The teen years can be a tumultuous and emotional time for everyone, and it is important that parents are able to provide the support that their kids need to understand their changing feelings and evolving senses of self. During this time, it’s normal for teens to begin to feel anxious about a variety of things, and this can take a toll on them if not handled properly. Fortunately, there are some great ways that you can start to help your teenagers face their fears, manage their anxiety, and grow into the best versions of themselves.
1. Identify Sources of Anxiety
The first thing that parents can do is identify the main sources of anxiety. These can be things going on at home or in school. For instance, 42% to 45% of all first marriages end in divorce, and if you and your spouse have gone through a divorce — or are currently — this can cause a lot of anxious feelings in your teenager. Similarly, if they experience bullying in school or feel that they are under a lot of pressure to do better, this can also cause feelings of anxiety.
Make time to speak with your teen and work together to pinpoint potential causes so that you can help them get through it.
2. Teach Healthy Coping
Anxiety can cause anyone — not just teens — to turn to potentially destructive methods of coping. Teens may be driven towards sneaking alcohol or trying to manage their feelings via marijuana or other substances. It’s important to catch any of these behaviors early so that they can be curbed. Underage drinking can also increase the risks of driving under the influence, as many teens won’t want to call a parent to pick them up if they end up drinking at a party. In some states such as Maryland, repeated DUI offenses can incur fines up to $3,000 and up to 18 months without a license.
Make sure to speak with your teen about the dangers of unhealthy coping mechanisms without judgment. Make sure that they know that they can always come to you and that you are willing to do anything that you can to help them. When your teenager knows that they are safe confiding in you, they will be more likely to trust you when it comes to talking about their feelings.
3. Look for Ways to Improve Self-Esteem
If your teen is experiencing anxiety based on low self-esteem or self-image, it may be worth working together to see if there are any ways to improve this. For instance, if your teen is afraid to smile due to misaligned teeth, investing in a treatment like Invisalign can help give them more confidence. In fact, 96% of Invisalign patients report that they were satisfied with the treatment and results.
You may also consider taking them on a shopping day where they can buy anything that they want to update their wardrobe, or book a spa day or a day at the salon. While these are seemingly little things, they can have huge lasting impacts when it comes to boosting your teenager’s self-esteem.
4. Parental and Professional Support
Lastly, you’re going to need to emphasize your support for your teenager. Let them know that you’re always there to talk and praise them when you can. For instance, if they do good on a test or play well in a sport. Even something as simple as making a point to compliment them on something daily can be a boost to their esteem.
Additionally, professional support is a great resource that you should consider, and being able to speak with someone outside of the family with no judgment can be a great way for teens to let out their feelings in a safe way. It can also be a great way for them to learn coping techniques and better understand their changing emotions.
If your teenager has been struggling with fears and anxiety recently, keep these four tips in mind so that you can start to help them. As parents, you know first hand how difficult the teenage years can be, so remember to approach your teen with understanding and compassion.