September 17, 2019
How to Help Your Child Manage Their Anxiety This School Year
Does your teen struggle with anxiety during the school year? If you look at Google Trends, a tool where you can analyze certain terms people search for on Google, you’ll see that this is quite common. For example, check out this chart for the term “teen anxiety”.
As you may notice, the lowest points for popularity of this term occur when school is typically out—Christmas and summer breaks. The highest points are in October, mid-December, late February/early March, and late April/early May. It’s only speculation, but it’s interesting that these highs seem to appear when students are typically doing midterms or finals testing.
We’re not saying that school or testing are necessarily the cause for anxiety—only that anxiety seems to be a hot topic among teens during the school year. To parents who are concerned about your child’s anxiety issues, here are a few things you can do to help your child manage their anxiety this school year.
4 Ways to Help Your Child Manage Anxiety
1. Know the Signs
The first step to being able to help anybody with their issues is to know and understand the signs. What should you look for? Is your child really anxious? Here are six signs you should look for:
- Emotional changes—is your child feeling irritable, restless or on edge?
- Social changes—does your child avoid people, including friends?
- Physical changes—does your child experience headaches or fatigue?
- Sleep disturbance—is your child having difficulty falling or staying asleep?
- Poor school performance—are your child’s grades decreasing significantly?
- Panic attacks—does your child experience episodes of dizziness or difficulty breathing?
A study done by the National Institute of Mental Health shows that nearly 32 percent of teens ages 13 to 18 have some form of anxiety disorder. If your child seems to be showing signs that they’re having anxiety, sit down with them and talk. Ask them what’s going on, and continue working with them on managing their anxiety.
2. Learn Calming Techniques
There are so many ways to teach teens how to be calm. According to Healthline, mindfulness is a useful technique. It’s all about being present in your current surroundings. There are multiple ways of practicing it but typically you sit still, close your eyes, and think deeply about what’s going on around you. What do you smell? What can you hear? Can you feel anything?
For example, you can sit down on the grassy lawn of a park and close your eyes for a moment. You might be able to smell the grass, hot dogs on the grill, and nearby flowers. You hear the children laughing, swings going back and forth, and the barking of dogs happily running around. You feel the soft grass underneath you, the air on your face, and the sun’s warmth against your skin.
Mindfulness is simply the practice of understanding what is around you and taking it all in little by little. For teens, learning to calm the mind down and taking everything in one thing at a time can be helpful when learning to process anxiety. It also helps them to focus on what is real and going on right now rather than anxious thoughts that may not always be rational.
3. Participate in Physical Activities Regularly
According to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America, exercise not only keeps your body fit but your mind too. This is how:
“When stress affects the brain, with its many nerve connections, the rest of the body feels the impact as well. Or, if your body feels better, so does your mind. Exercise and other physical activity produce endorphins — chemicals in the brain that act as natural painkillers — and also improve the ability to sleep, which in turn reduces stress.”—ADAA
The ADAA also refers to a study that says that those who participate in regular vigorous exercise are 25 percent less likely to have depression or anxiety disorders. Help your child get in the habit of exercising regularly by doing it with them. Here are a few ideas:
- Choose a mud run or other fun 5K you and your child would like to do together and train for it.
- Go on a walk together for 15-20 minutes every day after dinner.
- Spend the day out on the lake kayaking or swimming.
- Take a martial arts trial class, like karate or kickboxing.
Exercising together is also a good way for you and your teen to work on your parent-child relationship. During this time, be open to conversation and let your child know you’re there to support them in their journey to overcome their anxiety.
4. Focus on Nourishment
Did you know that the food your child eats could be impacting their anxiety levels? Health.com lists out nine different foods we should be eating to reduce our anxiety. These are:
- Turkey Salmon
- Dark Chocolate
- Citrus Fruits
Due to their individual nutritional properties, each of these foods is thought to be beneficial for mental health. For example, green tea has theanine which has anti-anxiety and calming effects. Try to include more of these foods in your child’s meals and see if it affects them over time. Consult a certified nutritionist if you have any questions regarding your teen’s diet.
Did You Know Anxious Teens May Also Struggle with…
Although many teens struggle with anxiety, your teen’s anxiety could actually be a symptom of other issues and mental health disorders. If their anxiety seems to be getting out of control, take your child to see a licensed therapist to help them figure out what the deeper issue may be. For your reference, anxiety may also be a symptom of the following disorders:
- Adjustment Disorder
- Attachment Disorder
- Eating Disorder
- Sleep Disorder
Turn-About Ranch Can Help!
Use the points above to work with your teen to decrease the amount of anxiety they feel, so they can have a successful school year! Parents, know that your teen doesn’t need to suffer in their anxiety. There is help and hope for them! If your teen is struggling to manage their anxiety, call us at (800) 842-1165. We have decades of experience working with teens who deal with anxiety and know the best ways to approach it. Start the conversation with us today, and we’ll help guide your child in their journey to positive mental health.