Coming to Terms With Adolescent Anxiety By: Daniel Sherwin

Hi all, I am excited to include another guest blog post on the Wholeness Simplified Blog. This week's blog post addresses teens and anxiety, a situation that I often work with in my Danville therapy practice. This week's post is by Daniel Sherwin.

Daniel is a single dad raising two children. At DadSolo.com, he aims to provide other single dads with information and resources to help them better equip themselves on the journey that is parenthood.

Coming to Terms With Adolescent Anxiety 

Teens who are often gripped by episodes of anxiety have a physiological tendency to be unusually anxious. Your mission as the parent of the afflicted teen is to help them come to terms with their anxiety and learn how to manage it. Your teen may be anxious at times, so they must learn how to tolerate and cope when these instances occur. In time, these occurrences may fade or disappear altogether as your kid gradually walks into adulthood. Regardless, giving them a solid foundation on how to navigate anxiety will help them as they weather the trials and tribulations of life.

Here are four tips on how to come to terms with adolescent anxiety, for kids and parents alike:

Have Realistic Expectations

As a parent, you can’t assuage your child’s fears by telling them their nightmare scenario won’t take place. But you can support them by regularly expressing confidence in your kid. What they need you to do is set firm intentions that they will be okay, that they will be able to conquer their stress. As they grow older, they will gain more experience in facing their fears and coping with their anxiety, and this can lead to a decline in episodes and possibly an end of all anxiety attacks in the future.

Do Not Have Your Teen Run Away from Anxiety-Fueling Situations

Aiding any teen to skirt much-feared events is a Band-Aid solution to a wound that needs stitches. To lessen the tendency for anxiety in your teen, have them face their fears. Doing so will allow them to experience the release of tension and distress when the event has passed.

Be sure to respect your teen’s limits, but take care to encourage them to face their fears directly so long as they are in a controlled, safe environment.

Avoid Asking Anxiety-Feeding Questions

Asking questions directly about a teen’s anxious feelings of, say, an exam or prom will only amplify their anxiety. Opt instead to invite them to open up about the situation. Ask ,“How are you feeling about the test?” instead of “Are you anxious about your test?”

Anxiety as a Part of Life

Anxiety may be with your child off and on for the rest of their life, so encourage them to develop tolerance for their anxious tendencies. Keep acknowledging how difficult it is to be an anxious teen, while congratulating them on their efforts to come to terms with the problem.

One thing that has proven to be beneficial is to pair up your child with a therapy companion dog, particularly if your child suffers from severe anxiety. A canine who loves to be affectionate will simply absorb the negative energy of the anxiety afflicting your child and supplant this with love and support.  

Indeed, even when your teen is all grown up, and you, the parent, aren’t around to help them come to terms with an episode, a therapy dog is a good idea. There 24/7, a service dog will soothe and comfort your child, as well as instill a sense of purpose and responsibility. This last point is especially important, as anxiety is directly related to excessive self-absorption.

A Final Thought

Give your child the resources they need to manage their anxiety. Encourage your teen to participate in activities that are grounding and healthful such as playing sports or yoga, as these may assist them as they learn new coping mechanisms. Anxiety is a tough condition to overcome, but together, both parent and child can move mountains.

*If you've liked what you read and want to learn more, check out Daniel's website Dadsolo.com

photo cred: pixabay