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Demystifying Anxiety in Teens: What Parents Need to Know


If you are a parent of a teen, you will most likely know that navigating the teenage years can feel like you're riding a roller coaster blindfolded, right? And when anxiety creeps in, it's like adding an extra loop to that roller coaster. As a counseling psychologist, I've noticed some common misconceptions parents have about anxiety in teens. Let's clear some things up so you can support your kids better.


1. "They're just being dramatic."

It's easy to dismiss intense emotions as drama, especially when they seem out of proportion to the situation. But here's the reality: anxiety is more than just overreacting. It's a real, often overwhelming feeling of fear or worry that can hijack your teen's thoughts and emotions. Imagine feeling like you're constantly on edge or fearing something terrible will happen—pretty exhausting, right?


2. "They should toughen up."

We all want our kids to be resilient, but tough love isn't always the answer. Anxiety isn't a weakness; it's a challenge they're currently facing. Telling your teen to "just get over it" doesn't help—it can make them feel misunderstood or ashamed of their feelings. Instead, encourage open conversations and validate their emotions. Let them know it's okay to feel anxious and that you're there to support them.




3. "They're just going through a phase."

While it's true that adolescence is a time of change, anxiety isn't necessarily something they'll grow out of on their own. Untreated anxiety can impact their schoolwork, relationships, and overall well-being. If you notice persistent signs like excessive worry, avoidance of social situations, or physical symptoms like stomachaches or headaches, it's worth seeking professional help.


4. "They're just stressed about school."

School pressures can definitely contribute to anxiety, but it's often not the only factor. Teens today face a myriad of stressors—from social media comparisons to uncertainty about the future—and these can all play a role in anxiety. Understanding what specifically triggers your teen's anxiety can help you provide targeted support.


5. "They need to tough it out, like I did."

Comparing your own experiences to your teen's can be tricky. Remember, every person and situation is different. What worked for you might not work for them. Instead of urging them to tough it out, help them develop healthy coping strategies. Encourage activities like exercise, mindfulness, or creative outlets that can help manage anxiety in a positive way.


6. "I don't want to make it worse by talking about it."

It's natural to worry that bringing up anxiety will make things worse, but silence isn't the answer. Your teen needs to know they can talk to you about anything without judgment. Create a safe space for them to open up, and listen actively. Sometimes just knowing they're not alone can provide immense relief.


7. "Therapy is for serious problems."

Therapy isn't just for crises—it's a valuable tool for managing anxiety and building resilience. A qualified therapist can help your teen learn coping skills, challenge negative thought patterns, and explore underlying issues contributing to their anxiety. It's not about fixing something that's broken; it's about equipping them with tools to navigate life's challenges.


Would you like to learn more about how you can support your teen as they navigate through an experience of anxiety? I have recently created FREE parent guide on this exact topic! Click here for free access to this amazing resource. Your child deserves all the support they can get during this time, so don't hesitate to reach out if I can support you and your child, too!


Take care,

Megan


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