Tips for Parents Helping Teens Cope With Anxiety

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More often than not, adolescence causes many physical, social, and emotional changes. Much of this is due to the rapid development teenagers go through. Combine the significant changes in their brains and bodies with social pressure along with schoolwork and potential family issues, and you have a formula for a potentially anxious teen. 

While it’s normal for teenagers to experience anxiety on some level, when it becomes a problem or conflicts with their ability to live a full and youthful life – as a parent, there are things you can do to help. Therefore, read further to learn about some ways you can help teenagers cope with anxiety.

Causes of Teenage Anxiety

There are a dizzying array of reasons teens might experience anxiety.  From peer pressure to getting good grades at school – teens are prone to stress.  This is especially true these days, with the prevalence of online social groups, which can put unique strains on teens.  Balancing social lives, schoolwork, family ties, and perhaps even working a job can all add up to emotional disharmony in your teen.

Excessive anxiety in teens could be a sign of other underlying issues. Sometimes it’s just that they’ve been worrying too much about certain things, so steps should be taken to identify anxiety triggers and address them. However, when it comes to anxiety, many adults find themselves clueless. How do you teach someone what they might not even understand? It’s hard, but here are some ideas on how to help your teenager manage their anxious feelings better.

Consider Group Support

Sometimes teens need to talk to people their own age outside their daily social group and the family unit.  That’s where peer group therapy can work wonders in reducing teenage anxiety. Group therapy substitutes negative peer pressure with positive peer support. In other words, instead of being influenced by teens who encourage self-destructive behavior, people in group therapy sessions are surrounded by others of the same age who share similar fears, anxieties, as well as hopes, and dreams. 

Group therapy offers many benefits through the recovery process, such as offering a safe, supportive system where teens can speak freely without fear of judgment.  Peer groups can also help teens gain more confidence and assurance and also make them feel more comfortable with difficult issues going on in their lives.

Promote a Healthy Diet and Lifestyle

There is a strong link between physical and mental health, and teenagers are especially at risk if they don’t prioritize sleep, exercise, or good nutrition. That’s why it’s important to make positive lifestyle choices to help manage your anxiety. It’s important that your teen maintain a healthy diet and stay hydrated. It also helps to limit a teen’s intake of processed sugar, alcohol, and other substances. 

Parents can also help their teens with anxiety by eating dinner together. This will help their mood improve over time as it builds a sense of belonging, safety, and community.  Parents should also encourage their teens to make healthier eating selections, such as choosing fruits, vegetables, and healthy fats over fast foods, sugar, and processed foods.

Talk Openly With Your Anxious Teen

Encourage your child to talk about the things that make them anxious. Talking about their anxieties will actually reduce the amount of anxiety they’re experiencing. When you listen and talk with your child, you’ll better understand what’s going on for them and have a better chance at managing their anxieties or finding solutions to problems.

Accentuate the Positives

When your child is anxious or stressed, it’s important to let them know that you’re confident in their abilities. For example, your child might be concerned about their appearance, performance, or abilities. Let them know you understand how they feel, but also let them know that the most important thing is to do their best and not get upset. When they trust that they have the resources to excel or do their best, it will help them use self-compassion in challenging situations.

Encourage Physical Activity

It’s no secret that exercise is key to keeping teens healthy and happy.  In fact, evidence suggests that exercise can help reduce anxiety symptoms in teenagers. Adolescents should aim to have one hour of physical activity daily to maintain a healthy body and an even healthier mind. It’s also important for teens to find what sports are their passions, so they can enjoy the benefits of building relationships within a team setting.

Reduce Screen Time

Setting limits on screen time can reduce anxiety. If your teenager is checking the news and social media feeds every few minutes, that might be making their anxiety worse. Consider limiting your teen’s screen usage to no more than 30 minutes per day. As a family, you can do this together by understanding how much you each use screens and setting limits together. You can also help provide an alternative, such as reading a book, going to the museum, or planning healthy meals for the week.

Replace Potential Anxiety-Causing Activities with Positive Ones

There’s a lot of criticism about video games, but they offer teens with anxiety an escape from the real world. As a parent, it’s okay to indulge your teenager in digital escapes within reason. However, also encourage other hobbies and activities as well, such as exercise, reading, engaging in creative projects, journaling, or taking music lessons – just to name a few examples of replacement activities.  Equally important is the need for teens to have access to supportive influences by organizing face-to-face gatherings in the community, in the family, or with uplifting groups instead of virtual socializing (texting or IMing).

Introduce Your Teen to Relaxation Techniques

Research has shown deep breathing can help teens decrease stress and improve their emotional state. You can practice deep breathing with your teen and help them learn the practice of mindful relaxation.  Encourage them to feel their breath, inhale deeply, count to three, and then slowly exhale. By prompting your teen to close their eyes and consciously experience their breath, bodies, and emotions – they should begin to feel relief from pressure and anxiety.   Conscious breathing is a way to help your teen come into the present moment and become more aware of what they are feeling.

Teaching your child how to meditate or sharing different meditation techniques can also be a game changer in helping your teen reduce stress.  Additionally, consider yoga as another relaxation technique that can be significantly effective in reducing anxiety.

In conclusion, anxiety in teens is not uncommon, but it can be a challenge if it threatens your teen’s well-being.  We hope these parental tips for helping teens cope with anxiety prove insightful and useful.

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