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The Best Tips for Parenting Your Anxious Teen

Posted by Noah Smith on

Everyone goes through anxious times in life and teens are no exception. If your teen is struggling with anxiety you may feel helpless. Fortunately there are things you can do to get your child through stressful times.

Anxious Teenager

Proactive Pointers for Parents.

Anxiety is a normal part of growing up, but it’s worrisome to see your child stressed. Time recently delved into teen anxiety and offered these important suggestions of how to help your troubled teen:

  • Keep it real. When you are talking with your teen, don’t limit discussions to schedules, school work, and goals. Ask what the best part of the day was and what your teen’s concerns are.
  • Respect space but stay aware. On the journey in becoming an adult, teens need their own space. But stay alert to any changes that may indicate unhealthy stress. Watch eating and sleeping habits, or changes in social behavior. If your teen is withdrawn or losing interest in what used to be favorite activities you could be seeing warning signs. Voice your concerns, but don’t be judgemental.
  • Don’t get mad. If you find out that your kid has been doing something you don’t like, maintain your self-control. Your child may cut classes or be involved in other unhealthy behaviors. Instead of getting angry, talk with your teen and acknowledge that something is wrong. Ask if there is some way you can help.
  • Get help. If you are worried, don’t wait to reach out for help. Discuss your concerns with a doctor, therapist or counselor. Get help before trouble becomes deeply rooted.
  • Have the whole family involved. It’s possible the family may need to find a healthier behavior pattern. Stay open minded and have counseling together if necessary.

Tips for Teens.

You may be surprised at how some teens responded when asked what stresses them. According to one study, their number one worry is school work.
Your teen may need some advice for how to handle anxiety. Here are some great ideas from TeenVogue:

  • Talk therapy. Suggest that your teen talk through problems with a nonjudgmental, third party. This could be another adult such as a counselor or a teacher.
  • Don’t avoid problems. Let your child know that taking time off “sick” or otherwise avoiding an issue can put off and complicate troubles.
  • Get some exercise. Spending time doing yoga, shooting hoops or doing deep breathing exercises lowers stress and can give a better perspective.
  • Positive mindset. Focusing on the fact that troubles are temporary can help your teen cope.

New kid in a new neighborhood.

Kids who are entering a new school can have an especially difficult time with anxiety. Experts at Psychology Today have some suggestions for helping your child cope:

  • Get the school schedule ahead of time to feel better prepared.
  • Schedule a tour of the school and be sure to find your kid’s classrooms.
  • Take advantage if there is an orientation program.
  • Encourage your teen to get involved in extracurricular activities he or she finds interesting.

Watch for Warnings.

According to some studies, one child in eight suffers from an anxiety disorder. However only about 20% of those kids get treatment. Without help, kids don’t perform as well in school, don’t do as well socially, and are more likely to abuse substances. Being fearful, shy, or nervous means your child could be struggling.

Be on the Lookout.

In some instances it is as simple as your teen telling you that they feel anxious and upset, but there are some signs both you and your teen can be on the lookout for too:

  • Watch for physical signs. When we are anxious, we often have that feeling of butterflies in our stomach, but sometimes the physical symptoms are far more extreme. Nausea, trembling, hot flashes, difficulty catching your breath, and frequent bathroom trips are all physical manifestations of anxiety.
  • Nighttime isn’t off-limits. While sleep is often an escape from the stresses of the day, sometimes even that doesn’t offer reprieve. Anxiety can make it feel as though your brain is going a million miles a minute, and you may have trouble shutting it off at night to get some shut eye. Once you do fall asleep, anxiety can still rear its ugly head in the form of night grinding -- your body’s way of trying to relieve stress.

Getting through it together.

Adolescence can be a tough time. It’s a worrisome time for parents, but by being proactive you can help your child with stress. You can also give your teen tips for coping. Even if your child is the new kid in school there are several ways you can ease the transition. Through it all, watch for warning signs that professional help is needed. Whether dealing with a passing phase or with an anxiety disorder, you and your teen can get through it together.  

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