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Darby Bonomi: Too Much Teenage Stress

Darby Bonomi: Too Much Teenage Stress

Reposted from Darby Bonomi PhD.. Darby Bonomi is a practicing psychologist and consultant that works with people of all ages to achieve lasting change and establish foundations for mental wellness. Darby combines her life-long experience in the equestrian world with her vast toolbox of psychological and coaching interventions. Riders of all levels and their families reclaim joy in the sport, leading the way to improved performance and better health.

You might not know that I work with a lot of adolescents. I love teenagers—they tell it like it is, have great senses of humor, and they’re generally very open to new ideas. But, I have to tell you, if these young people are representative, today’s teens are way too stressed out. Sure, my clients—mostly athletes—are high achievers and extremely hard workers. They have lofty goals and strategies to get there. They run hard and push past their comfort zone. And, they are carrying too much on their shoulders.

Even in my small sample, I see teens with unrealistic expectations of themselves, anxiety, and disrupted sleep. Even if they get to sleep, none of the teens I know gets a full 7-8 hours a night. They have a lot of worries about all kinds of things—worries that affect their performance, but also their psychological and physical health.

I think we adults are failing them. It’s our job as adults to provide perspective—and to set an example. Having perspective means knowing what the big picture is about—keeping an eye on what is most important even while you’re focusing on details. We need to give kids tools and guidance to thrive in life, not just skills to ace the next entrance exam. Most importantly, we need to model a long term view of health, happiness, and what it means to be a good human being—which is what really matters, at the end of the day.

  • Relationships are key to a good life; remember that none of us is an island.

  • All tasks are not created equal—it’s vital to be able to prioritize.

  • Rest and recuperation are essential parts of the performance cycle.

  • Always keep the long term perspective in mind.

Believe me, from a personal point of view, I understand the issues. I have 2 teens at home and one in college, each with different gifts and challenges. We live in the world where the focus is on winning. The winner is the one with highest grades, perfect SAT scores, the most extracurricular activities and is champion or MVP every week.

It’s not easy to swim upstream, but our teens need us to take a stand for them. Instead of riding along with the more-is-better-playlist, we adults must offer perspective, model healthy behavior, and support our teens in making good choices. Most of all, we need to be fully present for them every day as they make their own way in this 24/7 world that we live in.

I would love to hear your thoughts.

All the best,


Interested in working with Darby Bonomi, PhD? Contact her today to get a quote for her Sports Psychology Services.