Reduce Or Eliminate Screen Time Whenever Possible
The evidence is overwhelming: Screen time is devastating for mental healthespecially in children and teens. Over the past decade, the number of children admitted to hospitals for suicidal thoughts and actions has doubled.3 And studies repeatedly link increased social media use to higher rates of depression and anxiety.4
I know its hard. Im living this unfolding nightmare with you. As a dad trying to do his best and a mental health professional, I dont allow either of my children access to personal devices. I encourage you to do the same, and to limit other forms of medialike shows and movies and video games. If you do allow them to have screens, put guardrails in place to limit their use to specific times of day for specific purposes.
Helping Your Anxious Child Or Teen
Does any of this sound like your child or teen?
Clinging, crying, and/or tantrums when you separate
Excessive shyness, avoiding social situations
Avoiding situations or places because of fears
Complaints of frequent stomachaches or headaches
Experiencing sudden and frequent panic attacks
If so, your child may be experiencing anxiety. This website can help.
Here, you will find practical strategies and tools to help you manage your child’s anxiety, whether your child is just beginning to show symptoms, or has been diagnosed with an anxiety disorder. To begin, continue reading, to find out more about anxietyhow it looks, how it works, and how to recognize if it is problematic. If your child has been diagnosed with an anxiety disorder, you may prefer to click immediately on this disorder on the menu.
As a parent of an anxious child, you are not alone.
Anxiety is the most common mental health concern for children and adults. Because anxious children and teens are often quiet and compliant, however, they frequently go unnoticed by their parents and teachers. As a result, many never receive the help they desperately need. Unfortunately, untreated anxiety can lead to other problems later in life, such as depression, missed opportunities in career and relationships, increased substance use, and an overall decreased quality of life.
The good news: Anxiety can be successfully managed!
Residential Treatment For Teen Anxiety
If after securing outpatient treatment and helping the teento establish these healthy habits has not been effective in reducing anxietylevels, it may be that the teen will benefit from a residential treatmentprogram. An extended stay in a residential setting can allow the teen toreceive a more intensive and comprehensive treatment protocol.
Teen residential treatment programs can customize the treatment approach, using particular evidence-based therapies, holistic and experiential activities, and medication management to help the teen overcome an anxiety disorder in a safe, supportive environment. For teens with escalating anxiety and increasing functional impairment, a residential treatment program designed for teens is an appropriate standard of care.
About the Author:Dr. Arastou Aminzadeh is a triple board certified physician in psychiatry, child and adolescent psychiatry, and addiction medicine, and is the co-founder of BNI Treatment Centers in Agoura Hills, California. Dr. Aminzadeh is a fellow of the American Society of Addiction Medicine and also a fellow of the American Psychiatric Association. A well respected leader in the field, he also holds an adjunct faculty position at the University of Southern California, Keck School of Medicine, where he completed his residency and fellowship.
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Take Care Of Their Physical Needs
When it comes to dealing with teen anxiety, tending to their physical needs can help. Ensure they eat a variety of healthy foods rather than snacking on junk all day. Its also important to be aware if theyre skipping meals or under-eating because of anxiety. Encourage them to exercise regularly, enforce regular bedtimes, and try to have meals together.
Opt For Curiosity Over Anxiety
Its tough to live with uncertainty, and adolescence is filled with unknowns especially now. The lack of control our teens feel in their lives fuels their anxiety.
Instead of harboring worried thoughts, have your teen practice shifting to curiosity. Anxiety shuts down teens and predicts negative outcomes, but curiosity opens them up to possibilities. Help them learn to say, I wonder about rather than, Im worried about
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Anxiety In Teens: Changing Our Reactions To Uncertainty
Anxiety can take over a teens life. It is a shape-shifter just when a teen thinks they have figured out how to deal with one issue, another one pops up. Without internal resources, anxious teens freak out or refuse to do anything for fear of failing. They cant tolerate and deal with uncertainty, realistically evaluate the safety of a given situation, and apply tools from past successes to the present.
When kids can handle the discomfort of not knowing and the possibility of disappointment, when they have effective strategies on which to rely, they develop the resilience to become competent, successful adults. The goal is for your teen not to totally eradicate anxiety, but to recognize it for what it is and take logical steps to deal with it.
To help your teen cope with their frustration, youve got to know how their anxiety operates. Its a persons reaction to the worry, not getting rid of it, that makes the difference. Dismissing their concerns doesnt honor the reality of the worry. It will grow. Reassurance also doesnt provide a lasting solution.
You can validate their concerns by saying, Youre right to be scared. Youre not sure you can handle that. Its natural to worry in that situation. This says that you acknowledge their feelings, and you can now guide them toward managing it.
Expose Your Teen To Social Situations
Although it may be tempting to be overprotective or to shelter your adolescent, it’s important to provide her with confidence-building experiences and to not let him avoid situations that make him anxious. Gradual exposure to new social experiences will help her build social skills and feel more confident in her abilities. This will inherently involve some pushing beyond his comfort zone, but that should, of course, be approached in a measured way. A therapist can guide this, and your involvement as a parent is key.
If you have a younger teenager, be sure to give her the opportunity to speak for herself in situations such as ordering in a restaurant or asking for movie tickets. Be sure to offer praise and rewards when your teen faces feared social situations.
Getting Help For Teenage Anxiety
If anxiety has started to interfere with your childs everyday activities, your child might have an anxiety problem or disorder. These problems can be treated, and the earlier theyre treated the less theyll affect your childs development.
Your child will need professional support.
Options for professional support include:
Don’t Give Your Teen Special Treatment
Treat your teen the same as you would any child and keep your expectations the same, though you may need to be a little more flexible sometimes. Try to find activities at which she excels so she can build confidence and have her help out around the house so she feels like she’s contributing to the family.
Also Check: How To Reduce Anxiety To Sleep
Focus On Building Resilience
Resilience is the antidote to anxiety. When teens identify their strengths, the people who care about them, and their interests, they feel more confident.
Find ways to connect with things that matter to your teen, like a favorite computer game or a funny YouTube video. Demonstrating this connection will make your teen want to work with you in taking on anxiety.
What Are Teenagers Anxious About
Their performance. We see a lot of fear of not doing well, explains Jerry Bubrick, PhD, a clinical psychologist at the Child Mind Institute who specializes in anxiety and OCD. A lot of anxiety is geared towards perfectionism, or needing to do their absolute best in school, beyond an intense work ethic. Even when parents report that they urge kids not to stress over college admissions, teenagers say they feel intense pressure to get those straight As.
How theyre perceived. Every teenager is going to have an awareness of and a certain vigilance about how theyre being perceived, Dr. Bubrick notes. Thats just part of the adolescent process, but some kids have that on steroids. The result can be debilitating social anxiety. Theyre going to be really excessively worrying about whether they might be seen as incompetent or stupid, or theyre really worried about doing something embarrassing.
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Anxiety In Teens Has Nothing To Do With Strength Or Courage
Your child is not a coward because he or she has an anxiety disorder. Some of the most influential people in history suffered from anxiety. Who would question the strength or courage of President Abraham Lincoln, writer John Steinbeck, actor Marlon Brando, poet Emily Dickinson, or Dr. Sigmund Freud, the founder of psychoanalysis? All of these remarkable people suffered from anxiety. They found a way to succeed despite the disorder.
Managing Anxiety: Helping Teenagers
Managing anxiety is an important life skill, which you can help teenagers develop.
One of the most important ways to help your child develop this skill is by talking with them about their worries. By talking openly about anxiety, you send the message that your child can come to you when they need to. And even if your child doesnt always want to talk, theyll know youre there to support them.
Here are other key ways to help your child learn to manage everyday anxiety.
Helping your child face anxiety
Helping your child explore and understand feelings
- Tell your child about your own worries as a teenager. Remind your child that many teenagers feel anxious and that feeling anxious is normal.
- Help your child understand that its normal to go through a big range of emotions and that sometimes these can be strong emotions.
- Talk with your child about their other emotions for example, You seem really excited about the swimming carnival. This sends the message that all emotions, positive and negative, come and go.
- Listen actively to your child. Let your child explain their feelings in their own words and dont rush to reassure them or solve problems for them. This lets your child know that you understand how theyre feeling. It can also help your child identify their thoughts and feelings, which is a good first step to managing them.
Giving your child love and support
Thinking about your family life and routine
Also Check: How To Describe Anxiety To Doctor
How Much Anxiety Is Too Much
Here are some of the signs of excess anxiety:
- You feel anxious, worried, or afraid for no reason at all. Normally, teens feel anxiety because of something specific — like a test or going out on a date. But if there’s no obvious reason for your feelings, your anxiety level may be too high.
- You worry too much about everyday events or activities. Some worry is normal. But if you’re constantly worrying about things that are not unusual, or if you worry so much about those events you avoid them, your anxiety level is too high.
- You continually check whether you did something right. While it’s normal to check something you did to make sure it’s right, continuing to check it again and again is a sign that you have way too much anxiety.
- You’re so panicky that you are unable to function in certain specific situations — like taking tests or socializing with friends.
Think Things Through With The Child
Sometimes it helps to talk through what would happen if a childs fear came truehow would she handle it? A child whos anxious about separating from her parents might worry about what would happen if they didnt come to pick her up. So we talk about that. If your mom doesnt come at the end of soccer practice, what would you do? Well I would tell the coach my moms not here. And what do you think the coach would do? Well he would call my mom. Or he would wait with me. A child whos afraid that a stranger might be sent to pick her up can have a code word from her parents that anyone they sent would know. For some kids, having a plan can reduce the uncertainty in a healthy, effective way.
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Anxiety In Teens: 8 Ways You Can Help Your Child
11 Minute Read | September 23, 2021
The awkward transition from childhood to adulthood known as adolescence is wonderful and mind-boggling and terrifying . . . for both kids and parents. Its full of endless changes, ridiculous pressures to perform and raging hormones. No wonder the National Institute of Mental Health states that nearly one in three teenagers will experience an anxiety disorder.1
Before we go any further, I want to be clear: An anxious teen is not a broken one. At its core, anxiety in a teenager is a signal. Its an alarm telling them theyre unsafe, out of control or lonely.
So, heres the deal: To begin healing from anxiety, your child needs secure and loving relationships. They need and want you. Your child isnt a problem to be fixed. Theyre a precious person youve been entrusted to love. They often dont need your advice as much as they need your presence.
With that in mind, lets talk about ways you can help your teen through their anxiety.
Encouraging A Tech Break
Due to the pervasiveness of technology in our society, teensand adultsfind it difficult to unplug. A student recently shared her experience with a one week Social Media Detox challenge posed by her English teacher. While the thought of giving up Instagram and Snapchat was initially terrifying, she observed how immensely freeing it eventually became. Most teens are connected to technology each day and more so for social reasons rather than academic ones. The challenge for parents is that it is nearly impossible to limit access to most forms of technology, and you may not even desire to. However, guidance and supervision is still important, even in the teen years. Focus on moderation rather than prevention. Participating in a self-imposed break can help to reduce the feelings of pressure in an already overwhelmed teen. For those reluctant to detox completely, offer up a compromise of deleting saved bookmarks from their internet browser, or turning off email notifications on their smart phones . . . at least for a weekend.
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