Ways to Help Your Teens Cope with Anxiety
by Tyler Jacobson
Teens have a lot to deal with these days. They have to juggle school work, competitive sports, dating and pressure from their families and friends. It’s no wonder anxiety disorder is on the rise among teens.
Helping your teen cope with anxiety presents a dilemma. Should you step in and shield them from all anxiety-inducing circumstances? Should you release them from all obligations they find stressful? How will they learn to stand on their own if you do any of those things? Clearly, you can’t let your teen hide out in their room forever and they can’t quit school altogether. A balance has to be found.
Here are 5 suggestions on how to help your teen manage anxiety and cope with triggers:
1. Don’t shield them from life.
Shielding your teen and allowing them to avoid their anxiety triggers won’t do them any good. Instead of learning how to cope and overcome their fears, they’ll learn to find excuses to avoid them. The best strategy is to be supportive and help them come up with strategies to overcome their anxieties.
2. Don’t do everything for them.
In an effort to spare their teens from stress and anxiety, some parents end up doing everything for them. Some even complete their teens’ school assignments. Instead of helping their kids, these parents are only reinforcing their insecurities and inadvertently teaching their teens that they’re hopeless.
Choose a different path by encouraging your teen to slowly get out of their comfort zones and tackle tasks themselves.
3. Practice relaxation techniques.
Most people find that their muscles tense up when anxious. This physical response goes hand in hand with an emotional one. Relaxation techniques can help your teen cope with anxiety by mitigating both the physical and emotional responses to stress. Some of the helpful techniques they can learn include deep breathing and progressive muscle relaxation.
4. Help them find healthy ways to vent their anxiety.
Anxious teens can have a tendency of internalizing their anxious thoughts, making everything seem bigger and so much worse than it is. Finding healthy ways to vent out their anxiety can go a long way towards increasing their peace of mind. For instance, they can keep an anxiety journal or write their thoughts on pieces of paper then tear them up.
5. Encourage them to tackle their fears step by step.
Anxiety can make teens feel overwhelmed and overburdened and eventually even the simplest tasks become harder to accomplish. To counter this, teach your teen to make a plan, then come up with several incremental steps to achieve this. Their confidence and resilience will grow as they work through each small goal until they finally manage to tackle their fears.
Helping teens cope with anxiety calls for a lot of patience and understanding. However, with the right support, encouragement and professional help (if necessary), teens can get better.