Teach Teens Positive Coping Skills
In defense of teens, their dearth of planning skills lies largely in the fact that the prefrontal cortex, the CEO of the brain, responsible for judgment, decision-making, critical thinking and, yes, planning, is not fully developed until age 25(!). This helps explains their need for guidance in these areas.
However, despite the best-laid plans, life presents stresses that we cannot foresee, or prevent. To survive these, teens as well as adults, need to have positive coping mechanisms in place. Yes, more life skills! Sadly, we all know adults who’ve missed this vital lesson. These mechanisms are both behaviors and attitudes that allow for resiliency in the face of adversity. We can encourage teens to choose from a wide range of activities such as playing an instrument, journal writing, art, dance, shooting hoops, going for a run, or perhaps going to a special place—physically or mentally—that helps them escape or temporarily distance themselves while they cope with the stress. This can help them emerge from a tough situation having made lemonade from life’s lemons.
The sooner teens discover what works best for them, the better off they will be, not only during these tumultuous years, but throughout life. Stress can significantly compromise our ability to concentrate, make sound decisions (even after age 25), work, sleep, eat healthfully, and even fight infections. When parents are supportive and offer guidance in time management, encourage their teens to take responsibility for themselves and to develop positive coping strategies, they go a long way in strengthening them for what lies ahead.