Anxiety is an emotion most people feel at some point in their life and teens are no exception. In fact, it is common for teens to feel anxiety, especially when they compare themselves to others on social media, feel the pressure of homework, school grades, friends, sports, and a variety of other stresses and pressures.
Too often parents feel helpless; they want to help their teen but don’t know how. Here are 5 tips that will help you help your teen work through their anxious feelings.
- Assist your teen with regulating the emotions in their body.
Intense emotions such as anxiety can trigger the fight or flight response and the emotional right brain takes over. Your teen cannot process logic or reason when in fight or flight. As a parent you can teach and practice deep breathing exercises with your teen. Headspace is a mindfulness and meditation app that can be downloaded to a phone. Create a list of coping skills with your teen such as going for a walk, listening to music, etc.
- Listen empathetically and normalize
Validating your teens emotion will help them to relax and calm down. Mirror neurons will help your teen feel secure and understood. You can use phrases like, “I hear you saying…” “I understand…” “I can see why you feel that way…” “You’re not alone…”
- Be the voice of reason and logic
After you have helped your teen calm their brain and body, you can begin to reason with them. The left, logical, side of the brain kicks back in once the body is regulated. You can then begin to problem solve with your teen.
- Set limits and boundaries on sources of anxiety.
Notice what may be triggering your teens anxiety. Is it school work? Notice if your child is trying to do too much between school, sports, and extracurricular. Are the expectations realistic? Friends? Is social media stressing out your teen? Help your child develop boundaries with social media by limiting usage times. Identifying triggers now, and helping your teen create boundaries will help them become healthy adults.
- Identify when your teen needs outside help.
Notice and observe your teen’s anxiety. Does your teen need help regulating their emotions? How fearful is your teen? Do they experience ruminating or excessive thoughts? Have you noticed ritualistic behavior? Are they self-harming in any way? Have you heard hopeless talk such as, “I wish I was never born?” If your teen has experienced any of these behaviors it is time to seek help.
I look forward to feedback. Please leave me a comment below or you can message me directly if you would like to set up an appointment.