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Teens and stress

Updated on December 4, 2009

Louisiana teen jumps from overpass

 In these times of economic stress, fighting and arguing between parents is common. Keeping the bills paid and keeping our heads above water is about all we can do. I just spent two days without power because I couldn't meet the payment due date. I was angry and the blame was passed back and forth between me and my partner. I was angry that I was stuck at home with no lights, heat or any other thing requiring electricity and he was off to work in a nice condo with all the amenities. The words flew back and forth.

Our 8 year old stood there watching... not knowing which side to take. In all reality he should not have have to take any side since he is still just a child. "Would you two stop it he screamed, I'm tired of all of this."  We both looked at him in shock. We had not even noticed he was there. nothing else was said. I slept on the couch and his father in the bedroom. Since I am usually the first one up, our son never noticed. I got him dressed and sent him to school. End of story?? Not exactly.

The phone rang at about 2:00 and the nurse at school informed me that my son was in the clinic with chest pains. I walked the six blocks in the cold to bring him home. His chest pain stopped as soon as he was home. I still took him to the doctor just to be sure. He had suffered an anxiety attack due to the fact I had threatened to leave the night before. The doctor explained to me that his sudden recovery was due to the fact that he was worried I would not be there when he got home. Once I went to get him and he knew I was there he was fine.

Many of us do not realize that the stress we have as adults and the ensusuing arguments affect our children also. Often irritable and not knowing what to do we are short tempered with our children also over things that are really of no consequence. Or are they???

Lyndsay Harris, 13,  died after jumping from an overpass in Louisiana into the traffic below. She had had an argument with her mother a few hours earlier. She had asked two passerby's to borrow their cellphones then jumped when they offered them. She was hit by an oncoming vehicle below and killed. No one knows why she wanted the cell phone.

Parents often do not recognize the signs of stress in their children. They are so involved in their own problems that the stress imposed on the child is not that apparent. But as indicated by the example above the stress of family problems coupled with the stress already posed by school and fitting in can have tragic results.

Watch your children for signs of stress. It may include the following:

1. Changes in mood or attitude

2. Isolation or wanting to be left alone

3. Aggressiveness or outbursts

4. Not interacting with friends or others

5. Physical symptoms developing suddenly

If you notice these or any other out of the ordinary behaviors , talk to your child to see if you can determine what is bothering him. If he does not respond to you and the behavior continues, consult your local mental health center.

Stress in children and adolecents is serious. Keep discussions between you and your partner private. Do not threaten to leave, especially in front of your child, they take it personally. You are leaving them.

if it reaches the point where one of you have to leave, discuss this with your child and make sure your child understands that you are not leaving him, only the relationship.

Find counseling for your child.


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