Parent dealing with teen anxiety and how to help. Parents of teens today see that teens are struggling today more than ever with different demands and pressures than they ever did. These demands and pressures are internal (i.e. low self-esteem) or external (i.e. school performance), causing anxiety or depression for teens. There are constant pressures to do well in school, fit in with peers, get accepted to a good college, stay connected with family, and establish independence. The ability to manage these pressures is often not a lesson taught in any class or at home. Teenage anxiety is becoming an increasing epidemic and more teens than ever are being prescribed anti-anxiety medications. Sadly, this can create a life-long dependence on prescription medication to manage stress or an inability to learn healthy coping techniques. If you are a parent dealing with an anxious teenager, you should first look for signs and second team up with an individual counseling professional who specializes in cognitive behavioral therapy for the most effective treatment approach.
If you are a parent dealing with teen anxiety how can you help?
Help your teen identify the academic stressors in their lives and develop a healthy perspective. Teens who are regularly avoiding friends, family events, or hobbies due to school assignments or homework might need to reframe their academic mindset. Talk to your teen and help ensure that they have set realistic expectations for themselves. Find out if the school has been putting pressure on your teen to meet certain standards? Do those standards help your specific teen with their lifelong goal, or simply help the school achieve their measurement of success? Teens need to be able to focus on their specific goals and how they can work towards achieving independent success.
If you are a parent noticing that your teen is avoiding you or others, isolating in their room a lot, or withdrawing from normal interaction, begin to ask questions. If your teen is reluctant to talk with you, don’t be afraid to get professional help, or as their parent seek individual counseling. Teenagers and young adults can develop anxiety from low self-esteem, identity issues, figuring out how to navigate relationships, and trying to find ways to fit in with society or peer groups. This is the time to stay curious and involved in your teen’s life even if it seems easier to “just let them be.”
Teens struggle now more than ever with using healthy coping skills. With the introduction of cell phones and the internet, teens spend much of their free time staring at screens. Parents and teens can be guilty of thinking that phone use or social media are “outlets.” Research indicates dopamine released while using devices creates a temporary high that does not last after the activity ends. Healthy outlets (i.e. journaling, counseling, exercise, hobbies, etc) create a long-term change in neurotransmitters and teach teens how to be resilient. A teen who does not have healthy outlets or uses them routinely is at risk for becoming less adaptable, easily overwhelmed, or anxious about life changes. Teach your teen to regulate their screen time and about the chemical reaction of dopamine that happens with screen use. Help them understand this reaction is a false substitute for using healthy outlets for stress.
Medications for anxiety are only temporary. What often ends up happening is doctors are reluctant to prescribe short time anxiety relief and your teen will be prescribed long-term medication for a short-term, situational problem. Before you begin any pharmaceuticals for anxiety, you should consider an evaluation by a mental health counseling professional.
When your teen will not talk to you and as a parent, you feel scared for your teen’s safety, you should not take this lightly. Teen suicide is often overlooked and preventable with the right help. Seek professional help through mental health resources instead of relying on yourself to determine what the best course of action is.
Being a parent can be extremely challenging. With every new developmental stage, you will find yourself having to switch gears and try new things. Teen anxiety is on the rise and you do not have to deal with that parent hurdle alone. There are many professional resources that are available to help your teen learn stress management, better social skills, how to set and achieve life goals, how to manage anxiety with therapy, and any number of solutions specific to this age group. Using the right resource can make all the difference in how to help your teen create long term success, versus a short- term solution.
Get the right help for yourself as a parent dealing with anxiety issues for your teen. When you partner with a mental health expert, you can be assured that your therapist will be on your side. Your teen will be able to develop healthy habits for a lifetime of success. Call us today at 407-592-8997.
Heather Oller is a licensed Orlando therapist at Orlando Thrive Therapy, Coaching & Counseling who specializes in counseling Orlando couples, individuals, and families who are seeking changes in their lives. She has been a mental health professional for over 17 years and is a practicing Orlando counselor that specializes in conflict resolution for couples. You can contact her for an appointment or call 407-592-8997 for more information.