Tackling Teen Anxiety: Lending Support And Assistance To Your Struggling Adolescent
This is a guest post on teen anxiety and is a topic near and dear to my heart. I hope you enjoy it and find it helpful in supporting the adolescents in your life.
Teens face a lot of challenges these days. Pressure with academics, peer pressure from classmates or moving and starting a new school can all cause quite a bit of stress. While many adolescents can typically roll with the ups and downs that they experience, it is not uncommon for anxiety disorders to develop. How can parents recognize the signs of anxiety issues and how can they help?
Parents Should Watch For Signs of Distress
Parents often notice significant changes in their kids when they hit the teenage years, but there are some common signs of anxiety that signal a need to do some investigating. The Raising Children Network points out that usually, anxiety lasts for only a short while, oftentimes less than a day. When feelings of anxiety last for weeks or longer and become quite intense, interfering with an adolescent’s daily activities, things may have escalated to a level where an intervention of some sort is necessary.
Adolescents facing anxiety disorders may seem restless, self-conscious, sensitive, and withdrawn and they may become obsessive over worrying about things that might happen. They may start to procrastinate on tasks and demonstrate signs of being distracted by a lack of concentration. In addition, physically they may experience issues with sleeping, stomach aches or digestive issues, headaches, sweating, or feel their heart racing.
Make An Effort To Support and Connect With Your Struggling Teen
If you notice that your teen is experiencing anxiety that doesn’t fade away fairly quickly, you can try to connect with them. The Child Mind Institute suggests that the first step is to simply be present for your child and be empathetic to their issues. Parents need to walk a fine line when trying to connect with their adolescent on these types of issues because it is easy to come across as nagging or critical rather than supportive. Be ready to listen without judging or being dismissive and be sure to watch for positives from your teen and point those out.
Many anxious teens can benefit from learning some relaxation techniques or other strategies that can lessen their stress. The No Bullying site suggests teaching your adolescent to focus on their breathing when they feel anxious, encouraging them to breathe deeply, hold their breath for a few seconds, then exhale slowly. Repeating and practicing this can help them handle stress when it flares.
Another useful relaxation technique is progressive muscle relaxation, where you tense muscle groups for a few seconds and then relax them, working your way throughout the body. Guided imagery, where a teen focuses on a relaxing scene far away and recalls that scene when things get difficult, is another helpful relaxation technique and there are a variety of additional options that can provide anxious teens with much-needed support.
Don’t Dismiss The Need For Professional For Help
Addiction.com suggests reaching out for professional help when a teen is having a hard time with daily routines, where grades may drop, hygiene may change, or moods may become extreme. Certainly, if an adolescent is considering harming himself or making threats toward others, outside help is necessary. In addition, if things progress to a point where as a parent you aren’t sure how to help, a professional’s assistance can be quite useful.
Adolescent anxiety can be an overwhelming battle, but families should not give up hope that things can be turned around. Parents should work on connecting with their teen and helping them learn helpful relaxation techniques, and they shouldn’t shy away from reaching out for professional help when anxiety is impacting a teen’s day-to-day routine to a significant extent. Anxiety disorders can take a significant toll on a family, but help is available and progress can be made to help a teen feel confident and comfortable again.
[Image by Pixabay]
Author: Noah Smith