• Zoe Spooner

How to Help Your Teen With Anxiety

Updated: Apr 20


As a parent, watching a child suffer is one of the hardest things to endure. You are hard-wired to protect your child and want to do anything to support them.


You can at times feel helpless and as though you have no control.


Perhaps you are watching your teen grow up missing out on building memories with others, watching them procrastinate as their GCSE’s/A-levels approach and wonder why they are wasting so much of their potential.


Anxiety can be difficult to understand for the individual experiencing it let alone as an observer. As an observer, we can feel frustrated as we may not be comprehending what is going on for the other and to us, the solution at times can seem simple.


Help Your Teen By Building Resilience


To best help a teen with their anxiety we have to take a leaf out of an old children’s story if you can remember the old tale “We Are Going on a Bear Hunt” written by Michael Rosen.


“We can’t go over it,

We can’t go under it,

We have got to go through it”


To enable your teen to manage their anxiety they need to build resilience towards it.


This means they need to navigate towards situations that spark their anxiety.


It can sound counter-intuitive as when they approach a situation it causes them distress and this is the exact opposite of what you want your teen to go through.


However, when they navigate through the situation successfully they will build their self-esteem and next time they face a similar scenario it won’t be as difficult as they have the knowledge that they have overcome it before and the skills to manage it.


How to Build Resilience Towards Anxiety


It can be thought of a little like the gym. At first, getting motivation and commitment to going is really tough. When you finally get to the gym it can feel painful and awkward as you realise you really don’t know what you are doing. But with persistence and support you can get into a routine and what felt near off impossible is now a lot easier and you are able to look at tackling bigger challenges.


Applying this same philosophy to your teen, you might encourage them to go along to the next group meet and not give them a get-out clause. They may have a meltdown before they go, feel very uncomfortable and embarrass themselves but they also might make a new friend or realise they can cope which makes it all worthwhile.


When prepping for exams, your teen child may experience extreme discomfort any time they sit down to revise. Breaking the revision down into more manageable chunks will support them in the long run.


The key is not to avoid anxiety, this may be our parental instinct but only inhibits the teen further as they are not learning skills on how to manage it.


At times they may not “succeed” but the idea is for them to become comfortable being uncomfortable, this is how we grow as humans.


You want to increase their exposure to anxiety and stress and build their resilience along the way without having them becoming completely overwhelmed.


They will then begin to learn it’s normal to feel anxious and that they will be ok.


Life, as we know, is filled with adversity and change; you only have to look at the recent cancellation of exams due to COVID-19 to see how unpredictable it can be.


A study by the University of Cambridge suggests that 14-year-olds, that are experiencing mental health problem but don’t get support are 7 times more likely to get clinical depression by the time they are 17.


The better we can equip our teens of today the more successful and happy they will be in the future.


If you are looking for support with your teenager, get in touch at: zoe@thetreeoflifecoaching.com

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