How can we relieve our daughter (19) of her stress?

Father: “My 19-year-old daughter has chronic stress complaints. She suffers from trembling hands, nail biting, teeth grinding, she always feels tension in her body. She says she constantly feels like she has to do something. Her studies are going well, she has many friends, a boyfriend. Her complaints have worsened since corona, perhaps because the possibilities to discharge have disappeared – none of the things she likes can continue. My ex-wife and I feel that we have always supported her for who she is, not hounded or criticized, but we do set the bar high for ourselves. She thinks we are critical, she says. We try to persuade her to exercise, because that helps us to discharge, but so far without success. How can we help her relax a little more?”

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Immerse yourself in her dreams and ambitions

Susan Bögels: “The increase in stress is a social phenomenon that particularly affects this generation of young people and young adults. Factors such as the acceleration of our lives through technology and social media, the lack of permanent jobs and affordable housing, the climate crisis, emphasis on values ​​such as autonomy, success and appearance, rather than relationships and community, and now the pandemic are contributing to this. Bee. On top of what we pass on to our children as parents, through education, our genes and as role models.

“Instead of coming up with solutions that work for you, say, ‘I’m worried about you because you have so much to do with yourself. And sometimes I wonder what my and our contribution has been.’ Immerse yourself in her dreams and ambitions, her doubts and insecurities.

“Let them know that you are always there for her, even when things are not going well. That unconditional attention and love, the attention to the process regardless of the result, gives us the feeling that we don’t ‘need’ anything to be accepted. That we are already good and whole as we are. And if you have that conversation during a long walk in the woods or along the sea, you also enjoy the relaxing effects of exercising in nature!”

Talk to her about what’s bothering her

Liesbeth Groenhuijsen: “Sometimes something just doesn’t have to be solved. After all, part of the problem is that she already has so much to do. Social contacts, a relationship, a study – all those developmental tasks seem to go very well. It is possible that it is a child who is sensitive to tensions and they are present in forests at this age.

“Don’t suggest anything to her that didn’t work in the past. Your answer is ‘exercise’ because it works for you. By recommending that to her, you’re really saying, “My own fault, if I were you I would have solved it long ago.” And she already experiences you as critical!

“It’s better to talk to her about what’s bothering her. Strengthen her in her own problem-solving capacity. But also tell her that she can leave it alone for a while, because she already has enough on her mind.

Do you recognize yourself in this way of dealing with stress? Tell her that, “It’s hard, but it’s okay to live with.” This can give a child who is sensitive to stress hope, wisdom and peace.

“Children should be allowed to feel their own stress and learn to solve it. Sometimes it’s enough to ‘be there’ as parents, with an understanding look and her favorite dish.”