When your child was a baby, you were waiting for the day when they would be able to tell you exactly what they wanted or needed. You figured when they grew up and were able to speak, it would be easier than the guessing game you play with babies and toddlers. But your child is officially a teenager, and you feel like you somehow understand them even less than when they were small. You’ve noticed your child is struggling more than normal, but you’re not sure what happened. And let’s be honest; they’re not really at that stage in their life where talking to their parents is “cool.”
The teenage years are no joke. Do you remember how difficult they were for you? You have to juggle school, extracurricular activities, a social life, as well as hormonal and physical changes. It can be a lot for any one person to deal with. Consider this your very own parent’s guide to teen anxiety disorders. We’re here to help.
What is Anxiety?
First things first, what exactly is anxiety? Anxiety is a completely normal human emotion. To be honest, you’ve probably experienced it yourself before. Anxiety is the feeling of fear or dread in certain situations. For example, you may have experienced anxiety before presenting in front of the class, taking a test, or interviewing for a job. If anxiety starts to impact your daily life and routine, it may be a sign of a larger anxiety disorder.
Signs and Symptoms of Anxiety
If you’re unsure if your child is experiencing anxiety, don’t worry. Here are some of the most common signs and symptoms associated with anxiety:
- Avoiding certain places, people, or activities
- Decrease in grades
- Digestive issues
- Excessive worrying
- Fear of making mistakes
- Feeling burned out
- Increased heart rate
- Not managing time well, especially on homework or projects
- Shortness of breath
- Sleeping problems
- Tight chest
- Trouble concentrating
- Withdrawing or self-isolating
How to Help Your Teen
As a parent, you want what’s best for your child. So, you’re probably wondering what you can do to help them during this time in their life. Here are a few tips and tricks to help your child if they’re struggling with anxiety.
During the teen years, it can feel like your child wants absolutely nothing to do with you, but that doesn’t mean they’re not watching you or craving your love and approval. Check-in with them. Let them know you’re proud of them and are there for them if they ever want help with school work or support in other areas. Just being there for your child may be exactly what they need to know they’re supported and cared for.
Implement Healthy Coping Mechanisms
Talk to your teenager about healthy ways to cope with stress. Here are a few examples of healthy coping techniques that you can encourage them to try or incorporate with them:
- Deep breathing
- Go on a walk
- Listen to music
- Read a book
- Start a journal
- Talk with a family member or friend
Encourage Them to Go to Therapy
If you’re starting to see that anxiety is having a larger effect on your child’s life, it may be time to bring in extra help. Encourage them to go to therapy to talk about their thoughts and feelings.
If you or your child are interested in therapy for anxiety, don’t hesitate to reach out. A therapist will be able to work with your child or both of you to get to the root cause of their anxiety and help recommend coping techniques moving forward.