In 2015, the National Institute for Mental Health reported that 6.3 million teenagers in the United States suffered from some form of an anxiety disorder.
The triggers – The fear of missing out (FOMO), social media pressures, cyberbullying, maintaining a virtual and real image, less face-to-face contact and the inability to measure up – all act as anxiety triggers for high schoolers today.
As a concerned parent or guardian here’s how you can empower your child to deal with their anxiety issues:
- Don’t tell your teen to stop being anxious because they cannot just stop. Encourage them to talk about their anxieties and work on their issues with positive expectancy, making them believe that their anxieties can be resolved. Negating feelings helps no one.
- Focus on teaching your teen critical problem solving and survival skills. Life is not all about making good decisions. It is also about learning how to survive and fight back when the going gets tough. Teach your children to handle failure.
- Create a positive environment at home. Plan jaunts or take up a hobby that will allow you to spend some time with your teen each week. Even if you don’t speak all the time, your child has the assurance that you are around should they feel the need to share.
- Have device-free time at home. Place all your devices in a box before you and your family enjoy some downtime at the dinner table each day.
- Discuss how social media doesn’t tell the whole truth, from idealized bodies to idealized lives. Teach your child to love themselves for who they are, emotionally, mentally, and physically.
It is important to remember that anxiety is not an emotion. It is a psychological response from the brain when it identifies danger.
Whether the danger is real or a perceived one becomes irrelevant to the teen experiencing anxiety.
The brain perceives this danger as real and your child’s body is surged with neurochemicals to deal with it.
Accepting teen anxiety and helping your child forge an independent path into adulthood despite this anxiety, should be your ultimate goal as a parent.