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How to Help Your Anxious Teen

First off, I want to say, Thank you for trusting me with your teenagers. I love them. Ya'all have amazing humans you've been raising!⁠⠀
I've noticed a couple of things:⁠⠀
They're in a hurry to feel better, fast.⁠⠀
A common theme that keeps coming up is to slow down.⁠⠀
It's okay to slow down. ⁠⠀
Because we need to pay attention to ourselves.⁠⠀
We need to understand why we don’t feel good.⁠⠀
That's where I come in with the coaching. I help people slow down. ⁠⠀
I help them pause, notice what they're thinking and I hold the space for them to stay with the unrest inside of them long enough to process it. ⁠⠀
Why we in such a hurry all the damn time? (scuze my french si vous plait). ⁠⠀
The goal isn’t to feel better fast. The goal is to feel now. Even when it's inconvenient. ⁠⠀
Especially when it's inconvenient. ⁠⠀
Or else we get all anxious and stuff. ⁠⠀
We ultimately end up feeling better by allowing all our feelings.⁠⠀
The positive and the negative.⁠⠀


Teens face A LOT these days. It’s no surprise to me that they’re struggling.


Anxiety is on the rise for a number of reasons; there’s not just one root cause to it. But here are some of the reasons I see: family problems, overuse of social media, pressure to be perfect, sleep deprivation, nutritional issues, decrease in face-to-face communication, body-image fixation, and information inundation of the troubled world we live in we are constantly hearing about on the news, to name a few.


There isn’t a silver bullet cure for Anxiety. It’s part of the human condition. But even so, we can support our teens and young adults in ways that can help them navigate all that they are facing.



  • Talk about Anxiety as a normal part of the human experience.


We don’t want to trivialize anxiety, but it’s important to show your teen that nothing has gone wrong when they’re feeling it. Experiencing stress and worry happens to everyone, so it’s important we experiment with our own ways to feel better. This might include talking it through with an adult, or journaling about it, or learning anxiety-specific breathing techniques (not to be underestimated!) Help teens understand that their uncomfortable emotions aren’t anything to resist or react to or avoid, but should be allowed and that we shouldn’t be ashamed of them.


  • Make space in your schedule to listen to your teen.


If you sense that your young adult is more quiet or irritable than normal, or just having a hard time emotionally, take them to a quaint restaurant or on a simple hike, then close your mouth, open your ears, and listen, listen, listen. My teenage boys especially respond to this kind of one-on-one time where they talk things out and articulate their feelings. The combination of a milkshake and genuine eye-contact can work wonders.


Sometimes these discussions can get uncomfortable when I hear about their problems and I want to jump in and solve them for them. Resist going into fix-it mode. Just be a sounding board. When our teens sense that we care about them by just listening, that in and of itself can help calm them down.


You’ll want to have some open-ended questions readily available to get the conversation started, but once they start talking, just hearing them in a non-judgemental way can be incredibly calming and soothing.


And one more thing: my husband and I put a big, cozy chair in our bedroom, along with a soft blanket and ottoman, for the sole purpose of creating space for our children to tell us about their day, at the end of the day. Don’t ever be too tired for this amazing opportunity that can unfold if you create the space.


  • Monitor social media and talk about the news


To me, these two go hand-in-hand since most teens are hearing the news on social media versus credible sources. Parents need to be awake and in tune with how social media exacerbates anxiety. It is important to know the sites your teens are on, monitor their posts and profiles, and regulate the amount of time they are allowed to participate.


I cannot emphasize this one enough. I’ve coached too many parents who are ‘afraid’ to set boundaries in this arena. That makes no sense to me. It is your job to set limits and to enforce them in a democratic way. If you have no idea what this looks like, get coached on it, because there are real dangers here.


Besides pornography and internet bullying, teens are losing a lot of sleep over screen time! In our house, we have a rule that phones, computers, and all tech devices are turned in by 9pm. We also have a rule that they aren’t allowed in bedrooms.


Our teens have pushed back on these rules at times when they argue for more time to get their homework done, but we don’t do it since as parents, we want them to learn how to plan to get their homework done in the screen time frame that’s allotted to them. As we’ve been firm on this rule, the kids have learned to finish their homework by 9pm.


Consider what guidelines are right for your teens and your parenting style, to help make sure social media isn’t dominating your teen’s entire brain engagement and taking over.


  • Get professional help


Sometimes we need more support with anxiety than the standard coping skills. If anxiety is interfering with your teen’s ability to function at school academically, contact a therapist and schedule an evaluation. Your teen may have a serious condition that is beyond the scope of coaching, such as full blown anxiety, or other mental disorders. A trained professional can help with medication and treatment if necessary.


These suggestions are for the mainstream teen or young adult who is otherwise functioning normally, but experiencing the occasional overwhelm of life due to facing typical challenges. But even so, they are powerful coping technics that will help your teens process anxiety in healthy ways.


I’ve lived with anxiety for as long as I can remember. It’s okay. Nothing has gone wrong with having it. We just need the tools 🛠 to manage it. ⠀


By coping with anxiety and allowing it, you begin to understand yourself and your humanness. Message me if your teen wants help. Or if you want help with your teen. I've got you covered.⠀
I love the teens. And I love the young adults. And I love all their parents. I'm here for ya'all. ⁠⠀


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