Adolescence can be a challenging time for every family, but sometimes the pressures from school, peers, and family dynamics begin to take a significant toll. Anxiety does not always progress to the level of being an anxiety disorder or a situation that needs professional help, but parents certainly want to recognize the signs of distress in their teens and help them to work through their issues. It can be challenging to find the right balance here, but experts have plenty of tips to help make it easier.
Recognize the signs of anxiety in adolescents
Anxiety can take a serious toll on adolescents, as they are often facing stress at school, in peer relationships, and oftentimes at home or at a workplace as well. Some of the signs of issues, notes the Women’s and Children’s Health Network, include trouble related to concentrating, feeling hopeful, or sleeping, and sometimes physical signs appear as well. When teens are having stomach issues and headaches, or generally feeling sick when stress is present, it may be time to take a step back and work on some coping strategies.
Teens will frequently turn to negative self-talk as anxiety escalates, so parents should focus on helping them turn this around to focus on positive self-talk. Relaxation techniques, such as visualization, focused breathing, or deep breathing, can be quite helpful and Adolescent Wellness suggests trying some guided imagery exercises. For example, an anxious teen can work to imaging a relaxing scene and then try to add details covering all of the senses. The teen would then pick a phrase or word that will help them recall that scene, and after some practice, using that word or phrase can help calm them down during times of stress.
Work on connecting with your child and listen to their concerns
Kids Health notes that when an adolescent is struggling with anxiety it is important to focus on getting exercise, quality sleep, and proper nutrition. Teens may lose sight of these basics, so this is where parents can have a significant impact. Of course, it can be challenging to do this in a way that seems supportive rather than overbearing. Making an effort to connect with your anxious adolescent is important during these difficult times, even though they may be inclined to withdraw and isolate themselves when their stress levels are high.
As Help Guide points out, when it comes to stress, anxiety, or depression in teens, it’s important not to ignore the issues. Begin a dialogue with your adolescent and be open to listening to what they have to say without judgment or being dismissive. Be careful not to come off as patronizing and acknowledge their feelings as you work on truly listening. Teens may resist opening up about these issues, but parents need to trust their instincts and be gently persistent in trying to connect during difficult times.
Professional help may become the best approach
Parents should not be afraid to connect with a therapist if their child is continuing to struggle. Anxiety can have a serious impact on an adolescent’s daily life and the family’s dynamics, and when this is the case, a professional can help shift things back on track again. If you aren’t sure if it’s time for a professional’s insight, connect with a therapist and get the ball rolling, as they will get the basics on the situation and share their insight regarding what should happen next.
Teen anxiety can become quite overwhelming and many adolescents have a difficult time working through their stress on their own. Whether the issues are related to family, friends, or academics, parents can try to connect with their child to open up a dialogue and help them learn some relaxation techniques that can alleviate some of the anxiety. Sometimes consulting a professional is useful as well and while it can take some serious work to help a teen work through their anxiety issues, some simple coping strategies can have a significant impact and ease the stress on everybody involved.
Special Thanks to Guest Contributor: Noah Smith
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