This is a guest post from Noah Smith at wellnessvoyager.com
Teens today have quite a bit to worry about, between pressures at school to perform well and fit in, the stress of figuring out higher learning and what comes next, and all the worries that come with social media. It can be difficult to know how to help when your teen begins to exhibit signs of anxiety–which can manifest into physical symptoms–but because anxiety can lead to depression and other mood disorders, it’s important to know what those warning signs are, how to help your child cope, and how to learn ways to prevent those feelings from coming back in the future.
Keeping the conversation open with your teen is a great start. That’s not always as easily done as one might hope, but showing your child that you understand what they’re going through–or are trying to–is an important part of helping her sort out her feelings, and it will help her learn to trust you.
Here are some of the best ways to help your teen with anxiety.
One of the best ways to help your child is to get involved with her life. While some teens may see this as a parent being overbearing, ultimately they will understand deep down that you’re doing it because you care. Find out who her friends are, learn their parents’ names, ask who she’ll be hanging out with when she leaves the house. Follow her social media accounts and stay informed about which ones she has and who she interacts with on them. While it is best in the long run to try and find a good balance–you don’t want to keep her under your thumb, but just be informed–talk to her at the same time and let her know she has your support. For some young people, the feeling that they aren’t doing a good enough job at school or aren’t living up to your expectations can be daunting.
Hire a tutor
If your teen is having trouble with test-taking or her grades have slipped in a particular class, consider hiring a tutor. Having a teacher who is just a few years older than she is can help her see the tutor as a peer, rather than as a dictator. Tutors can help boost self-confidence and can help your child find new ways to learn, and they can also give great tips on preparing for tests, something many students have trouble with. Because there are several options where tutoring is concerned–having your teen attend a learning institution rather than having a private tutor come to your home, and how to finance that, for instance–it’s important to do some research and figure out what the best option is for you and your child. Check out how to get started here.
Help her cope
It’s sometimes the hardest part of learning to deal with anxiety; finding ways to cope with it in a tough situation. It’s important for your teen to have this skill, however, especially as she gets older and moves on toward college-age. Do some research on the different ways anxiety can manifest and help your child figure out the best ways to deal with those feelings that make sense for her. This can be anything from learning meditation and mindfulness to doing deep breathing exercises that will allow her to calm down in the moment.
Get her moving
Daily exercise can help immensely with anxiety and stress, so help your teen find ways to get active and moving that are also fun (to increase the odds that she’ll stick with it). Swimming and yoga are two of the best ways to get started, as they’re relaxing but include ways to learn mindfulness. This is just a fancy word for focusing on the present rather than worrying about the past or present.
Sort out the root of the problem
Talk to your teen about what makes her anxious; it could be that one issue at school is creating all the problems. If there is bullying, identity issues, or questions about sexuality at work, consider seeking a counselor or therapist to help your teen get to a good place.
Remember that anxiety is not a logical disorder; it is fueled by emotion, which most teens have in abundance. Try to stay patient with your child and work together to find a solution.