Many Parents Forget Just How Hard it is To Be A Teenager
Being a teenager is awkward and a tough time to live through. And as a parent, you have to support them through this tough time in their life. And being a teenager is hard enough without suffering from anxiety on top of all that.
Here are some ways you can help your teenager through this time – and still be friends at the end.
Encourage Your Teen to Talk
If your teenager is willing, encourage them to talk. About absolutely anything. All you need to do is listen to them – and give them a cuddle. You want your child to be able to come with you for anything without judgement.
In fact, yelling or telling your teenager off when they talk to you is a good way for your teenager to start keeping secrets from you.
Find a nice quiet place in the house or yard where the two of you can talk in private. Even if you can’t help them with their problems, just getting it off their chest can make a huge difference.
Spotting Anxiety in Teenagers
Teenagers are very good at hiding what they are feeling. So you may not automatically realise that your teen is suffering from anxiety. Some indicators include:
- They become withdrawn and avoid any social interaction or activities
- Become very self-criticising. “I’m ugly”, or “I’m not good enough”.
- They always expect the worst will happen in any situation
- Spend most of their time locked in their room in front of a screen
- Their grades deteriorate
- They have trouble sleeping
- Panic Attacks
Most Common Causes of Anxiety
All of us are anxious at some time in our lives. And teenagers will naturally be anxious during times of exams or during relationship breakdowns when everything is so new. But the most common causes of anxiety include:
- School Grades and Expectation to Do Well
- Immature brain development (particularly in boys)
- Failing to meet parental expectations
- Peer pressure
- Drug Use
- Alcohol Consumption
There’s a world outside your bedroom door
Getting your teenager exercising regularly, eating well and spending time with friends and family can really help with minor anxiety. See if you can book them into team sport or an activity that they really enjoy, If your teenager is having problems at school, team sports that are outside the school where they can meet other people their own age that they don’t associate with day to day at school can encourage new friendships and something to look forward to during the school week.
Limit screen time where kids can be bullied online in the ‘safety’ of their own bedroom.
Water is a Great Way to De-Stress
No matter how old your child is – babies through to adults – water is a universal de-stressor. Run them a bath, take them swimming, do some water aerobics, go to the beach – but get in the water.
What Your Teenager Can Do To Help
There is plenty your teen can do to ease the symptoms of anxiety. They can reduce the amount of stress in their life by downloading an app on mindfulness or do regular meditation or relaxation exercises.
There are great online forums to check out such as:
Therapy is NOT a Dirty Word
If you feel like your teenager’s problems are getting out of hand, or out of your depth – seek counselling. Therapy is fantastic – for both your teen dealing with anxiety – and you as a parent dealing with teenagers with anxiety.
Find a therapist that specialises in teenagers and anxiety.
But first – you need to make an appointment with your GP.
Your General Practitioner to get both the health of your teenager checked (to ensure there isn’t anything medically wrong), and to organise a Mental Health Care Plan that can help out with the costs associated with therapy. The Mental Health Care Plan identifies what sort of care your teenager needs, and plans it out to achieve the desired outcome.
Hints: When seeking a Mental Health Care Plan from your GP, book a long appointment. The plan can take a bit of time to complete.
Therapists use cognitive behaviour therapy or counselling to address anxiety issues. They can also prescribe antidepressants if needed.
What Does the Mental Health Care Plan Give You?
The Mental Health Care Plan gives you a Medicare rebate for up to 10 appointments with a mental health service with a year. Once you have attended six appointments, you will need to go back to your GP for a review and another referral.
Mental Heal Services include:
- Access to Social Workers
The Mental Health Care Plan won’t cover the entire cost of the appointments but they will certainly assist. If your teenager requires medication, your GP will worth with a Psychologist or Psychiatrist who can work out the right medication for your teenager.
Types of Anxiety Problems Most Commonly Suffered by Teenagers
People of any age can suffer from an anxiety disorder. It isn’t just limited to teenagers. And they can recover from them with time and treatment. The most common anxiety disorders include:
- Generalised Anxiety Disorder
- Social Phobia
- Separation Anxiety Disorder
- Panic Disorder
The Good News
Anxiety in teenagers is common and can be treated. The trick is to get help early and to keep the lines of communication open. Therapies often offer long-term strategies for teens to soothe anxiety and deal with issues before they blow up into something they can’t handle.
If you become concerned about any symptoms, please seek immediate medical attention – we have some hotlines and suggested websites for further information and advice – https://www.stayathomemum.com.au/my-kids/babies/important-hotlines-websites/