The teenage years can be challenging. Stuck between childhood and adulthood, many teens can feel stuck with no clear focus of who they are or who they could be.
The teen years are full of hope, disappointment, stress, and drama. It’s a rollercoaster of emotions sprinkled throughout a bumpy and shaky ride. As adults, it’s common to forget about your time as a teenager, though you do remember the big things. What’s hard to remember, especially, is the struggle with anxiety.
Anxiety is a normal part of life, but for teenagers, it is especially tricky to navigate. With changing hormones and friendships, academics, and discovering crushes, it’s not uncommon for the teen years to be filled with anxiety. Here are 5 ways to help your teen navigate anxiety.
How to Help Your Teen With Their Anxiety
1. Be a role model.
Your teen is watching you closely, whether you realize it or not. Sure, they might be aloof and distant at times, but they see how you handle stress and anxiety in your life. They pick up on more than you realize, and they can model their own life after yours.
If you are struggling with anxiety or feel stressed, don’t be afraid to open up about them. Show them it’s okay to be vulnerable and talk about their feelings. They’ll likely be more open to expressing what they are going through if they see you extending that same courtesy to them.
2. Don’t minimize their experience.
Adults can be unintentionally condescending when they talk to teenagers. When you are experiencing so much stress as an adult, it is common to look at what your teenager is going through and think or say, “So what? It can’t be that bad.” What this does is minimize what they are going through.
Just because you don’t understand it doesn’t make it any less real. If they are feeling anxious about something, don’t make them feel as if they are being silly or blowing things out of proportion. Instead, listen to them without judging. This will help them feel seen and heard by you. In their teenage mind, that can go a long way.
3. Listen and reassure them.
In addition to not judging your teenager, you should reassure them. Don’t fuel their anxiety by asking them a lot of questions. “Why do you think that? Are you sure that will happen? Maybe you are reading too much into it.”
Instead, reassure them that you know how the foundation of anxiety comes from a place of fear and a lack of control over certain situations. You might not be able to fully understand where their mood is coming from, and you may want to ask questions. But let them do that on their own when they are ready. Be a helpful and listening ear and only interject with advice when you feel it is appropriate. Sometimes, teenagers don’t need life lessons and just want someone to listen.
4. Encourage them to practice healthy habits.
Healthy habits, no matter a person’s age, can go a long way. The teenage years are the perfect time to begin implementing this. They have a higher autonomy now and have the power to make choices on their own. Encourage them to make healthy choices.
Urge them to exercise daily, eat nutritious foods, and practice mindfulness and self-care techniques. Giving the mind and body the necessary fuel can help keep anxiety at bay.
5. Suggest therapy.
This is for you and them. Going to therapy does not mean either of you are broken. It just means that someone needs extra support through a challenging period of their lives. Don’t hesitate to reach out to us to learn more about teen anxiety therapy.