How To Help A Teenager With Anxiety

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Vicki, we've had a lot of parents asking us how to help a teenager with anxiety.

So, let's jump into that today. We've done a number of videos about anxiety and

what causes it. The short version, your brain loves you. It's true. -It's true. -Your

brain does not want you to be in danger or to experience any kind of threat

because well that wouldn't be good for your brain. -Right. -And so it tries to take

care of you. And the way that it does that is through the fight-or-flight response.

This fight-or-flight response is what we subjectively experience as anxiety.

It's where the feelings come from. This is a normal thing that your brain does.

And it happens to everybody. Kids, teenagers, adults, everybody has this

mechanism built-in. -Right. -So, maybe the first thing is let's normalize the

experience a little bit. -Yeah. We need to open up the lines of communication with

our teenager and help them see that this is pretty normal. There's a lot of people

who are dealing with anxiety. A lot of the times people feel really isolated.

"I'm the only one that this is affecting". -Yes. -I mean today, I even had a 5th grader

who was pulled out of school because of the anxiety has become too difficult to

go to school right now. -You know, when they get to my office, usually mom or dad

drags them in here, kicking and screaming. Anyway, when they get to my office, they

feel weird. -Yeah. -They feel a little crazy. -And different than everybody else.

-Everybody experiences anxiety. -You know and I think that's really key is to help

them understand that everybody has anxiety. They deal with it at some

point or another. Now, the way that they may deal with it or may react to it is

different. But help your teenagers see that it's normal to feel some anxiety at

times. -There's a lot of things that you can do for self-care. -Yes. -In fact, we did

a video about self-care for anxiety. you can link to it right up here in this

corner of the screen. Cue that up because that will be good for you to watch as a

parent. But this is also one that you can share with

your teenager. We're trying to help normalize the experience but also I like

to give people kind of the owner's manual to operate the equipment. We have

this amazing brain that is functioning exactly as it's designed to do. When we

understand how it works it puts us in a higher level of control and choice over

that process. -As I mentioned before, we really want to keep the lines of

communication open with our teenagers. Remember, they really want to be heard.

They are adults in blossom and they want to know that what they're going through

and what they're thinking and feeling is validated and real. They want to know

that you know it's real for them. -Vicki, what you're saying here is really key

because developmentally speaking, this is a really important phase when teenagers

are making a transition from childhood to adulthood. And they really want to be

treated more like adults. You can facilitate this by keeping those

lines of communication open. Like you're saying Vicki. And to have a high level

conversation with them. I think for you to say, "Oh, yeah. I get it.

Wow. So, that's what you're experiencing." So, show some empathy. Connect with them

and then you'll be in a position where you can introduce some of these other

resources. Like the video I just shared. -And I think it's important... Sometimes you

might have to introduce some new vocabulary to them to help them talk

about what they're feeling. -Right. -You know, talk about what's going on inside

them help them put the words to it. If that's where they're at. If they're ready

for that kind of coaching and helping. -You know, that's interesting that you

mentioned that, Vicki. Because one of our friends John Skidmore is a psychologist

who focuses on performance. He's just coming out with this new book which I'm

excited to see. But John teaches that instead of the word "anxiety"... Now remember,

this is in the context of performance anxiety. So, if your child is a dancer or in

the band or performer of some kind, the word that he uses is "activated". -Okay.

Explain that a little bit. -Now, isn't that interesting? Because instead of labeling

this feeling that I have as anxiety, which is a reason to not do something, I

label it as activation which is the fuel to do something. -Okay. -And you'll feel

this. Notice when you have something big coming up. Let's say that you have an

interview at work or that you have to speak for a community group or your

church or something's coming up, okay? And you feel something, don't you? If you call

that anxiety, you might be... And it is, okay? I'm not saying that that's wrong. But if

you call it anxiety, you might be more likely to avoid that thing. What if we

call it activation. So, your body is preparing you to do the thing that

you're anticipating. -Right. -As parents, we often want to give advice to our kids.

With anxiety, there's a little bit of a dilemma here. Because they're already

feeling activated. They're already feeling the the energy, those feelings that come

with anxiety. And if you jump in and say, "Well honey, you really need to... Or you

should.." -Yeah. -What does that do to you when I say that? Do you notice that?

It just gives you a little twinge of, "Argh! I'm behind I'm not doing what I should

be doing. This person's trying to give me advice." -Increases that anxious feeling. -It

can. So, we're going to caution you about giving advice unless it specifically

asked for. And you know what? This is a pretty good rule of parenting anyway

because unsolicited advice is hardly ever heeded. So, let's just back up

from the advice giving. -Yeah. We're talking about opening communication and

we're not going to advice. So, one of the things we're going to do is really focus

on the resilience of the child versus rescuing them or helping them get out of

a situation. But find the places that they stuck with something and point that

out and maybe help them explore how they felt. I love the way that you just put

that. Resilience. Rather than rescuing. Look what rescuing

does. Let's just chase that down the psychological rabbit hole for a minute,

okay? When you rescue your child, what message are you sending? -|I don't think

you can handle it." -"I don't think you can handle this". Which is the core belief

behind almost every fear. Dr. Susan Jeffers pointed this out in her book

"Feel the fear and do it anyway". I love that title. The title is probably better

than the whole book. But she also identified in that book this common

belief that's at the root of every fear or anxiety. And that belief is "I can't

handle it." -So, we don't want to be validating that idea in heads.

So, we want to talk about the resilience of the things that they have done or

either in the past or that they're doing even as they're going... You know, really

there's just keeping going. There's going to be something in their day that they're

doing this resilient. -Yes. So, there's plenty of examples that you can build on.

I love this topic because resilience... Actually, it's kind of a buzzword right

now. -Yeah. It is. a-A I apply for speaking engagements and things. A lot of times

what they're looking for is helping their employees or their association

members with resilience. Because life is hard.

Have you noticed? Even that begs a question. Hard compared to what? Right?

We're making a judgment about that. But really when hard things happen, one of

the most adaptive skills that we can develop is resilience. The ability to

just keep moving forward in the face of the challenges that are sure to come.

Parenting is a challenge anyway. And when you add teenagers to the mix, that kind

of changes the game, right? We've got your back on this. We have put together this

amazing group coaching program for parents. Where you want to start is in a

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