How to help your 'crazy-stressed' teen

Parents, you’ve “been ambushed!”  That’s according to Michael Bradley, Ph.D., bestselling author of Yes, Your Teen Is Crazy. In the 15 years since that classic was published, the world has become increasingly more complex and so has parenting.

And that’s what compelled Bradley to write his latest book, Crazy-Stressed: Saving Today’s Overwhelmed Teens with Love, Laughter, and the Science of Resilience.  It also helps to rescue crazed parents. 

In the last decade parents have been swept up in a “perfect storm,” leaving them and their kids in its aftermath, according to Bradley. 

“Your teen years were nothing like your teen’s. Mood swings, impulsiveness, poor judgement, and other problems peak in these years. Add stressors such as screen addiction, cyberbullying, increasing academic demands, and time-consuming athletic commitments and it’s no surprise today’s teenagers rank as the most anxious in 50 years,” he said.

Parenting times are tough, too. But when it comes to their children, parents are tougher.  They’re fighting back to readjust and regain solid footing to help their kids meet these challenges head-on.  Crazy Stressed can help them do just that.

First and most important, Bradley emphatically states, “All parents need parent education.”  It’s a concept that many reject, but in today’s world, “Parenting without education is like trying to fly a complex jet.”  You could try, but you’re likely to crash.

Second, fully understand the powerful and dangerous impact of electronics. Bradley is by no means a scaremonger, so when he sounds the alarm, parents should listen up!

He states, “Parents were taken by surprise when it came to video games, computers, and smartphones. This proved to be a huge mistake.”  Now that we know their astounding influence, it’s time for parents to, “take back control.”   

“Giving kids electronic devices without strict supervision is like, “giving nuclear weapons to a terrorist.”  Pretty strong words, but something Bradley strongly believes.     

Violent video games, the constant bombardment of messages that drug usage is OK and perverse sexual behaviors are acceptable, desensitize kids. While teenagers may look and try to act grown-up, they are not. Just the opposite. Their teenage brains are in the process of being rewired, and they are incapable of rationally comprehending and managing the onslaught of media and the stress it creates. 

Bradley strongly suggests, “holding off on giving your kid a smartphone.”  He believes the emotional damage caused by too much exposure to social media, far outweighs any positive effects. 

He goes on to add that, “While you can’t bubble wrap your kid, you can closely monitor electronic usage.”  He is a firm believer in “open spying.” Telling your child outright, that you will be checking their phones and computers. That as their parent you, “have a great interest in keeping them alive and safe,” and that means reading their texts and checking out their apps and software.

Bradley states as parents, “You have the power.” Use it wisely and be “proactive.” Make sure screen time is closely monitored and limited, and that at least one night a week is an all- family “electronics free night.”

“It’s not easy being a teen, and it’s certainly not easy parenting one.” Bradley’s new go-to guide is mixed with science, case studies, and humor and gives parents an invaluable education in surviving and even enjoying the journey.