Three Ongoing Ways Parents Can Help Manage A Teen's Anxiety Disorder
Watching your child suffer with anxiety can be so difficult as a parent. You want to be able to help them relax and take life as it comes, but nothing you do seems to completely ease their worries. It's important to remember that managing your teen's anxiety is a long, uphill battle, not a one-off fight. Here are some ways you can help manage your teen's anxiety disorder with ongoing support and assistance.
Make sure they're comfortable at their current school.
Attending school is important for all teens -- even those with anxiety disorders. But it's important to ensure your teen is as comfortable as possible at the school he or she is currently attending. Large public schools can make anxiety worse for many teens as there are so many people to worry about and so many different spaces to navigate. If your teen expresses that his or her anxiety is worse in the school environment, you may want to look into specialty schools for teens, like the BraveHeart Teen Program.
There are many smaller, private schools that offer a quieter, calmer learning environment where a teen with anxiety may thrive. Not only will your teen feel less anxious during the day at a smaller school, but this lessened anxiousness will also allow them to better focus on their academics, which bodes well for their future. The transition to college will be easier -- and that will mean less anxiety at this later stage, too.
Find a good therapist.
You're probably well aware that talking about a problem often makes it feel better. While you may want to be your teen's number one confidant, there are a lot of things teens just are not comfortable talking to their parents about -- like dating and social issues. Finding your teen a good therapist to talk to is one of the best ongoing things you can do to help manage their anxiety. Accept that there will be things they're willing to share with the therapist that they may not share with you. Being able to express these feelings and have someone listen will go a long way towards reducing their anxiety, and a good therapist will also teach them strategies for managing anxiety when it's at its worst.
Be willing to modify your expectations.
When your teen feels particularly anxious, he or she may be unable to meet your normal expectations. This inability to meet expectations just makes the anxiety worse, and suddenly, your teen is caught in an endless cycle. To prevent this sort of cycle, make sure your teen knows that you will let expectations slide sometimes when anxiety is getting the best of them. If you know they've been feeling anxious and they have not cleaned their room or gotten the best grade on a test, just let it go.