Anxiety: How to help your child or teen

So many of my child or teen clients tell me they have anxiety. Their parents when they phone to chat with me also tell me they have anxiety and, indeed, anxiety is a term we all think we understand don't we? 


Anxiety is not the same for everyone

  • What does it actually mean and is everyone's anxiety the same? 
  • Do they experience anxiety in every potentially anxious moment
  • And do they experience it every time? 
  • Are they an anxious person, or do they experience anxiety sometimes, often, or  always? 
  • Does it depend on the teacher, the lesson, the time of day, whether they have eaten or not, whether they've slept, whether their friend is at school that day, what they have in their lunch box, what's going on on their Snapchat? 
  • When are they not anxious?
  • What do they feel when they are not anxious? 

This is how we know anxiety is not the same for everyone because the words they will use for their 'not anxious' state will be different; 'confident', 'calm', 'brave', 'cool', 'happy', etc.

The trouble is that they focus so much on being anxious, as do parents, that they actually don't notice when they are not anxious. 

Do you as a parent worry all day about how they are and have a worried face when you see them, asking "How was your day?" expecting bad news? They aren't going to tell you how well it's gone, are they? You are leading them into a conversation about how bad it was. Instead, try asking "What went well today?" And hold an expectation that something, however small, may have made them laugh or feel good during the day. 

What we focus on is what we get more of. Focus on when they are that word they'd use for the absence of anxious thoughts and feelings. 

Lots of parents ask their kids "Why are you anxious?" or "What has made you anxious?" instead, think about a different question such as " What happened just before you felt anxious?"  or "In that moment, what did you think?" 

The thoughts that precede anxiety can be interesting. Listen out for the "I thought..." or "I felt....." because 'anxiety' is a global term covering so many different thoughts and feelings. When we can narrow it down to a specific fear of something happening, we are better able to consider what other choices we have and, when we have choices, this feels more positive. 

As a parent, you could ask them "What other choices did you have in that moment?" "What else could you have done?" or "What could you do differently next time?" Trust that they will have the answer. When we try to fix it all for them and, believe me, I know how tempting this is as a loving mum, it actually makes them feel worse because it seems like you have the answer and they don't. This is not likely to help them build confidence, so show them that you believe in them and that they do have the answers. 

The views expressed in this article are those of the author. All articles published on Life Coach Directory are reviewed by our editorial team.

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Slough SL1 & Hove BN3
Written by Judy Bartkowiak, Energy Healer - low self esteem, anger, anxiety in families.
Slough SL1 & Hove BN3

Judy Bartkowiak is an NLP & EFT Trainer and Therapist working with children, teens and parents with anxiety and low self-esteem.

Contact Judy for training as an NLP Kids Practitioner.

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