Parents believe teenagers are the most difficult to raise at the age of 15 – due to pressure at school and their hormones.
A study of 1,000 parents of teenagers found 75 per cent think the ages of 13-19 are the most challenging years of raising children, with 32 per cent admitting they were ‘unprepared’.
Coping with their mood swings is the most stressful thing about parenting a teenager (35 per cent), followed by helping them to make important life choices (32 per cent) and allowing them to make their own mistakes (31 per cent).
But nearly three in 10 found it difficult to help them through the anxiety of exams, with 29 per cent ‘shocked’ at the impact GCSEs and A-Levels had on their child’s stress levels.
Worryingly, 66 per cent of parents believe their child reached a point where they felt unable to cope with school, exams or the pressure on their education.
And 47 per cent think it affected their teen’s mental health, while 44 per cent believe it hit their confidence.
Stress also led to those teens who were feeling the pressure becoming more argumentative (37 per cent) or angry (36 per cent), while 32 per cent lost sleep.
A spokesperson for herbal remedies firm A.Vogel, which commissioned the study, said: “A lot is said about the stress of raising a newborn baby, but for many, the teenage years can be difficult and bring unexpected challenges.
“Parents have to try and guide their child through a stressful time of exams and learning to deal with new hormones, when their teen is also trying to learn who they are and wants more independence.”
The study also found 77 per cent of parents claim their teenager has had periods where they have felt stressed, with 82 per cent of those saying these worries were around their exams or education.
Getting good grades is the top school worry, according to 45 per cent of parents, along with remembering everything they revise (37 per cent), and what happens if they fail (36 per cent).
Other stress triggers around their education include the impact of the pandemic and home-schooling on their grades (31 per cent) and living up to their parents’ and teachers’ expectations (25 per cent).
Pressure on teenagers
As a result, 27 per cent think exams are too stressful for teenagers and 32 per cent believe there is too much pressure placed on a child’s education.
It also emerged 29 per cent of those polled via OnePoll felt powerless to help their child with exam stress, with simply talking to them the most common way parents tried to alleviate the anxiety.
A third tried to give them space, 30 per cent tried to make sure other areas of their lives were calm and organised and 27 per cent ensured they had a healthy diet.
But 27 per cent of parents believe they felt more stressed about their child’s exams than their teen, with one in five (20 per cent) going as far as to say they felt unable to cope.
While 25 per cent of parents claim their youngster’s exam anxiety affected the whole family.
Professor Margareta James, psychologist and founding director of The Harley Street Wellbeing Clinic, said: “We have a child morphing into an adult.
"Their sleep patterns change which can cause chronic sleep deprivation that affects concentration levels and leads to poor attention span which inevitably reflects on their school and exam performance.
“Brain maturation also coincides with puberty and hormonal changes, so they lack control in the ‘executive action’ areas (setting priorities, planning, organising and controlling impulsive behaviour).
“This causes a lack of motivation, mood swings and conflicts with authority, as well as impacts on their decision-making, especially when it comes to risk-taking.
“Exam time adds an additional layer of stress, but emotions come and go, and we can all learn to be in control of how we feel.
“Herbal remedies containing Passiflora can promote relaxation during stressful or anxious situations including exams, but in the long term, parents and teenagers need to manage stress placed on the body through healthy eating, daily exercise, and good sleep habits as well as learning relaxation techniques such as regular meditation and havening.”
Top 20 most stressful things about parenting a teenager
1. Coping with their mood swings
2. Helping them to make important life choices, such as what GCSEs or A Levels to take
3. Allowing them to make their own mistakes
4. The fact they spend so much time on technology
5. Helping them to manage their emotions
6. Dealing with hormonal changes
7. Helping them through their exam stress
8. Trusting them to make their own decisions
9. Helping them to plan and make decisions about their future
10. Worrying about them doing well at their exams
11. Them wanting their independence/ more independence than you want to give them
12. Helping them to deal with their body image and feel confident
13. Communicating with them about sensitive, tricky or embarrassing subjects
14. Fears about the impact of social media on them
15. Worries that they are going to be bullied
16. Guiding them through high-pressured education
17. They are getting into boys/ girls – learning about relationships
18. Helping them to cope with a huge amount of schoolwork
19. They are learning who they are as a person
20. Worries that they will take drugs
Professor Margareta James’ tips for parents
Vital for you and your teen. It’s crucial for emotional wellbeing, mental alertness and consolidating learning. It is also critical when studying, as it aids memory and supports creativity when it comes to finding solutions to previously unsolved problems and supports the immune system.
Sleep also has a key role to play when it comes to mood and emotional regulation as it helps process emotional ups and downs (it’s a mental health aid too!).
The impact on academic performance is clear. It’s a lot harder to take tests and answer questions if you are sleep-deprived.
Teenagers should sleep 8-10 hours a day. A disciplined sleep time routine will help, do not lose sleep to study.
2. Control your devices
Make a time for sleeping and turn off the screens at least half an hour - start small! (Ideally up to 2 hours) before bedtime. Play with light, get outside in the morning to get some vitamin D in, and expose yourself to bright light, whilst dimming light towards bedtime will help with being able to fall asleep.
Turn off notifications on your phone - set a sleep and focus schedule. And have a separate study / sleep zone, with no electronic devices in the bedroom. Think of the ideal bedroom as a prehistoric cave - cool, dark, light-free. Leave electronics in another room, and even get rid of alarm clocks with digital displays inducing hyper-awareness of time.
Encourage or help them with planning a revision timetable and breakdown work into bitesize tasks and take regular breaks - focus for 20 minutes and take a break, move around.
4. Consider herbal supplements
Ones that support relaxation such as A.Vogel’s Passiflora Complex Spray (12yrs upwards) www.avogel.co.uk.
5. Diet and Exercise
Regular daily exercise - outdoors if possible - to increase Vit D and eat B vitamin and magnesium rich foods.
6. Emotional Support
As a parent, if you can, scale down your own work schedule to allow time to support your young people during the exams. Make sure you get enough sleep too - it will help you keep calmer and not react in challenging situations. Start the day bright with a positive pep talks in the morning, make a healthy snack / packed lunch, spare pencils / pens at the ready, favourite meals in the evening, be visible but invisible (make it known you’re there if needed)! Ask great questions about progress. Studying is all about progress.
7. Try not to compare
We all study in different ways stay focused on what you can do - it is all about incremental learning and change.
To find out more about how to support and manage stress go to https://www.avogel.co.uk/relax