6 Steps to Supporting Adolescent Anxiety
According to Youth Beyond Blue statistics, approximately 1 in 14 young people are diagnosed with anxiety at a clinical level (Youth Beyond Blue, 2015). Anxiety is a physiological response that has evolved to keep us safe (characterised by the flight/fight response) and is common and adaptive. It becomes a problem when it starts to interfere with a person’s daily life and affects regular participation in academic, social, co-curricular and family activities. Anxiety maintains itself by feeding off avoidant behaviours and tiring us out. There are a range of things parents can do to support their daughter who may be having difficulty managing her anxiety:
- Validate and acknowledge what they are going through: This is KEY! Active listening and finding a way to chat with your daughter about her anxiety will help her feel supported. Telling your daughter to calm down unfortunately isn’t going to have much of an effect. Spending quality time and making routines for the week by working together with your child/adolescent. “What makes something better is connection” – Brene Brown.
- Avoid avoidance: Encourage your daughter to take small steps towards facing her fears. Avoidance maintains anxiety triggers and can also generalise it across multiple situations.
- Build self-confidence: It is easy to fall into the trap of constantly noticing when your daughter is struggling with managing their anxiety. It’s so important to praise them for their accomplishments and facing their fears. Find activities they can participate in that instill a sense of belonging.
- Avoid giving excessive reassurance: Giving constant reassurance prevents your daughter from learning how to cope on their own. Model how you think through problems or challenges.
- Modelling stress management: If you’re not taking a small amount of time out for yourselves each day or setting some time to relax (take a walk, meditate), adolescents won’t see the importance of doing that for themselves.
- Seek professional support: Speak to a GP or one of the School Psychologists about further support for your daughter in order for her to build strategies to cope with anxiety triggers and cope more effectively with life’s demands.Eloise Conrad and Natalie Morgan
Stuartholme School Psychologists
Further information can be found through the following links: