults.
The best way to help your child turn around their unhealthy behaviors is to help them start managing their stress more effectively.