Teenage Anxiety Issues: Do you have a teenager at home? All I can say is God Bless you. I, myself have 2. Lovely boys are what I should be saying. C’mon, they are my kids… BUT Man… it is so difficult.
This we are talking from the point of view of a parent. But then we also must look at it from our not so little one anymore, Teenager.
Hard, hard to be a teenager! At the age of the first times, exams, puberty, the passage of adulthood … stress factors abound.
What are the consequences of these daily tensions? How to recognize them? How to avoid them?
All answers there for teens and their parents based on experience, research and personal opinions’ and conclusions.
- What is anxiety?
- Frequency of anxiety disorders
- How long do they last?
- How to spot Teenage Anxiety Issues?
- The symptoms can be experienced differently
- Anxiety syndrome in children and teens
- Teenage Anxiety Issues
- Where should I get help if I think my child’s fears and anxiety are worrying?
- What can parents do to help their children deal with their fears and anxieties?
- 6 + 1 TIPS to CURE Teenage anxiety issues
What is anxiety?
Disclaimer: This portion you are about to read is the definition part. So, it is bit technical. But hang in there. It gets simpler and easier.
Painful experience involving insecurity, a related threat:
- To an undetermined danger (“fear not applicable”),
- To events involving a potential physical or psychological danger (separation, intervention surgical, examination), but disproportionate or inadequate in the eyes of an outside observer.
- Anxiety is a normal component of development.
- It warns of a danger, is part of a progression, manifests limits (which can be exceeded) and emotions (leaving the house, showing one’s abilities can be both tempting and worrying).
- Separation anxiety is part of the child’s maturing process
Frequency of anxiety disorders
Anxiety disorders are the most common psychiatric problems in children and adults.
It is estimated that approximately 6-13% of children and adolescents have an anxiety disorder, with girls being diagnosed more often than boys.
How long do they last?
Left untreated, some anxiety disorders that start in childhood can last a lifetime, although they can occur periodically.
Anxiety and depression are not one and the same. They should not be confused as one. However, they can co-exist. To know more about depression in teenager do read our article How-to find out if your teenager is battling depression?
How to spot Teenage Anxiety Issues?
These are some of the common expressions of anxiety in teenagers:
- You kid begins to cry easily or very touchy feely.
- Your anxious teenager can often get emotional outbreaks.
- An anxious teenager can be very restless.
- Your teen can have trouble falling asleep.
- An anxious teenager can be having trouble concentrating.
- A generally happy child starts to feel more irritated, pulls away or is difficult to contact.
- They can also suddenly become afraid of something, or have difficulty doing something that they have previously managed. For example, it can be sleeping away or staying in a foreign environment.
What we have listed above are few of the things that an anxious teenager can do. And when you spot this symptom being repeated often it should be a sign of concern to you.
Note: Do not conclude that your teenager is having teenage anxiety issues if you see them display any of these just once or very rarely.
To know in detail about most of these problems and how to deal with them you can browse through the articles we have written. You can use the link that is given here. Parenting challenges while raising teenagers
The symptoms can be experienced differently
Symptoms of anxiety can be experienced differently for different children, and manifest in different ways depending on the child’s age.
It can also feel different at different times. We have listed below to give you more clarity on the topic some of the way’s anxiety can be experienced…
- It feels like butterflies in the stomach.
- It hurts the stomach, or you feel unwell.
- The heart beats hard and / or fast.
- It feels like pressure over the chest.
- It is difficult to breathe.
- The muscles are tense, the body shakes or vibrates.
- It swings and spins in your head.
- It feels like there is a lump in your throat or stomach.
- They can suddenly become pissed or loose in the stomach and must go to the toilet frequently.
These types of symptoms are manifested because the brain’s nervous system releases stress hormones. These stress hormones affect several organs in the body.
You might be interested to read the below articles that can help you in your journey.
Anxiety syndrome in children and teens
From my research I find that anxiety syndrome is a collective name for several different diagnoses.
The difficulty the child may have depends on the type of anxiety disorder it is about. These diagnoses include anxiety disorders:
- Specific phobias
- Panic Disorder
- Agoraphobia – squares
- Separation anxiety
- Generalized anxiety disorder, GAD
- Social anxiety, previously called social phobia
- Selective mutism – involuntary silence
Sometimes the child may have problems that correspond to more than one syndrome.
The problems can go away over time, but treatment is often needed.
Teenage Anxiety Issues
Dylan is afraid of the dark. Tricia hates eating in front of others. Eric is nauseated and vomits if he must speak in front of the class.
Fear and worry are very normal aspects in the lives of children and adults.
However, these if concerns start to significantly affect daily functioning, then it is called anxiety.
Parents may notice that their children seem nervous or scared. This can be linked to a stressful event, such as participating in a competition or writing an exam.
In such situations, it is normal for a child to feel worried or nervous. It can even help the child memorize his text or study further for a test or practice better.
However, it becomes problematic when children or adolescents often feel nervous or worried, and has difficulty coping with a new situation or challenge.
Rather than just feeling ‘nervous’, they are more ‘anxious’. When the level of anxiety is high enough to interfere with the daily activities of a child or young person, then your teenager is having anxiety issues and need further help to rule out anxiety disorder.
Boy ready for a fist fight
In boys, fights, runaways, truancy are the behaviours that will express discomfort.
Teen violence is generally projected towards others, rather than towards oneself. (Suicide attempts among boys have remained stable).
And drug use is a predominantly a male phenomenon, and is increasingly common. If you like to be more aware on the topic of drug use. Read our article How-To find out if your teenager is using drugs.
However, On the other hand, it should be emphasized that alcohol consumption has not changed despite appearances.
Where should I get help if I think my child’s fears and anxiety are worrying?
Despite your best efforts to help your child cope with fears and anxiety. There may be times when your child’s thoughts and emotions are so overwhelming that you can no longer cope. Or help your teenager on your own.
In such trying times I have listed below few things that you can consider doing to help you face your teenager anxiety issues …
Consider the following:
Talk to your child’s teacher and other adults (coaches, instructors) who interact with your child. There could be a problem that you are not aware of.
Find books and websites that could help everyone, including you, your child, and other family members, to better understand how they are feeling.
Take input and guidance from close concerned members in your family for tips and suggestion. Members like grandparents, Uncles and aunts who have raised teenagers themselves.
Contact your family doctor or paediatrician. The time for a health check may have come and it may be a good time to talk about what is likely to cause these symptoms in your child.
Your doctor will help you decide if your child needs to see someone, such as a child psychologist, to help them overcome their fears and anxiety.
What can parents do to help their children deal with their fears and anxieties?
Provide unconditional validation.
First, make sure your child feels comfortable expressing their fears, worries or other distressing feelings to you. Validate these concerns. Do not minimize them.
If a child feels that he can safely come to an attentive adult with his worries, this helps him to feel a little more secure in the world.
It helps to build an emotional connection with your teenager. Know more on how to go about doing it in our article How-To Easily build Emotional Connection with your Teenager.
Be patient and reassuring
Talk to them and be positive about their ability to cope with anxiety-provoking situations. Keep the lines of communication open.
Reward and Praise your child
Reward your child for good coping behaviour. Praise him for his “courageous” behaviour and for his successes, even partial.
Emphasize your child’s efforts to address and manage his concerns.
Such positive validation, praise and rewards make the child self-confident also. Others ways of developing self confidence in teenager can be found in the article How to develop self-confidence in your teenager.
Manage your own anxieties
You will have to try and manage your own anxieties without allowing your own concerns to influence your child’s behaviour.
Be a role model for your child and show him how to act in everyday life without fear and anxiety.
Acknowledge the issue and Educate your Teenager
Instead of avoiding the issue that causes fear or anxiety, increase your child’s exposure to it.
If your child is afraid of spiders, you may want to start reading a book on spiders.
If your child is afraid to speak in front of a group, he could talk about his favourite toy at the next family reunion.
Give your child opportunities to overcome his fear by increasing his exposure to what scares him and allowing him to record small victories.
Teach Positive Phrases for self-validation
This strategy has worked wonders for my elder son. And he still follows it.
Teach your child positive monologues. Like the little engine that could get there, teach your child to repeat a positive phrase.
This will help them overcome their fear. Phrases like …” I know I can do it” or “I am brave and not afraid” can help your child feel strong when he is afraid or anxious.
Teach coping mechanism
Teach your child to imagine that he is in a nice, relaxing place, a place where he feels safe.
Distractions can do wonders when trying to cope with anxiety-provoking situations.
Children can also learn to manage their anxiety by calming their breathing and reducing the tension in their muscles.
More ideas of anxiety coping mechanism- anxiety antidote given below… Continue reading.
For families that have religious inclination and believe in the power of prayer. It is highly advised that there is a family time for prayer. This is a very powerful way of coping with problems and stress associated with it.
You will do good by reading my blog 11 Practical ways to help your child face challenges. To help you with your journey.
Something more specific to teenager if you are looking to then you can read the article How to Prepare your Teenager Face Challenges in Life.
Avoid Conflict among spouse Infront of your child
Children may start to feel worried and anxious if there is a conflict between their parents.
Difficult conversations between parents should take place when children are not present. This will help in not mounting more anxiety on your teenager. And will provide a stable and secure environment for them.
Ensure physical well being
Help your child see good physical health and regular routines.
Make sure he has a balanced diet, good sleep patterns and good physical condition through exercise.
Allow time for your child’s leisure and relaxation.
This also helps your teen to handle their mood swings. Any parent of teenager mostly will face the issue of mood swings in teenagers. This has also prompted us to write an elaborate article How-To Help & Deal with a teenager mood swings.
Trust and empower your teenager
Parents of an anxious teen should trust and empower them. If they overprotect their adolescent, they unconsciously reinforce their feeling of lack of self-confidence.
Please read our article on parenting styles in our blog titled PARENTING STYLES – How to spot your style? so you can understand the type of parent you naturally are. And you can build up on it.
Be Present for your teenager
Parents must be present and accompany him in what he is going through. It is important to available for your teenager.
Be careful not to put too much pressure on their performance. Parents must first encourage his efforts. And encourage them to give in their best.
6 +1 TIPS TO ADDRESS YOUR Teenager ANXIETY issues
1. The teenagers must look for the origin and the cause of his anxiety to find the meaning. When, how and why did the anxiety attacks start? There is usually a trigger for an episode of anxiety. Sometimes it is vaguer and the anxiety is there from a very young age.
2. The teenager must face what scares him to avoid the vicious cycle of anxiety.
3. Know yourself. When the teenagers know his strengths and weaknesses, his qualities, and his faults, he is more able to have confidence in himself and to experience successes in the face of his fears.
4. The teen must lead a balanced life. Exercise or sport, but also find moments of relaxation and rest, laughter, and fun.
5. Learn to breathe. There are different relaxation exercises, some more active than others. But breathing really helps to decrease anxiety when practiced daily.
6. The teen must take the time to be in touch with his emotions. Quite often, behind anxiety, there are other emotions and discovering them helps to eliminate anxiety.
This is something that works like a charm for my second son. Encourage your child to go for a walk, spend some time in the garden. Basking in the sunlight. It helps him relax and deal with his anxieties better.
You will also be amazed at the benefits sunlight can bring to your kid. It includes helping to deal with anxiety. Yes! You heard me right! Sunlight n reduce anxiety. Read our important article 20 Astonishing benefits of sunlight for kids to know for yourself.
Ways to calm your anxious teen (3S)
When your teen comes to you. Or you feel that your teen is anxious about something…
Go ahead and initiate the conversation. Do not wait for the teen to open. Talk about what you have noticed and feel. If your teen does not wish to talk about it. Respect that but end the conversation by saying that you will be there for them if they need you.
Follow this 3S model when your teen opens to you…
- Speak: Speak to them. Let them speak to you. Most of the time we feel better when you speak our feelings out. Rather than bottling up inside. So, as parents make it a point to set environment where your teen can slowly open to you.
- Separate: In the about point when you speak you are acknowledging and validating your teams feeling. But here you work with your teen to use logical reasoning to separate the anxious thoughts that they might have from the actual reality. Most of the time anxiousness are just fears one has just built up in their minds. Help separate them
- Sooth: Work with your teen to find out things that sooth your teens anxious nerves. (refer: Subtopic anxiety coping mechanism- anxiety antidote) These become the coping mechanisms your teen can use when they get stressed or anxious. This is important for you to teach your teen to prevent them from falling into trap of alcohol, smoking drugs etc… as a coping mechanism.
20 Common Anxiety coping mechanism- Anxiety Antidote
Work with your teen to find out things that sooth your teens anxious nerves. Brainstorm with your teen. Help them with these coping mechanisms so that they can handle anxious episodes well.
Some examples of basic coping mechanism to get you thinking…
- Going for a short walk.
- Standing in the sun
- Slow deep breathing
- Remembering a happy memory
- Going to a happy place mentally
- Writing about their feelings
- Shouting their lungs out into their pillow.
- Silence themselves. Mediate or pray.
- Distracting by indulging in a hobby (art, craft, gardening etc)
- Sweat it out by indulging in sports or exercise.
- Listening to inspirational speech or reading inspirational quotes
- Music (listening or playing)
- Having a warm or cold shower to cool off
- Going for a long ride
- Talking to their trusted friends or family members
- Cuddling their favourite toy, or blanket or you.
- Sleep it off
- Go and participate in game (indoor or outdoor)
- Cook or do favourite chores…
- Play with their pet.
And so, on and so forth… The list is endless…
The key is that you help your teen find effective coping mechanisms. This will help them to use these mechanisms when they are having an anxiety attack. This will get them quickly out of the episode…
Video Time: Expert opinion about anxiety in children and adolescent
Teenage Anxiety Issues are on the raise. Times are more tough and complicated as the world embraces technology and growing in a rapid speed.
While we as parents have grown though the stage of being a teenager ourselves. It is of little compression between the challenges that we faced to what our teenagers face these days.
The best we can do is put in our best efforts and help their teens by leading by example. If you are and anxious parent yourself. There is a good change that your child can have teenage anxiety issues.
So, understand this and do whatever it takes to work on your anxiety, it will help your teen.
With good intentions and committed efforts you will be successfully in dealing or preventing teenage anxiety issues.
I am not a medical practitioner. But I am a concerned parent who like to share my knowledge that have gathered while I am raising my children.
This is for information purpose ONLY and not a medical advice or recommendation. And it is not a substitute for medical advice.
If you are feeling concerned and worried about your kid. Your instinct tells you to be concerned.
As a parent to parent. I would say trust your instinct. No one knows better than you as a parent to your child. It is best to reach out to a qualified practitioner to address your concern.
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