Anxiety among adolescents is more common than ever before. Helping your teen manage their anxiety effectively can be like walking a tightrope. Finding the line between being truly supportive and leaving your teen feeling neglected or contributing to their anxiety levels can be very difficult. Parents can be supportive without contributing further to their child’s anxiety by finding ways to help their teens manage their anxiety in tangible, healthy ways.
Balancing Emotional Independence and Support
Finding balance in parenting is always a challenge. The desire to allow children adequate space and opportunities to develop independence while still offering appropriate physical and emotional support becomes increasingly complicated when your teen has an anxiety disorder.
On the one hand, the nearer they are to adulthood, the more emotional independence they need. On the other hand, anxiety also carries risks such as depression and suicide that parents need to be able to responsibly monitor, as the adolescent brain does not develop fully until the age of 25. Finding healthy, tangible ways to offer support can help parents find this balance.
Offering Access to Therapy
One of the most obvious ways parents can support their teens with anxiety is to offer access to therapy. Providing medical coverage, covering out-of-pocket costs, and providing transportation to therapist appointments is a very real, tangible way to support your teen.
Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) is one of the most effective treatments for anxiety disorders. Providing access to a licensed therapist that offers CBT is one of the best ways to help your adolescent with anxiety. Involving your teen in choosing a therapist and scheduling appointments increases their independence while offering the physical support of finances and transportation is an appropriate parental intervention.
Creating a Tradition of Family Walks
Exercise, such as being outdoors and walking, is another helpful tool in managing anxiety. However, many teens struggle to find the motivation to go walking on their own. Parents can offer support by creating a tradition of going for walks together as a family. Whether the walks are in the morning, before or after dinner, or even just on the weekends, they are a physically and emotionally healthy tradition to create for the entire family.
Walking as a family not only helps support your teen’s management of their anxiety but also gives families the opportunity to talk and bond. In addition to the emotional and physical benefits for all family members, memories are created, and the time spent together as a family is an investment that pays dividends now and in the future.
Supporting Your Teen With Mind and Body Wellness
Using mind and body wellness techniques as a family can help your teen manage their anxiety more effectively. According to a 2018 survey published by the National Institutes of Health (NIH), the use of meditation and yoga by both children and adults has increased significantly in recent years. The increase in popularity is not just a fad; both children and adults find meditation and yoga to be helpful in stress reduction and improved quality of life.
In 2020, the NIH published an article entitled Yoga for Health: What Science Says. The article cites recommendations by the American Academy of Pediatrics for the use of yoga by children and adolescents and lists research supporting positive benefits. The article references various studies that indicate that children and teens who practice yoga indicate reduced anxiety. Additionally, the article lists many benefits of yoga for adults, a few of which include:
- Stress management
- Positive mental health
- Health habits
- Weight control
- Smoking cessation
- Pain management
- Managing chronic health conditions
- Lessening anxiety and depression
- Sleep improvement
Introducing meditation or yoga as family activities can offer your family many benefits to emotional and physical well-being while specifically offering support for your teen with anxiety. By doing these activities as a family, you are not singling your teen or their anxiety out as a problem but rather offering positive health solutions for the entire family.
Being Your Child’s Calm in the Storm
Another important role parents can have in the lives of their teens with anxiety is simply to be their child’s calm in the storms of their life. Parents can just be there, be available to their teen, and be a calm and consistent presence for them. There is no particular need to say or do anything specific other than to be consistent in your expectations and be a quiet but constant presence for your child. For children who live with constant anxiety, having parents who balance them with peace, calm, and consistency can be a tremendous shelter for them in the personal storms of their lives.
Helping your teen manage their anxiety can feel like you are constantly walking on a tightrope, but parents can be the calm in the storm for their child. Offering tangible, healthy solutions for teens, such as access to therapy, creating family activities to do together such as walking, or mind and body wellness activities like meditation and yoga can give teens the support they need while still offering emotional independence. At Sustain Recovery, we believe in fostering emotional independence for teens through treatment for addiction and mental health diagnoses. Our facility, located in Irvine, California, offers extended residential treatment for adolescents, which helps them to successfully transition back home. We help teens to access support in their community to increase their opportunities for long-term recovery. Call us at (949) 407-9052 to find out if our treatment program is right for you and your family.