Teenagers are overwhelmed with emotions that they don’t understand. Uncertainty and insecurity plague them. Add to their struggles a daily dose of social, sexual, and academic tension, and in a single day, teenagers may experience euphoria, crushing hurt, overwhelming anxiety, or deep despair. No wonder teenagers don’t want to get out of bed.
If you sense your teenager is anxious, take extra care not to drive up their anxiety by becoming reactive and punitive. Instead, consider one of these five approaches to lowering anxiety in your teenager.
Model the behaviors you want to see: Self-mastery is the key to effective parenting. Do your best to model restraint and keep communication flowing. For example, losing it over an unmade bed, at the cost of damaging your relationship, isn’t worth it.
De-escalate conflicts: Teens are impulsive and reactive—adults shouldn’t be. Step away from conflict when it gets heated, take a breather, and chill out. When you come back, try to address the core feelings driving the conflict rather than repeating a reactive loop.
Hold family meetings: Frequently, parents discuss thorny subjects at the worst time, such as in the middle of an argument or when everyone is exhausted from a long day. Don’t wait for a problem to emerge to address it. Have a family meeting, take the time to show appreciation for what your kid does well, and ease your way into any thorny subjects you want to address.
Maintain structure, limits, and boundaries: Structure soothes anxiety. Routines such as family dinners, bedtimes, curfews, etc., help teenagers to feel safe and cared for. It’s okay to be flexible, but without consistency, teens soon go off the rails.
Tech detox as a family: Put down your phone, store the laptop, take a break from social media. Compulsive technology use is a growing problem with enormous emotional consequences. Look for creative outlets that are self-soothing, such as music, art, or exercise.