Anxiety is a common mental health issue that affects people of all ages, including teenagers and preteens. Feelings of worry, nervousness, or unease characterize it. Various factors, including academic pressure, social
media, family conflicts, and hormonal changes, can cause anxiety in teenagers.
Anxiety in teens can also manifest in different ways, such as excessive worrying, irritability, sleep disturbances, physical symptoms (headaches, stomachaches, muscle tension, etc.), and avoidance behavior (skipping school, avoiding social situations, etc.). Teenagers with anxiety may also have difficulty concentrating, experience panic attacks, and have low self-esteem.
Parents and caregivers need to recognize these symptoms and seek professional help if necessary. With proper treatment and support, teens with anxiety can learn to manage their symptoms
and lead fulfilling lives. Here are some tips on how to help preteens and teenagers manage their feelings of anxiety:
Encourage Open Communication
Encourage your child to express their feelings and thoughts about their anxiety. Create a safe and supportive environment where they can talk about their worries without fear of judgment or criticism. Listen attentively, validate their emotions, and offer empathy and reassurance. Most importantly, let them know their feelings are valid, and you are there to support them. Encourage them to express themselves openly and help them find ways to cope with their worries.
Acknowledge Your Child's Feelings
Acknowledge your child's feelings and avoid dismissing or minimizing their anxieties. Let them know that it's okay to feel anxious and that you're there to support them. Validate their experiences and show understanding by saying things like, "I can see how that would make you feel anxious." Validating your child's emotions can help them feel heard and understood, which can, in turn, reduce their anxiety.
This can also help your child develop emotional intelligence and resilience, which are essential skills for navigating life's challenges. Acknowledging your child's feelings can also strengthen your relationship with your child and build trust between you both. What's more, modeling healthy ways of managing anxiety can also benefit the whole family.
Let Them Know That It's Okay to be Brave
Encourage your child to engage in brave behavior, which means facing their fears and anxieties gradually. Start by setting small goals and rewarding progress. Praise your child's efforts and successes, no matter how small. Encourage them to use coping strategies like deep breathing, relaxation techniques, and positive self-talk to manage their anxious feelings.
This will help them build resilience and confidence in themselves. It is also important to model these coping strategies yourself as a way to provide a safe and supportive environment for your child to express their emotions.
Encourage Them to Set a Healthy Routine and Stick to It
Establish a predictable routine that provides structure and stability for your child. This routine can include a regular sleep schedule, meals, and exercise. Having a routine can help reduce stress and anxiety in teenagers and even lead to a greater sense of accomplishment and self-esteem.
A routine can also improve their overall productivity and time management skills, which can be beneficial for their academic and personal life.
Encourage Physical Activity
Encourage your child to engage in physical activities like sports and yoga. Exercise can help reduce stress and anxiety in teenagers by releasing endorphins, which are natural mood boosters.
Physical activity can also improve their overall health and well-being by strengthening their muscles and bones, improving their cardiovascular system, and maintaining a healthy weight.
In addition to improving sleep quality and physical health, this leads to a better quality of life for your child. In fact, encouraging your child to be active can set them up for a lifetime of good habits and better health outcomes.
Promote Good Sleep Habits
Ensure that your child gets enough sleep by promoting good sleep habits. This can include avoiding caffeine and electronic devices before bedtime and creating a quiet and dark sleeping environment. You can also encourage your child to wind down before bed with calming activities such as reading or taking a warm bath.
Establishing a consistent bedtime routine and encouraging physical activity during the day can also help improve your child's sleep quality and duration. Overall, prioritizing your child's sleep can be crucial to their overall health and well-being.
If lifestyle interventions are insufficient, let your child know there is no shame in seeking professional help. You could start with specialized programs such as art therapy or equine therapy, which can provide alternative ways for teenagers to express themselves and work through their emotions. These programs can be particularly helpful for teens who may struggle with traditional talk therapy.
Anxiety in teens is unfortunately quite common and can significantly impact their daily lives. As a parent, it's essential to understand anxiety in teenagers and how to help them manage it. If you're concerned about your child's anxiety, don't hesitate to seek professional help from a trained therapist or mental health provider.
John Maret Counseling offers various services for preteens and teens struggling with anxiety. This includes online mental health therapy that is conducted in a safe and confidential environment and is designed to help young people develop coping strategies, build resilience, and improve their overall well-being. Additionally, the counselors at John Maret Counseling offer personalized treatment plans tailored to meet each client's unique needs.
John Maret Counseling also provides support for parents and caregivers to help them better understand and assist their children in managing their anxiety. This may also include family counseling which helps parents understand their own behaviors and how they affect the family dynamic.
Group therapy sessions are also available and allow teens to connect with others who share similar experiences or interests, such as social anxiety groups for teenagers who feel like they don't fit in.