Anxiety is a part of every individual and family. It only becomes a problem when it takes over and runs the show. As a parent, this might look like checking grades every day and micromanaging school work. As a kid, this might look like hanging out at home for excessive periods of time to be on line or play video games while avoiding real friendships.
Managing our own anxiety while helping our kids work through theirs can feel extremely daunting. I’m going to be offering some guidance and valuable information about how to do this at my workshop next Thursday, March 22nd and I hope you’ll come. If you’re not able to make that (or even if you are), I’ve identified 5 things that I think all parents should know about anxiety below. I hope you find it helpful.
- “Anxiety” represents the physical symptoms associated with “worry”, which are the negative thoughts that trigger those physical sensations. We can help adolescents by helping them shift their negative thoughts (from: “everyone hates me at school” to: ”most people like me or don’t care”) as well as coping with the physical symptoms (taking slow deep breaths to manage stomach ache and shallow breathing). Ultimately, they need to learn that they can handle and get through the uncomfortable feelings instead of avoiding them.
- Anxiety sensitivity is a malleable trait. Adolescence is the last and best opportunity to significantly lower the sensitivity one has to anxiety. The good news is that adolescence (transition to adulthood) starts at around 12 and ends during the mid 20’s so there’s plenty of time : )
- Anxiety feeds on control and certainty. Overcoming anxiety involves tolerating uncertainty and gray. You can help by increasing your child’s problem solving and self-reflection skills.
- Anxiety is an important and essential system. Due to a combination of genetics, environment and massive changes happening in their brain, adolescents typically have a much harder time coping and navigating it than children or adults.
- Anxiety is contagious. As a parent, when your child gets anxious, notice when you start to feel more anxious in response. The more anxious we are, the more likely we are to be controlling, inflexible or enabling. This in turn, fosters more anxiety in our kids.
If you found any of this helpful and you’d like much much more. Please come to my workshop next week. It’s geared specifically for parents with teens and preteens. There’s already a large turnout for this one, so please know that you’re definitely not alone in your struggles. Click here for more info. and to register.