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How to help teens cope with change

mother and daughter taking a selfie on a smart phone

The teenage years are full of ups and downs. High school, first loves, and getting ready for college can lead to a lot of big emotions. These highs and lows can mean changes for teens and their parents.

Some teens easily cope with these changes. Others have high levels of stress and anxiety. Young people who are stressed may begin to develop mental health disorders like anxiety or depression. Here is our advice for helping your teen cope with the changes that are coming.

Stay connected with peers or mentors

As a parent, it is important to have open and honest conversations with your teen. Your goal should be to create an emotionally healthy and safe space so your teen can and wants to confide in you. Sometimes, in confiding in parents isn’t enough for teens. Encourage your teen to also reach out to their peers or mentors who are positive influences. If your child seems to be spending a lot of time alone, encourage them to reach out. This can mean connecting with friends on social media or calling to talk.

Follow a routine

A routine can help your teen feel a sense of control in their lives. It is easy for adults to forget that teens have a lot of responsibilities. Classes, homework, and social pressure can make sleep schedules irregular. Keeping a regular schedule throughout the week may help your teen feel better.1

Express themselves

Create an open and safe space for your teen to express themselves. Self-expression can help relieve stress. Everyone’s self-expression looks different. Maybe your child is an artist who likes to draw or paint. Maybe they’re a musician, and they like to practice their instrument. Maybe they write or dance or go for runs. Validate and encourage your child’s creative outlets.

Express their feelings

It’s also important to encourage teens to express their thoughts and emotions. Feeling heard can help teens better cope with the stressors of daily life.2 Make sure you really hear them when they do it. Acknowledge their feelings and let them know that feelings of anxiety or worry are normal.

Practice self-care

Teens need to maintain physically and mentally healthy habits. Encourage things like:

  • Eating heathy food.
  • Engaging in physical activity and exercise.
  • Accepting circumstances that cannot be changed.
  • Learning positive coping behaviors.
  • Shifting negative self-statements to encouraging statements.
    • For example, try changing “This is a terrible time” to “I’m having a hard time right now, but I can get through this.”

Reach out for help

Change can be difficult. It’s OK if you don’t have all the answers for your teen—or for yourself. Rely on resources provided by your doctor, therapist, or health insurance plan to help guide you. Reaching out to our health coaching program is a good place to start!


1Sleep in middle and high school students. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Updated February 5, 2018. Accessed May 12, 2020.

2Child development, teenagers (15-17 years). The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Updated March 6, 2020. Accessed May 12, 2020.