According to the US National Institute of Mental Health, one in three people aged between 13 and 18 have an anxiety disorder.1 There are ways that parents can help their teenagers with their anxiety problems.
Recognizing anxiety in teenagers
Anxiety is a normal sensation that everybody experiences from time to time. It is a reaction to a stressor, such as upcoming exams or going on a first date. It only becomes a problem when people feel anxious a lot of the time, or the anxiety is not entirely rational.
Children who feel anxious can display many different symptoms. The same symptoms can be caused by other factors, so parents need to talk to their children to find out what issues they feel they have.
Some of the physical symptoms of anxiety may include:
- fretful behavior
- problems sleeping
- shaking or tremors
There can also be emotional signs that your child may be struggling. These can include tantrums, and feelings of helplessness or loss of control. Socially, your child may start shunning friends and become more introverted. The child may feign illness to avoid going to school or other activities.
Teaching your child how to cope with anxiety
Without oversimplifying the disorder, anxiety can be described as a negative mental approach to issues. The best way parents can help is to teach their children to develop positive mental attitudes.
Understand that your child can face real problems. You cannot always make a problem go away, but you can teach your child coping strategies. These can include physical exercise, and relaxation techniques like yoga and breathing exercises.
Create a relaxed and structured atmosphere at home. When problems arise, let your child see how you deal with them calmly and rationally.
Help your child to build self-confidence by giving positive feedback and setting realistic goals. Teach your child that he or she cannot please everybody all the time. Explain that what other people, especially peers, think about your child is not as important as they might think.
Discussing anxiety problems with your child’s school
Based on the statistic mentioned previously, many of your child’s fellow classmates will also experience episodes of anxiety. It is worth talking to school officials to find out if the school undertakes efforts to address the problem.
Studies in the US and UK show that tailored cognitive behavioral therapy can be effective in reducing anxiety.2 If your child’s school does not have such a program in place, you may be able to get them to consider it.