Pay Attention To The Kind Of Pressure You Put On Your Teen
OBrien: Parental expectations can be a source of stress for a child who thinks their parents love depends on how they do in school, sports, or another activity. While its important to let children know their parents love them unconditionally, it is also important that parents support their teens in overcoming their fears. Gentle encouragement to try out situations that scare them can help teens learn how to manage their anxiety. They need these exposures to help them develop resilience in the face of fear or adversity.
When Does Anxiety Become A Problem
Anxiety is a normal emotion that is essential for survival. Specialists in child development have also noticed that certain fears are more common at certain ages. For example, it is normal for young children to experience some anxiety around strangers, and for older children and teens to experience some performance anxiety in front of peers.
For some, difficulty with anxiety starts to cause considerable distress or interference in everyday life. Common examples of distress are:
Crying every day before going to school, because a parent does not stay
Crying when the child sees a bee or a large dog that comes close
Having an upset stomach every time there is an important test at school
Lashing out or screaming
Anxiety may also interfere with normal activities and with the enjoyment of life. Common examples of interference include:
Refusal to go on school field trips because of anxiety
Being very slow in play or failure to join in with other children
Wanting to stay home sick on the day of a school presentation
Not wanting to participate in unfamiliar activities
Most people consider anxiety to be a problem when it causes significant distress or interference for the child or the family.
Key Point: When encouraging your child to face his or her fears, remember that you are asking your child to fight against an instinctual response to danger!
Visit www.anxietycanada.com for information and community resources.
How Common Is Childhood Depression And Anxiety
Depression and anxiety are among the most common mental health disorders in children. About 7% of children ages 3 to 17 have anxiety about 3% deal with depression.
Both depression and anxiety tend to be higher in older children and teenagers between the ages of 12 and 17. An estimated 3.2 million adolescents aged 12 to 17 in the United States had at least one major depressive episode. This number represented 13.3% of the U.S. population aged 12 to 17. An estimated 31.9% of adolescents have had an anxiety disorder.
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Tips For Parents And Caregivers
Here are things you can do at home to help your child manage his or her anxiety disorder:
- Pay attention to your childs feelings.
- Stay calm when your child becomes anxious about a situation or event.
- Recognize and praise small accomplishments.
- Dont punish mistakes or lack of progress.
- Be flexible, but try to maintain a normal routine.
- Modify expectations during stressful periods.
- Plan for transitions .
Keep in mind that your childs anxiety disorder diagnosis is not a sign of poor parenting. It may add stress to family life, however. It is helpful to build a support network of relatives and friends.
Its important that you have the same expectations of your anxious child that you would of another child, according to psychologist Lynn Siqueland, PhD. She has specialized in treating children and adolescents with anxiety disorders for more than 15 years. She offers these parenting tips for anxious kids, as well as ways to manage siblings, whose lives are also affected.
Teen Anxiety Doesnt Go Away With Reassurance
So many of the things you might say end up having a paradoxical effect and make the anxiety worse, Bea told The Huffington Post recently. Anxiety can be like quicksand -the more you do to try to defuse the situation immediately, the deeper you sink. By telling people things like stay calm, they can actually increase their sense of panic.
A teenager that has been anxious since childhood has probably constructed an entire lifestyle around their anxieties. They may have trained their family, friends, and teachers to accept it, Bea says. Thats why its more difficult to treat anxiety the longer a child has lived with it. They have likely developed unhealthy coping mechanisms to manage it, and like a malfunctioning machine, they shut down when the system fails them.
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Stop Complaining And Blaming
Perhaps you were dealt a bad hand in life. Maybe you had a controlling mother or a father who put you down. Although these life experiences may have contributed to your social anxiety, you donât need to let them continue to influence the course of your life. Start taking responsibility for your actions and behavior.
Seeing Teen Depression For What It Is
I understand the intent: we want to prevent kids and teens from feeling guilty or ashamed when they are struggling.
We want them to understand that mental health issues like these are common and treatable. We donât want them to feel alone. But its also critical they know that their brains are malleable and changeable.
The way we think, develop, relate to others, and handle challenges are critical to good mental health and are components of our human experience that CAN be learned, unlearned, and adapted.
What you believe about yourself and how you view the world are significant factors in both the development and recovery from anxiety, depression, stress, chaotic relationships, and many other issues.
Parents can learn how to help a teen with depression when the family takes a skill-building approach.
Teens are hearing so they tell me when I ask themthat depression and anxiety are permanent, based on hard wiring and/or genetics. While there may be some genetic contribution to anxiety and depression in teens, there is no known anxiety gene or depression gene nor ANY solid scientific proof that fully explains what causes depression.
We do know that the malleability of our brains, our chemistry, and even the genetic expression of our DNA is far broader and influential than researchers believed even 10 or 15 years ago, and we know about risk factors, like trauma, isolation, and social disconnection, to name a few.
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If You Are Worried About Your Teenager Seek Help
Ginty Butler: One of the things that often gets lost is the fact that anxiety and depression are both treatable illnesses. With appropriate treatment, people can and do get better.
Parents who are concerned that anxiety or depression is causing their teen to withdraw from friends or activities they used to enjoy should seek professional care for their child. The best place to start is with a trusted health care provider, such as a family pediatrician. You can also reach out to Boston Childrens or another pediatric health provider for resources.
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Its Hard Watching Our Kids Grow Up When Theyd Prefer Not To
Its gut wrenching watching them having to grow up when theyd rather not. To see them battling depression or feeling anxious because so much is hanging over their heads. To watch as they literally climb in bed, fully clothed and pull the blankets over them as their way to cope. They would rather not do homework for hours theyd rather not tackle the college application process. Theyd rather not face whats coming. Theyd rather not Adult.
As a mom, Id rather not face that angst or the teen when shes feeling the angst. But thats not an option, obviously. Yesterday everything was going along fine as it usually does. Until it doesnt. Being asked by her dad to swap out the laundry and start another load was kind of a bummer. But add walking the dog, and suddenly Kylie careened off an edge that I was unaware she was standing on.
To her credit, she did the laundry and took Brodie outin fact, she even brought him home and took herself for a walk. Sensible choices and a good option for calming the beast. I was proud of her for trying that actually. Seeing her use her different coping skills is hearteningespecially when they work.
It didnt. The door slammed, feet stomped, muttering was heard. Clearly she was back and had brought the beast with her. My instinct was to immediately bring her a snack. She hadnt had much to eat after the morning stack of pancakes.
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Dont Solve Your Teenagers Problems For Them
Your teens get home from school, slump on the sofa, then immediately begin to complain about their never-ending to-do list.
You already know that they feel social pressure to fit in at school. And now theyre facing additional stress because of their academics and extracurricular activities.
No wonder they feel anxious!
As a parent, its natural for you to want to fix your teens problems. So, when you hear your teens venting, it can be tempting to say things like:
- If youre so worried about the test next week, why dont you start studying now?
- Dont worry so much about what other people think. Everything is going to be okay!
- You should put your phone away whenever youre doing your work. Then you wont have trouble meeting all your deadlines.
Heres the thing about helping teens with anxiety
They dont need a lecture from you, and they dont need you to fix the situation. They need to know that youre trying hard to understand their feelings and perspective.
I recommend that you use active listening techniques as frequently as you can.
Give your teens your full attention and try not to offer unsolicited advice. Demonstrate that you empathise with your teens feelings by saying something like:
It sounds like you feel a lot of pressure to juggle your responsibilities, and youre afraid that youre not going to be able to fulfil all your responsibilities well.
Why Your Kids Misbehave And What To Do About It
Tantrums. Talking back. Throwing toys or food. Meltdowns. Slamming doors. Kids know just how to push your buttons. Youve tried all sorts of methods, but nothing seems to work. In this book, Dr. Kevin Leman reveals exactly why kids misbehave and how you can turn that behavior around with practical, no-nonsense strategies that really work . . . and are a long-term win for both of you.
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How Should I Act With My Teenager
Teenagers can be largely emotional rather than logical because of their hormones. It is not necessarily pleasant for them, and it can even feel frightening.
Although it might be hard for you, they need you to maintain a calm consistent presence.
Follow these tips:
- listen to them when they do want to talk and try not to interrupt until they’ve finished speaking
- allow them to learn from their own mistakes as long as they are safe and accept they might do things differently to you
- do not bottle up your concerns if you’re worried your teenager may be having unprotected sex or using drugs, try talking calmly and direct them to useful information, such as these articles on drugs or getting contraception.
- allow them to have their own space and privacy
The Relate website has more information about parenting teenagers that covers many of these subjects.
When To Pursue Therapy
How do you know when your teens anxiety is severe enough for you to seek therapy for them? Here are a few reasons why you may choose to pursue therapy for your teen:
- When you as a parent are emotionally getting sucked into their anxieties, and it is impacting you.
- If your teen is not as open with you as a parent, they may choose to be more open with a therapist about their thoughts. Sometimes a counselor can say things a parent cant or that your teen is more open to hearing.
- When you need objectivity with your teen.
- If the 3×5+1 method described above isnt helping after 1-2 months.
- If there are other neurological elements, such as OCD, that are feeding into his or her anxiety.
- When your teens anxiety is so severe that it impacts life to a great degree, or he or she is contemplating suicide.
Medication can be one of the ways to help teens with anxiety, if it is severe. It is important to note that medication does not cure anxiety. Medications for anxiety slow down a persons thinking so their brain can figure out how to establish new thought patterns and change.
Think of medication as a pair of jumper cables for your car. When you have a dead battery, you jump the car and start driving again. You dont go driving down the highway with the cables still attached. Likewise, medication can help your teen get started back in the right direction, but its not something they will be on forever.
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Professional Help For Social Anxiety In Children
If youre worried about your childs anxiety and feel that its affecting their enjoyment of life, consider seeking professional help. Here are some places to start:
- your childs teacher at preschool or school, or a school counsellor
- your childs GP or paediatrician, who can refer you to an appropriate mental health practitioner
- your local childrens health or community health centre
- a specialist anxiety clinic
Getting Help For Your Child
Its a good idea to seek professional support if self-help strategies are not making the situation better and anxiety is affecting your childs life – for example if they are feeling persistently anxious, often having distressing thoughts, or avoiding things like going outside or speaking to others.
There are different places where you can find help for your child. Your GP, your child’s school and considering whether counselling or therapy might help are good places to start.
You can find out more about speaking to GPs, finding a counsellor or therapist, accessing Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services , getting help from your childs school and finding local services on our guide to getting help for your child.
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How You Can Help
If your teen is diagnosed with depression, there are ways you can be supportive. Educate yourself about depression so you can have a better idea of what your teen is going through. Be available to listen and encourage your teen to talk to you about anything that might be bothering them.
Support your teenâs daily routines, such as taking medications and eating healthy, encourage healthy self-help strategies, and make sure your home is a safe, comforting place.
Start getting your teen help for depression by talking to their doctor. Working with a mental health professional and your family doctor is the best beginning strategy for a teen suffering from depression. This treatment strategy will help your teen deal with their current problem and prevent the depression from getting worse and causing more problems in school, their social lives, and their development.
Some teens who are suffering from depression do not want to seek help. They may beg, get upset with you, or become violent when you suggest it. Even if your concerns are met with resistance, it is still important that you seek help for your teen.
How To Help Your Child In An Anxious Moment
When your child is in the middle of a very anxious moment, they may feel frightened, agitated or worried about having a panic attack. The important thing to do in the moment is to help them calm down and feel safe.
These strategies can help:
Remember that everyone is different, and that over time you and your child can work together to find the things that work best for them in these moments.
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Deal With Your Anxiety Issues
The best way to help your daughter overcome her anxiety is to deal with your anxiety. You can do this by learning as much as you can about anxiety disorder using self-help materials, such as those in the Recovery Support area of our website.
Then, work with an experienced anxiety disorder therapist to help you discover and successfully address the underlying factors that are causing issues with your anxiety.
Most often, children learn their anxious behaviors from their parents, either from one or both. When parents address their anxious behaviors, they can help their children address theirs, too.
Since children often are greatly influenced by their parents behavior, they are more eager to make healthy change when they see their parents exhibit healthy behavior. Children also learn faster when parents model healthy behavior.
Teen Depression And Anxiety: What Parents Can Do
If youre worried about an adolescent and arent sure what to do, you can this advice from Fadi Haddad, MD, a child and adolescent psychiatrist and the author of Helping Kids in Crisis. To read more about adolescents, depression and anxiety, check out our cover story, The Kids Are Not All Right.
Talk about the real stuff
Sometimes conversations between parents and teens can be all about achievements, schedules and chores. Go beyond that. Find out what keeps them up at night, and ask, Whats the best part of your day? Become attuned to their emotional world so that you understand what their dreams are, what they struggle with and how their life is going.
Give them space, but pay attention
Give teens space to grow and separate from you, but also watch for changes in behavior. Are they giving up activities they used to enjoy? Are they staying up all night or eating differently? Is your outgoing kid now withdrawn? If youre worried, say so. Show interest in their internal life without judgment.
Resist getting angry
When parents learn a teen has been hiding something or is having behavior issues, the response is often anger or punishment. Instead, see whats going on. If a kid is acting out or doing things like self-harming, skipping school, respond with compassion first. Say, It seems like youre having trouble, Im here to help. Tell me whats happening with you.
Dont put off getting help
Treat the whole family
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