Parents who have tweens with anxiety want to help them cope with their symptoms so they can lead normal lives. Even if your child is in treatment, you can reinforce what they learn in therapy at home.
Anxiety in tweens and teens is common. “Estimates show 10 to 15 percent of American children are affected by, meet the criteria of, or are diagnosed with, some form of an anxiety disorder.” So parents, you are not alone. You can learn how to help your teen cope with anxiety by research, through support groups, with the help of a psychiatrist, psychologist, therapist, or guidance counselor.
Tips to Help Your Tween Deal with Anxiety:
- Encourage Discussions about Worries and Fears – Give your tween time to talk to you about what her concerns are. Don’t disparage or ridicule. Give your full attention, ask questions and assure your tween that any time they need to talk they can come to you.
- Stick to a Routine – Having a daily schedule is reassuring to anyone with anxiety. Knowing when meals and bedtime are, for example prevents surprises which can throw off a tween or teen with anxiety. A daily chart of each activity can be helpful.
- Encourage a Healthy Lifestyle – Make nutritious meals and snacks. Be sure your child gets enough sleep. Add some type of physical activity daily. All of these help your tween to cope.
- Teach and Help with Relaxation Techniques – This may be trial and error until you find what helps your child best. Some examples are deep breathing, visualization, muscle relaxation and listening to music.
- Prevent Avoidance – Tweens with anxiety want to avoid the triggers that cause them to worry or even have panic attacks. If panic attacks do occur, you may need to get advice from a mental health specialist first. If not, start with simple tasks or events and work your way up to the more difficult ones. This is known as Systematic Desensitization.
- Allow Independence – Even though your child may have physical symptoms, like a stomach ache, headaches or feeling shaky, and be extremely emotional, it’s necessary to provide ways for your tween to be independent. Let him speak to his teacher about his test anxiety on his own. Sign him up for group activities.
- Hide Your Fears – You are probably worried about your anxious child, but do your best to control your fears so her anxiety doesn’t worsen. If you have fears, phobias or a diagnosis of anxiety, get treatment for yourself and use your coping skills.
My tween daughter has had anxiety since she was an infant. Because of Acquired Long QT Syndrome, she cannot take medication to treat it, so we have been working on behavioral modification techniques with the help of a psychiatrist and therapist. I must admit that it is quite difficult to follow all of these suggestions to a t, but no one is perfect. My husband and I do the best we can to help our tween cope with her severe anxiety. I also am an advocate for children with anxiety so others are educated about this condition.
Do you have any other tips or suggestions?
Reading Suggestion – My Anxious Mind: A Teen’s Guide to Managing Anxiety and Panic
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