What is teen Anxiety – Teen anxiety occurs when a teenagers feel unsure of themselves or the events that have taken place in their lives. Anxiety is an unsettled, restless state of mind. The teen experiences emotional distress (sometimes combined with overwhelming feelings of disappointment) on a day to day basis. Everything seems to be out of control.
Why teens experience anxiety? The teenage years are times of high stress, hard decisions and strong emotions. Teen anxiety can come about through many events in the teen’s life such as a broken relationship, a parental divorce or academic pressure in school. These issues are real and are very much a part of their lives. Teenagers are easily influenced by people and events around them. Moreover, they are living in a fast-paced, constantly changing world. Technology produces everything faster and better even before everyone has adapted to the old products. Everything – from cell phones to i-pods – conveys the message that everything has to be accomplished fast, practically without thought or meaning. As well, teens are heavily influenced by the media which promotes the idea of always being Number One. The images result in a lot of pressure on teens because these standards are unrealistic and are usually not attainable.
Parents can tell if their teen has anxiety if they show signs of…
· Inability to follow through with a usual routine whether it is school or work related
· Compulsive actions
· Repetitive behavior
· Agitated behavior
· Disturbed sleep patterns
What can parents do to prevent overwhelming anxiety in their teens?
A certain amount of teen anxiety is normal and it is possible for the average adolescent to cope with his or her anxiety. Parents play an important role in helping them do so. One task for parents is to identify when symptoms become unmanageable and to arrange for professional assessment and treatment if necessary. When a teen’s anxiety interferes with his or her ability to function well in school, at home or with peers, then a consultation with a mental health professional can prove invaluable. Similarly, when a teen shares that anxiety is making him think of dying, professional treatment is best.
The majority of teens are dealing with less intense types of anxiety. They’ll be able to get by with a little help from their friends and family. Parents can help with their teen’s anxiety by listening to them. Teens do not want to be lectured by their parents who criticize everything they do. Teens need someone who they can talk to and vent their frustrations to. Teens need to feel that they are not being judged and whatever they say will be accepted. They need to feel they can trust their parents and that they are loved and cared for. Sometimes parents can guide teens toward activities that provide stress relief such as sports, drama clubs, volunteer work, and even part-time jobs. Parents can also encourage downtime, family fun (board games, outings, hobbies) and even cooking!
A short vacation or even a few hours out of the house for some one-on-one quality time can often work wonders with an adolescent. Parents can even play some relaxing music in the house to help set a calm mood. Of course, reducing family stress (no yelling, fighting, marital battles, etc.) will also help reduce teen anxiety. If parents are experiencing stress of their own, they shouldn’t share it with their teens but rather with other supportive adults. Teens who effectively navigate the stresses of adolescence, on their own or with parental and/or professional support, are in a good position to handle the stresses and anxieties of adult life. It’s important for parents to refrain from rescuing their teen from every difficulty because this prevents the youngster from learning how to handle and overcome excessive stress. Providing guidance while trusting one’s child to be able to handle life is the healthiest approach for parents to take. The teen will be encouraged by the vote of confidence!
Be sure to check out Real Life Guidance Guide to Understanding Your Teen to grab some additional parenting help and help solve the mysteries in understanding your teen.