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Navigating Adolescent Anxiety: Strategies for Parents

Signs of Teen Depression, How parents can help adolescents struggling with anxiety, Adolescent Anxiety, Parenting Anxious Kids, Managing Parent-Teen Anxiety,

Strategies for Parents: Navigating Adolescent Anxiety

There is absolutely no doubt that the world is challenging and full of reasons to be anxious. That’s true for adults as much as it is for teens. As a parent, you may see your child struggling with constant anxiety and stress over day-to-day life and want to help them. You may know,  from your own experience, that all will be okay. But for your teen, a positive outcome might seem impossible.

Adolescent anxiety is very common, but that doesn’t mean it’s something to ignore. By providing your teen with the best strategies to manage their anxiety now, you’ll prepare them to handle much bigger stresses later in life, perhaps when you cannot be there to help them.

Listen to Your Child Without Judging Them

The first, and often the hardest, step is to listen to your child’s anxious feelings. Refrain from passing judgment on their fears or dismissing them as “no big deal.” Also resist interrupting them in order to offer a quick solution. Instead, try the following:

  • Ask your child what is occurring and why.
  • Listen rather than talk. Allow them to express themselves fully.
  • Maintain eye contact and be supportive.
  • Ask questions, such as “What have you tried so far?”
  • Don’t reassure them too quickly, e.g. “Don’t worry, it will be okay…” That may make them feel as if their feelings are being dismissed.

By creating a positive framework with active listening, you create an opportunity for your child to openly express themselves. In doing so, they’re likely to come to their own realizations about what is occurring, why, and what to do about it. This is one way to help your child build strong mental health skills that they’ll need later in life.

Create a Safe Place at Home

When your child comes home after dealing with peer pressure at school, countless demands from teachers, and lots of pressure at their after-school activities, they need a safe place. That doesn’t mean you need to protect them in a bubble, but you do need to give them a space where there’s less stress and more support when they need it.

  • Ensure they know they are safe at home
  • Don’t require them to tell you every detail of their day – giving them some space (and grace) allows their brains to properly process their experiences
  • Keep the lines of communication open by having time to listen 

Ensure they know they can open up to you and get the support they need, but that you trust them to make the right decisions for their future.

Create a Healthy Lifestyle Foundation for Them

As your child moves through their day, they are likely going to need all of the nutrients and rest they can get. By creating a strong foundation of a healthy lifestyle with good habits, you give their brain time to rest, navigate the stressors, and make better decisions.

Think about the way you feel and the decisions you make when you’re tired. The same applies to your child, who is also using a lot of energy just for their body to grow. Help your child stay healthy by: 

  • Ensuring they sleep on a routine basis (getting at least 8 hours of sleep at night)
  • Limiting screen time and encouraging them to go outside or talk with friends or family members in person 
  • Improving the nutritional density of what they eat, giving their brain the support it needs to function

You’ll also want to help your child learn how to manage their time. Consider asking questions as your teen begins to take on more and more responsibilities:

  • How will you schedule your time?
  • Have you thought about how this new task will impact your other responsibilities?
  • How will you make time to care for yourself every day?

Know When to Get Your Child Into Treatment

Sometimes a teen cannot manage their anxiety on their own, or even with a parent’s help. At Willow Creek, we understand how teens can be affected by anxiety, and we treat anxiety disorder in adolescents to help teens develop stronger, healthier ways of interacting with the world around them. Contact Willow Creek Behavioral Health today to discuss your teen’s needs. 

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