Ep 10: Help Teens Cope with Anxiety
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Karen Young, founder of the immensely popular psychology blog “Hey Sigmund” talks about how to help teens with anxiety. It starts with listening and not trying to convince them that their feelings are “no big deal”. Then we should teach them about anxiety and how to cope with it.
Full Show Notes
We all experience some level of anxiety but for 1 out of every 8 kids it is a serious struggle. An uneasy feeling in their stomach on the way to school. A pounding heartbeat as they sit down for an exam. Sweaty hands when they’re asked to speak up in front of their peers.
What can parents do to help teens cope with anxiety?
This week on the podcast I got some incredible insights from Karen Young. Karen spent years working as a therapist and helping families and individuals cope with anxiety. Now she runs the immensely popular website, www.heysigmund.com, where her articles have been read by millions of parents and teenagers around the world.
Karen said that we need to start by listening to our teens and not trying to convince them that they will be OK or that their feelings are “no big deal”. Then we should teach them about why they are feeling anxious by explaining how anxiety works.
Finally, we can help teens learn strategies for coping with the anxiety.
This sequence is crucial, Karen stressed. Don’t start offering solutions until you have given teens information. They need to know why the solutions work.
In this episode Karen lays out exactly how to do this with a teen in your life.
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1. When your teenager is feeling anxious
“Does it feel like that feeling you get when you miss a stair? Or like when you’re falling asleep and you jump awake? You’ve got this thing called anxiety. And everybody gets it and some people get it more than others. The first thing to understand is that anxiety is actually there to help us. It’s like an early warning signal that there might be trouble that we need to get ourselves in position to deal with. It started to get us away from physical threats because those were the only ones that faced us way back when. The problem now is the threats are generally psychological. If there’s a basketball coming at your head, anxiety is great because it surges us with a cocktail of chemicals to get us ready for action.”
2. Get your teen to give meditation a try:
3. When your teen confides in you:
4. Make your teen feel comfortable opening up in the future:
5. After your teen tried to tell you something and you didn’t listen:
6. When your teen tells you something deep:
7. Later in the day after your teen told you something deep during the day:
About Karen Young
Founder of the popular psychology website Hey Sigmund and author of the humorous and insightful children’s book Hey Warrior, Karen Young has worked as a psychologist in private practice, a consultant in organisational settings, and a lecturer.
Karen is a regular contributor to Parenting Magazine in New Zealand and her articles have been translated into a number of languages and published on various international sites including The Good Men Project, The Huffington Post, The Mighty, and Yahoo Health.
She has two children and two stepchildren and lives in Australia.
For more about helping teens with anxiety, check out this great article on Karen’s website.