This year was going to be different. At least you were hoping it would be.

Your teen is trying yet they’re already feeling anxious, and your stress level is rising remembering how hard last year was, and maybe the year before too.

The arguing, yelling, nagging, reminding – trying to understand why your teen isn’t completing their homework, handing in assignments, or refusing to attend classes. Is it really that hard?

Perception is truth

During adolescence, your teen’s brain becomes more emotionally reactive, and their self-esteem can drop up to 30%. This leaves them more susceptible to anxious thoughts because their intellectual filter isn’t fully developed to help create a more balanced perspective.

The American Psychological Association (APA) defines anxiety as “an emotion characterized by feelings of tension, worried thoughts and physical changes like increased blood pressure.”

Anxiety is normal, and necessary for survival! The brain uses worry triggers as a warning to prevent potentially harmful situations, preparing to flee by sending adrenaline into the blood stream in a ‘fight or flight’ response.

The APA describes a person with anxiety disorder as “having recurring intrusive thoughts or concerns.” Once anxiety reaches this stage, it can interfere with daily function.

So, my teen isn’t being dramatic or lazy?

That mindset is likely creating more conflict and disconnect with your teen. You feel more and more frustrated they aren’t doing what seems so simple and necessary to get ahead in life, and they feel less heard and understood in their mental health challenges, afraid or unable to express what they need.

You wouldn’t ask me to play baseball with a broken arm, or run a marathon with a broken leg, would you? Mental health can’t always be seen on the outside, yet it’s very real on the inside.

Be your teen’s ally

Support and empathy don’t require agreement, just a willingness to believe your teen where they’re at. Here’s my 4 tps to lower anxiety that my son and I both use when we’re feeling emotionally escalated and unregulated.

This is where you come in. Sending this video to your teen and saying, “You should try this”, won’t work, and neither will many of the other helpful strategies you’ve shared. Why?

Because when anxiety is running the show and their intellectual brain is in even a mild state of fight or flight, trying something new feels even scarier and less safe than doing nothing at all.

Lead the way

When you’re willing to use the tools and model new behaviors, you make it safer for your teen to try them too. Create an open invitation for your teen to join in when they feel ready and be open about what you’re doing and what feelings or physical changes you’re noticing.

Consistency is king and patience it’s princess. Let go of thinking you’ll do this exercise a few times and your teen will quickly adopt the new habit as if Bob’s your uncle. Not likely.

Depending on your teen’s level of anxiety this may take time so choose a time of day, a place in your house, and hunker down for the long haul. Your teen may feel more comfortable doing this with you anyway so think of it as a two-fer, self-care and connection at the same time! 

There’s more…

This is just a taste of my top tips for supporting your teen while building trust and connection. Register for my FREE masterclass to learn my 3 pillars for creating an honest, connected relationship that lasts a lifetime, WITHOUT having to be a perfect parent.