How to Help Your Teenage Child Cope With Anxiety

To start off, anxiety is a very complex issue, especially for a teenager, giving their emotional sensitivity and the changes they go through. Everything they feel has a lot of power for them, because it’s a lot to take in all of a sudden. Anxiety can usually translate to feelings of fear, butterflies, pressure, nervousness, agitation, rush of adrenaline and a general rage of different powerful emotions. What happens to teenagers is they go through a lot of changes, such as hormonal, appearance related, more responsibilities. It’s a sensitive issue and if it’s not treated seriously and with care it can trigger disorders.

Understanding teenage anxiety

The first thing you need to know is the fact that you have to understand where all of this is coming from. Living with anxiety is very hard and challenging as it is, let alone during the complicate period of teenage years.

First off it has nothing to do with strength of character or personality traits. All of these can coexist at the same time. For example, courageousness implies fear, otherwise, there is no need for it. It involves overcoming fears, not feeding them and it also involves anxiety. It is very common, everybody experiences it at some point in their life and sometimes it has no apparent reason. It is not something that defines your personality, it’s a feeling, an emotion that comes and goes and it’s triggered by something specific. Anxiety appears as a form of coping mechanism, as a protection “layer” created by your own brain.

Signs that tell you your teenage child has a form of anxiety

There are a lot of behaviors and symptoms that are obvious and come from strong feelings of anxiety. The following list will help you keep track of them:

  • Your teenager is afraid, overwhelmed, worried and cannot control it.
  • Panic may occur, as if something bad is going to happen any time.
  • Rush of adrenaline, tense muscles, “butterflies”, racing heartbeat, shivers, dizziness, anger, nausea, or the feeling you have to cry.
  • The teenager has unusual behaviors such as nail biting, pulling out hair, skin picking or avoids activities or people that are supposed to be fun. He/she can also have compulsive habits and rituals that don’t make sense in order to cope with the anxiety (locking the door repeatedly, doing a gesture or vocalizing something a certain number of times etc.)
  • Stomach aches are the most common symptom.
  • Trouble sleeping

Tips and tricks for a supportive parent

Feeding teenagers’ anxiety is not an option, so fighting with them won’t do it. You should pay attention to their feelings, understand them and try to keep as calm as you can even when they push your limits and you can’t take it anymore. Get them help if they need it, take them to a psychologist or find the best holistic mental health solutions. Praise their small victories and avoid punishments. Also, it’s very important to be flexible even when it comes to routines (for example if they need some extra time finishing their business in the bathroom or getting dressed; school life is hard).