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10 Tips to Navigate Teen Anxiety

an anxious teen with people telling her what to do

Many people believe anxiety is something that only happens to adults. After all, what are kids stressed about? Wait until they’re out there in the “real world,” and they’ll see what anxiety means. In reality, the world has grown increasingly challenging for children and teens — and the numbers back up this up. Nearly one-third of U.S. adolescents have been diagnosed with an anxiety disorder. These days, children as young as four show signs of being impacted.

Fast forward to their teen years and these already anxious kids now have to juggle hormones, schoolwork, part-time jobs, dating, and peer pressure. What can a caring parent do to help?

How to Recognize Teen Anxiety 

A great starting point involves identifying red flags. While younger kids are not yet adept at masking signs, teens can develop coping mechanisms to disguise anything that can make them stand out negatively. As a result, you’ll more easily discern symptoms like nightmares, tantrums, and fidgeting in young children. 

With teens, you expect moodiness and unpredictable behaviors. Hence, you may have to pay much closer attention to notice:

  • Shortening of their temper
  • Participating less in social activities 
  • Apprehension about school
  • Poor quality of sleep 
  • Self-medication 
  • Worrying
  • Needing regular reassurance
  • Unexplained aches, pains, and tension 

If any of this sounds familiar, here are some effective steps to consider. 

10 Tips to Navigate Teen Anxiety

1. Prioritize Healthy Communication

Set up screen time limits in your home (see #6 below), and set aside time for IRL communication. 

2. Let Them Know You’re Available

Teens have reached an age where they have the right to set boundaries. Respect them, but make it clear that they can reach out to you at any time.

3. Do Not Try to Control Your Teen

It might be tempting to impose your opinion, but your teen is a burgeoning adult. Stay involved but give them enough space to feel independent.

4. Talk About Coping Mechanisms 

If you identify substance use or social withdrawal, start a conversation about healthy coping skills.

5. Encourage Self-Care

Help your teen be the best version of themselves by encouraging them to keep a regular sleep routine, make healthy eating choices, engage in daily exercise (see #8 below), and learn some relaxation techniques (see #7).

6. Emphasize Tech Breaks

The entire family will benefit from tech breaks. Your teen, in particular, will reduce stress when they are not held captive by non-stop notifications, social media competition and bullying, internet porn, and the fear of missing out. 

7. Relaxation Techniques 

From yoga to meditation and beyond — these might be activities you can do together.

8. Get Them Moving

Movement is a proven stress buster. Gently inspire your teen to resist the sedentary patterns of modern life. If possible, you can exercise or play sports with them! 

9. Foster Face-to-Face Socializing 

The digital life can lead to anxiety because young people spend less time with in-person activities. Make your home a welcoming place for your teen to invite friends.

10. Be a Role Model 

Lead by example. Re-read the nine tips above to make sure you’re practicing what you preach.

Your Teen May Need an Outside Voice

It could be hard for you to accept, but the input your teen needs may be more effectively delivered by a mental health professional. In a therapy setting, a young adult can feel their emotions are being validated. They may be more likely to share and explore when speaking to an adult who is not one of their parents. 

Teen anxiety can be confusing, but it is common and also manageable. The key is to recognize the need for help and then begin taking the best possible steps for your teen’s particular needs. If you’re trying to navigate teen anxiety and need some direction, reach out to our office today and schedule an appointment.