3 Ways to Support Your Anxious Teenager






1.) Listen, listen, listen..... and listen again


Your ears are probably your greatest ally. What are they trying to communicate to you? What do you notice and observe?


As a Clinical Psychologist, I ALWAYS come back to the fact that every behaviour is a communication.


Thinking about how we, as adults behave when we are anxious can help. You will have noticed that some people go quiet, some get grumpy and some appear angry. Anxiety is primarily a fear response so we react in a way that we thinks keeps us safe.


Of course, boundaries around behaviour is still VERY important. But when we begin to understand, we have greater empathy and it unlocks a new way of communicating with your teen.









2.) Talk about ways you have coped with anxiety


We usually refer to this as parents/caregivers 'modelling' behaviour.


And a caveat - only share what you feel comfortable with, and what you think might benefit your teen.


Perhaps you can remember feeling anxious about exams, friendships, relationships or school? Maybe you have recently given a presentation, or been to a job interview?


We all appreciate knowing that we have similar struggles to each other. While it might feel counter-productive to share your own struggles, it can have real impact.


Teens sometimes idolise their parents/caregivers. They sometimes develop the belief that they must be infallible.


When you share your experiences, you can inspire and validate their feelings.








3.) Spend time with them (even if they don't seem fussed)


My work with teenagers has taught me something important - teenagers DO like spending time with parents (sometimes).


Like all of us we need our own space, and we are entitled to that (If they object to your presence, we must listen to that of course).


When I say spending time, I mean even in very short chunks - anything from 5 minutes.


Even when teenagers appear to be engrossed in a digital device or the TV, they still (generally) want to be noticed and thought about.


Some teenagers have told me that even when they are in fact engrossed in a task, or they don't feel like talking, they still like company. Even silent company. Sometimes silent company is the best kind.


We communicate a lot without speaking, so we don't always have to.







Thanks for reading,

Elaine












75 views0 comments