Parents reveal the hardest age to raise their kids – and how their mood swings are the most stressful thing to handle

TEENAGERS at the age of 15 are the most difficult to raise according to their parents – as pressure at school and hormones make them moody.

Three quarters of mums and dads think the ages 13-19 are the most challenging years of raising kids, while 32 per cent admit they were ‘unprepared’ in a study of 1,000 parents.

Coping with their mood swings is the most stressful thing about parenting a teenager, followed by helping them to make important life choices and allowing them to make their own mistakes.

But nearly three in 10 parents find it difficult to help their teens 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 even claim their child reached a point where they felt unable to cope with school, exams or the pressure on their education.

Almost half think this school stress knocked their teen’s mental health, while 44 per cent believe it hit their confidence.

Most commonly, teens under pressure become more argumentative or angry, and one in three lose sleep when stressed.

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.”

More than three quarters of parents report their teenager has suffered through a period of stress, and a whopping 82 per cent of those say these worries were around their exams or education.

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Getting good grades is the top school worry, along with remembering everything they revise, and wondering what happens if they fail.

Other triggers of school stress include the impact of the pandemic on their grades and living up to their parents’ and teachers’ expectations.

As a result, nearly a third of parents believe there is too much pressure placed on a child’s education – but 29 per cent of parents felt powerless to help them through exams.

The top tactic parents tried to alleviate their teen’s anxiety was talking to them.

A third tried to give them space, 30 per cent tried to make sure other areas of their lives were calm and organised, while 27 per cent ensured they had a healthy diet.

However, almost three in ten parents confess they felt more stressed about their child’s exams than their teen, with one in five claiming they felt unable to cope.

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A quarter of parents think 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

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