What Parents Should Know About Teen Anxiety

Do you remember what it felt like to be in high school? As you may recall, it’s not exactly a smooth or easy experience. Your body is changing, you’re weighing big decisions about your future, and your social and academic responsibilities are growing ever more complex.

On top of all that, teens have to handle emotions that are in a state of constant flux. It’s enough to cause plenty of stress, and for many teens, the daily battle with anxiety is all too real.

As a parent, you may find it difficult knowing how to help your teen in this struggle. Here are a few things for parents to remember about teenage anxiety.

Anxiety can happen to anyone and at any time.

The first thing to be aware of is that anxiety is an equal opportunity offender, and can sometimes come from out of nowhere. You may or may not be able to pinpoint a specific incident that brought on the anxiety; likewise, you may or may not be aware of anxiety issues in your family tree. The point is, anxiety is something all parents should watch out for. (Indeed, statistics show that teen anxiety is quite common, with roughly one in five teens experiencing it.)

Anxiety is not a character weakness.

When your teen has anxiety, that means he or she has some slightly imbalanced brain chemicals or some out-of-control hormones. It means that he or she is human, and like any of us, can sometimes feel weighted down by stress. What it absolutely does not mean is that your son or daughter lacks character, courage, or strength.

Anxiety can manifest in different ways.

The symptoms of anxiety are wide-reaching and varied. Some of the most common ones include:

– Negative thoughts and self-talk (e.g., teens constantly putting themselves down)

– Excessive worry about physical symptoms; hypochondria

– Intense worry about the future

– Panic attacks that seem to come out of nowhere

– Constant pessimism or dread, or a feeling like something bad is about to happen

– Withdrawal from things that used to bring pleasure, whether that’s school, friends, or hobbies

– Reclusiveness or social withdrawal

There are things you can do to help.

These symptoms can be worrisome, but there are things you can do as a parent to help your teen cope. Overnight cures for anxiety don’t exist, but some positive things you can do include:

– Offer to make them an appointment with a therapist with whom they can talk candidly about their anxieties.

– Don’t let them withdraw from school or from their friends; if they can’t face their daily commitments, that’s a sign they really do need to see a therapist.

– Show your teen some strategies for setting incremental goals and breaking down big, stressful projects into small steps; that’s something a tutor can help with!

– Let them know you are always there for them, and reiterate to them that their feelings of stress have nothing to do with their character or their strength.

– Make sure your teen’s anxiety isn’t interfering with eating and sleeping; don’t let them stay up all night studying just because they feel anxious about an upcoming exam. Again, a tutor can help put smart study strategies in place.

Anxiety impacts all of us sometimes — and as it affects your teen, there is much you can do to support and encourage them. Contact Crafting Scholars to learn more about the role our tutors can play.