Anxiety affects millions of children and teenagers every year, and while some of the triggers may be similar from child to child, there is no one treatment that works for everyone. Because anxiety and stress can affect your child’s relationships, physical and mental health, and ability to function at school or work, it’s important to talk to them about how they’re feeling and to let them know that it’s normal to have fears.
There are many ways you can help your teen cope with anxiety, but it may take some trial and error before you find a method that works, and that’s totally normal. Open up a dialogue with them about how they feel, what their body goes through when they feel anxious, and the best ways to cope when those feelings arise.
Here are some of the best tips on how to do just that.
Start a Conversation
The first thing to do is start a conversation about your child’s fears and try to find out what they’re rooted in. Talk to your teen to get an idea of what’s causing them to feel stressed, and let them know that it’s perfectly normal. Some kids worry about taking tests, while others feel anxious around big groups of people or in situations where they don’t know very many people. Some kids let their imaginations get the better of them and worry about things that haven’t happened yet and may never happen. This is normal, too, but it’s important to learn coping techniques that help circumvent these fears. This may include breathing exercises, positive visualization, or even keeping a physical item nearby that brings them comfort.
Learn Calming Techniques
Your teen may benefit from practicing yoga and/or meditation, which can promote mindful thinking and helpful deep breathing exercises. Mindful thinking encourages an individual to focus on the present — where their body is, the rhythm of their breathing, and what’s going on around them in the moment — rather than worrying about the future.
Practice Art Therapy
Worry and anxiety can often be associated with stress. Talk to your teen about their daily activities to see where they might be able to reduce or handle stress a little more easily, and consider introducing them to art therapy. This can be done in several different ways, such as painting, writing, drawing, or playing an instrument, and it can significantly reduce anxiety and stress.
Stick to a Routine
Sometimes, we experience anxiety when a routine is unexpectedly changed. It might be helpful to try to stick to a routine as much as possible with your teen — dinnertime, homework time, bedtime, etc. — to help them cope a little more easily with their worries.
Ease Their Fears
Anxiety sometimes comes on so strongly that it feels like it will never go away. Reassure your teen, and let them know that even though it feels overwhelming, it will pass. The worst cases of anxiety can lead to depression, isolation, and even substance use when teens feel out of control.
Helping your child deal with their anxiety may save them from facing more serious issues as they continue to get older. An anxious childhood can certainly give way to an anxious adulthood. It’s important to address the issue early on so your child can live a happier and healthier life.