Approaching your teenager about any sensitive subject can be a challenge for most parents. Lumate’s expert clinicians have developed the following four tips for talking about anxiety with your teen.
Tip #1 – Learn More About Anxiety
The following websites have helpful information about adolescent anxiety:
- The Anxiety Cycle
- Anxiety & Depression Association of America
- Association of Cognitive and Behavioral Therapies
Tip #2 – Think About Timing
Find a time to talk when your teen is calm and ready to listen. It can be hard for teens to be open and direct when they seem overwhelmed, busy, or stressed. Check in and schedule a time to talk.
“I’ve noticed you’ve seemed more stress than usual and that you haven’t been sleeping as well. When would be a good time to talk more about that?”
“I’ve been hearing about anxiety in teens being really high lately and I wanted to check in with you about how you’re feeling. Would now be a good time to talk or should we find a time later?”
Tip #3 – Praise Them for Taking An Initiative to Address Their Anxiety and Start the Conversation
If your child has made efforts to learn more about their anxiety by doing research or taken the step to talk with a school counselor, for instance, let them know you are proud of them for being proactive.
“I am so glad you looked for resources on your own and I know that anxiety is difficult for a lot of kids your age.”
Reference their initiative and validate how they are feeling.
“I was really happy to learn that you took an anxiety quiz to learn more about your anxiety and I understand that, based on the results, you might be experiencing more anxiety than usual. Can we talk more about what you’re feeling? What has it been like for you lately?”
Tip #4 – Follow Their Lead
Let them know that you want to support them however you can and are open to their preferences. Your teen might want you listen to them and hear their concerns rather than skipping to problem solving right away.
“I want to help support you in whatever way you need. Do you have ideas about what would be helpful?”
If they have a difficult time making suggestions, offer some things that you know might be helpful.
“I have some ideas about what might be helpful but I think we can both learn more. Can we do that together?”
For more mild anxiety, there are some tools can be found on-line via websites or through apps for anxiety. For more troublesome anxiety, it can be helpful to work with a qualified mental health professional. See if your teen is open to these various options and, if they are not yet ready to start therapy, revisit the conversation as needed if it seems like their anxiety is increasing or getting in the way more over time.