Your child is behaving strangely since they got to adolescence? He or she looks nervous, stressed, and is withdrawn more often. They’re often restless, moody, and angry for no tangible reason. You don’t know what is eating them up and feel helpless in the wake of this strange behavior. Your teenager is probably suffering from anxiety, which is common with adolescents.
What causes anxiety in teens?
While it is still a matter of debate on what causes Teen Mental Health and Anxiety, here are some plausible causes;
- Hormone fluctuations
- Peer pressure
- Being judged by parents and teachers
- Identity crisis
- Lack of empathy
- Drug and substance abuse.
The second segment of this article shows how you can help your teenagers as a parent.
How parents can help teens deal with anxiety
Teens need close emotional relationships
To start with, teenagers need to feel emotionally attached to someone throughout their adolescence. Such strong emotional attachment begins with the mother-child relationship at infancy. Strong emotional bonds give the kid a feeling of worth and love. The neural network of the growing brain is developed through these ongoing foundational relationships. It is, therefore, essential to maintain these relationships with parents and other caring grown-ups throughout adolescence. Teens feel adequate and resourceful, which helps combat anxiety.
Do not make teens feel pressured
Secondly, teens hate feeling pressured. Today’s world is full of disguised messages on accomplishments and perfectionism, which exacerbates anxiety in teenagers. Make them feel they are up to the task. You should not tell your teen that they can do better because it raises a question what better is enough.
When encouraging them, don’t use phrases that may raise a negative “but.” Go for a more positive mode of address. When they are on the wrong such as when they break things accidentally. Say something like, “We learn through making mistakes.” “I still love you even if you attain low grades at school.” These statements show them things couldn’t have gotten any worse, and you value them, which is an antidote for stress and depression in teens.
Support them without judging them
Thirdly, teens hate it when parents and teachers judge them based on their performance, personality, and even looks. It shows that you as a parent are displeased in who they are and therefore less deserving of your love. Attempt to understand them instead of showing disapproval. Teenagers learn to accept themselves through understanding who they are. Knowing that parents and teachers understand them reduces stress and anxiety in teens.
Normalize their fears about identity
It is quite common for teenagers to undergo an identity crisis. They undergo many physical and mental changes, which can ignite anxiety since they worry about their identities and place in society. Teens worry about their lives and futures, which is very normal. So, how do you normalize these fears? Talk with them about their worries. Let them open up to you about them. Share your concerns too. Such conversations build resilience in your teen as opposed to anxiety.
Teens seek their lives meaning and purpose
Children’s metacognitive abilities soar with age. Adolescence gives them an ability to ponder on their own thinking. Their views about the world start to change.
Here is what you should do as a parent. Invite teens to reflect on their thoughts and emotions. This shows that you value their experiences. Let them watch movies read books, and listen to life stories. It gives them a chance to see the world in a new and different way. Discussing and sharing life stories with them reduces anxiety and triggers self-awareness.
Empathize with them
Finally, parents should give the teens a sense of being heard, seen, and understood. Empathy raises positivity, which effectively kills anxiety since they will no longer worry about perfectionism or fitting in. Hold deeper conversations with your teenage son or daughter about their experiences. Ask questions about their experiences and listen till you understand. Basically, do not look down on them and listen more than you talk. Show that you understand.
You have learned that teenagers need close emotional attachment, empathy, and non-judgemental support. You should normalize their fears about their tomorrow while helping them to find meaning and purpose in their lives.