Tips On How To Help Teens Manage Anxiety And Stress

Category: Play Therapy

Recent research on teen anxiety has shown that teens are feeling more anxious than ever before.  Over the last decade, researchers have found that teens are dealing with anxiety at double the rate it was experienced just a decade ago.  The cause of anxiety in teens is not fully understood but heightened levels of anxiety can stem from smaller stressful incidents that lead to anxious feelings if they are not dealt with.  Over time, if these small stressful situations are not being addressed, they can begin to build up which may cause the teen to become overwhelmed and experience heightened levels of anxiety. Another cause of anxiety in teens is that some are more prone to developing feelings of anxiety based on their personalities.  Other sources of anxiety can include trauma or possible alcohol and drug use.  Three things that can help reduce anxiety in your teen include the following:

  1. Structure.
  2. Having a Strong Attachment Relationship.
  3. Love over Perfection.

Over the past few weeks, many people have been sent home from school and work and are practicing social distancing to contain the Coronavirus.  Many children and adults are now learning and working from home virtually.  These changes were sudden and unexpected and have caused stress for many.  One of the first things parents can do to try and reduce their child’s anxiety is to set up a daily schedule for their children and to stick to it.  Consistency and routine create feelings of ease in people because they know what to expect and what is expected of them. 

            Another crucial area for teens during this developmental stage is for them to have a strong attachment relationship with one of their parents or another trusting adult.  When a teen has a deep emotional bond with a trusting adult, they have someone they can turn to for emotional support and can trust to talk to about difficult issues. It is essential that teens feel loved and supported in this relationship to help build their confidence and to help them feel competent and resourceful.  Once a teen feels they have the resources needed to master difficult obstacles in their life, their anxiety is often reduced. 

            It is essential that parents do not expect perfection from their teens.  Often when a parent urges their child to do better and try harder, it can lead to feelings of inadequacy which can lead to anxious feelings.  The teen may feel that no matter how hard they try their efforts are not good enough.  They can internalize these feelings which may lead to heightened levels of anxiety.  It is important to remind teens that everyone makes mistakes and that mistakes are part of the learning process.  It is important that your teen does not feel that their self-worth is measured by their academic performance and crucial that they feel loved and supported by you.

By Amber Sanner, MS, LMFT