Helping Teens Cope With Stress

Helping Teens Cope with Stress

By Matt Brown, member of SimplyFun's Play Advisory Council

Does she like me? Will I get into college? Why is he picking on me? I struck out to end the game. That teacher hates me. I don’t understand this math.Why do I even have to learn this math? There are stepparents, stepsiblings, and new babies in both of my parent's houses. My Dad got divorced again?! Why didn’t I get invited to the party everyone else did?

I have these and so many more memories of my teen years which were awkward, stressful, and anxious. Yet, I didn’t have social media, the Great Recession, 9-11, Covid, AI, climate change, and so much more that has added to the complexity and speed of change in today’s world.

Helping Teens Cope With Stress

As teenagers navigate this time of their lives, it’s more important than ever to find ways to manage stress and anxiety. While many will tune into video games or other screen activities to unwind, there is a big world of analog gameplay that can help young people manage stress, build resilience and just escape from it all for a while.

Connecting with Teens through Games

Whether it’s a rough day or a long-term stressful situation, playing strategy or puzzle games can provide an escape from it all and a chance to recharge your emotional batteries. Kilter is one of my favorites. I played it a lot with my daughter when she was a teenager. When we played Kilter, as is the case with so many games, we stopped thinking about nearly everything else because we were focused on strategizing, adapting, and problem-solving, trying to get those slippery blocks placed just right. I especially love the physicality of Kilter, which adds layers of interactivity, fun tension, and laughter when they go tumbling across the table.

Helping Teens Cope With Stress

Many teens specifically experience social isolation or anxiety. Multiplayer games, such as many classic card games, can provide safe social time with a few friends and/or family members where they can improve social skills like communication, sportsmanship, and conflict resolution. Also, being with others they enjoy helps counteract the isolation the teen may be experiencing in other settings.

Physical Play to Help Teens Manage Stress

Physical play is also a great way to address stress and anxiety. This can be going for a walk or run, shooting hoops by yourself, or playing sports, playing a round of charades, just to name a few. Whatever the teenager does, physical activity releases endorphins that can help boost their mood and reduce feelings of stress and anxiety. Moreover, participating in social physical activities (like sports and charades) can provide a sense of accomplishment, as well as increase social support and a sense of belonging.

Helping Teens Cope With Stress
I know there are a lot of reasons a teen may be stressed or anxious. Helping your adolescent can be complicated and involve many different emotional management skills, techniques, and support. For sure, playing games they enjoy can be helpful for dealing with stress and improving their overall well-being. Games can provide a temporary escape from stressors, teach important coping skills, provide social support, and improve physical and cognitive health. All of which are beneficial reasons to find a few board games to play together to strengthen your connection and help your teen manage their stress.

Author- Matt Brown

For over 20 years, Matt Brown has been leading high-performing teams to develop vibrant business cultures, invent and launch high-impact branded platforms, and turn around underperforming brands and businesses. Matt consults with Fortune 500 and early stage companies, usually working with the C-suite. He also co-founded a couple of companies including big BOING, an integrated strategy, innovation and development company that partnered with Kraft, Disney, Coca Cola, Nickelodeon, Hasbro, Learning Curve and others to invent, design and launch (or completely overhaul) major domestic and international brands.

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