I know for some of you parents out there it is worrisome to see your teen consumed with their own thoughts & not sharing with you about what is going on in their lives. You have noticed changes in them—they are more withdrawn, they do not want to leave the house or stay overnight friend’s house, they seem to be fearful of the future or safety and they worry all of the time about things they cannot control. These are likely indicators that your teen is struggling with anxiety. According to the National Institutes of Health, nearly 1 in 3 of all adolescents ages 13 to 18 will experience an anxiety disorder. These numbers have been rising steadily; between 2007 and 2012, anxiety disorders in children and teens went up 20%. That is considerable over that time frame and the projection is to continue to climb as we are halfway into 2020.
What can you do as a parent? It may seem impossible to give them what they need right now because they do not necessarily know what they need. Giving them guidance can be tricky at their age, especially if they like to think of themselves as independent. But right now, they are vulnerable and need that loving hand. Talk to them. Ask them if they need anything from you. Tell them that you may not understand what they are going through but that you want to help because you love them. Let it be known that you want them to be ok and you will do whatever it takes to help them whether it’s getting them into therapy, time with a friend or just time to watch a movie with you. Get them engaged with you in dialogue to open the lines of communication—you must meet them where they are and not where you think they should be. Remember that. Join them and allow them to see you as an anchor to their drifting boat that will bring comfort and safety. Strengthen your relationship with them by talking WITH them, not TO them. It will make all the difference in the world!
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