How to Help Your Teenager Get Beyond Their Anxiety - Part 3

empowering your teenager Jul 10, 2023

In this post, I am going to share some of the signs of anxiety and your two roles as a parent of a child who struggles with anxiety.


There are both behavioral and physical signs of anxiety.  Some of the behavioral signs include:


  • Trouble concentrating
  • Sensitivity to criticism
  • Irritability
  • Withdrawn
  • Substance abuse
  • Drop in grades


Some of the physical signs of anxiety include:


  • Not being able to sleep
  • Headaches
  • Stomach aches
  • Fidgeting
  • Sweating


Obviously, some of these symptoms may have causes other than anxiety. For example a stomach ache but it is helpful to know that anxiety is a potential cause.   If your child has complained of stomach aches 4 times in the last week, one of your questions should be …


I wonder if they are struggling with anxiety?    


If you aren’t sure, here is something to consider.  I have found that my children are pretty self aware so I will just ask them if there is anything they are worried about or feeling anxious about.


This is a good time to point out again that anxiety is very common.  It is not a matter of if your child will experience anxiety, it is a matter of when and at what level.   The same could be said of us as parents as well.  I bet you could name a few things that you worry about or circumstances that make you sweat under the arms a little.  


Now, let’s take a look at your two roles as a parent.


Your first role is to provide a safe space for your child to regain their composure if they ever become overwhelmed. It is important to note that this is always the first priority.  Sometimes as parents we want to rush through or skip this step and move straight to “fixing” the problem. Think of it this way.  Your child is not in a position to even consider a new perspective when they are feeling overwhelmed.  I will be sharing some strategies for regaining composure in the next post.


Your second role is to help your child get beyond their anxiety.   Think back to the model I shared in part 2 of this series.   The second component of our perception involves our interpretation of our circumstances.   With this role your goal is to guide your child to a new interpretation of the circumstance that is creating the anxiety.    Again, I will be sharing some strategies for accomplishing this in parts 5 and 6 of this series.


My intention today is to clearly distinguish your two roles because they have two very different objectives.


  • Provide a safe space for them to regain their composure.
  • Guide and empower as they reinterpret  their circumstances.


Remember, your child will not be able to even consider possible solutions until they are feeling safe and have regained their composure.


Your family enrichment coach,


Jim White







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