Teenagers often get a bad rap for being moody, angry and difficult to handle. But teenage anxiety is a real issue. From academic pressures, to bullying and social competitiveness, to family stress – navigating life as a teenager can feel a lot like full-fledged adulthood. Catching stress cues early and developing skills to manage negative thinking can prevent reoccurring panic attacks and unnecessary trauma. It can also prepare a foundation of problem solving tools to support long-term happiness and optimal mental health.
Finding your way through these new skills can be daunting at first, but counseling is a great way to establish the path. In my work as a therapist, I have seen young adults be the fastest to pick up these tools and integrate them. Because the thinking patterns are still young and less solidified, it is the best time to establish new patterns! As adults, we are often working with calcified neural pathways, and making change takes a great deal of patience, practice and persistence. But new insights and awakenings can happen at any age, and counseling can be a great support in this process of self-discovery. Whether it is your teenager's angst or your own, consider these below tips for fearless living.
Tips for Teens:
- Learn Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) techniques to understand how your thoughts create physical symptoms like a racing heart, shortness of breath, shaky hands and a nervous stomach. Confront your negative self-talk and create positive language to feel good!
- Learn how to listen for physical cues, label them as the body’s own fight or flight signals, and put out the flames of the fears in your mind.
- Learn how to meditate using cool apps like Headspace and separate yourself from your thoughts.
Tips for Parents:
- Avoid excessive reassurance and rescue behavior that may indirectly reinforce the need for your child’s anxiety.
- Make a clear plan with your child to limit reassurance and find shared language to access anxiety management tools so that your child can grow his/her own anti-anxiety muscles.
- Actively ignore reassurance seeking after you’ve made a collective plan and identified the voice and behavior of anxiety together.
- Learn to meditate yourself and help support your child’s efforts by managing your own anxiety about his/her anxiety!