*The following is excerpted from an online article posted on WebMD.
Parents say their teenage daughters have higher levels of stress than their teen sons, citing causes such as college prep tests and poor body image, a WebMD survey shows.
While we all feel some tension at times, more than half of parents (54%) rate their teens' stress at moderate to high levels, according to the survey of 579 parents of kids 13 to 17 years old.
And nearly one-third of parents (28%) say their teen is sad or depressed, with the level higher in girls (32%) than boys (24%).
”Stress is inevitable,” says Kenneth Ginsburg, MD, MSEd, a professor of pediatrics at The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia. But “the choices (teens) make to react to stress will determine their health and well-being for a lifetime.”
Girls were more likely than boys to tell their parents they were stressed (58% vs 45%) and parents were more likely to say their daughters had symptoms that could indicate stress.
It’s unclear why parents report higher levels of stress in girls, says WebMD medical editor Hansa Bhargava, MD.
“It could be that girls are more likely to show outward signs or to express that they’re stressed. Boys may also be more likely to internalize their stress and not express it. The key for parents is to keep communication lines open and talk to their teens often, regardless of whether they’re boys or girls.”
“I am so happy that parents recognize that there is stress in their kids’ lives, but it’s very important that they understand how stress might appear. It’s not just what they say. It’s also those kids who might act out really irritably or those kids who might have rage,” said Ginsburg.
Parents who reported moderate to high levels of stress in their teens cited homework (68%) and conflicts with parents (36%) as the top two causes of stress for both genders. But parents of teen girls were also more likely to report higher levels for causes of stress in their daughters in five areas. They were:
- Friends (38% vs. 20% for boys)
- Getting into a good college or deciding the future after high school (33% vs. 20%)
- Poor body image (32% vs. 19%)
- Dating or relationships (27% vs. 17%)
- Standardized tests/college entrance tests (24% vs. 17%)
"It seems that teen girls continue to be stressed about body image while also dealing with the other pressures of homework and friends,” Bhargava says. “We need to continue to help them better define themselves by who they are, not what they look like.”