Teach your child how to cope with anxiety
With another coming to an end, it is this time of the year anxiety is on the rise, especially with teenagers. It is natural for stress levels to fluctuate though the year, but research has shown as the year comes to an end, anxiety increases for many.
It is this time of the year teenagers are preparing for their final exams and all the hard work ( or lack there of) comes down to the next few weeks. Trying to explain to a teenager that life doesn’t begin and end with exam results may fall on deaf ears, so teaching them to cope with anxiety may be a better way to go.
Parenting anxious children has many challenges and as they get older, they naturally being to move away, demanding independence. There are ways you can lay down the foundation to help your child cope with their anxiety. Some basic preparations are:
- Have an abundance of healthy food available for them to eat.
- Be organised with family/social events ahead of time to reduce they stress levels
- Limit activities for your child
- Remind them often the door is always open to talk about anything
- Help declutter their room as it aids in relaxation
- Remove household chores when you feel anxiety is at its greatest.
By setting a good example to your child, you are giving them the greatest chance of success in trying to cope with anxiety.
Here are 6 simple and easy ways to teach children, teens or young adults to cope with anxiety:
- Eating healthy and getting a suitable amount of sleep is essential. Sugar fixes and caffeine hits are OK but need to be limited as it puts the teenager on a roller coaster of emotions. Having three healthy, nutritious meals a day (BREAKFAST is so important) feeds the brain and increases mental awareness, ideal for memory retention. Staying up all night to study may only result in lack of retention the following day and then panic sets in to stay up all night again to re-learn what was missed during the day.
- Exercise daily. This does not need to be strenuous but 20 -30 minutes of increasing oxygen to the brain through exercising results in increasing attention span and surprisingly raises energy levels. Exercise is a fantastic way to stay calm as exercising releases the happy endorphins int he body.
- Relaxation rejuvenates the soul. We are not meant to be on the go all the time and relaxing is vital to helping decrease the symptoms of anxiety. Choose what works for you and make it a natural part of your every day life. Relaxation needs to be a private thing and sitting infant of the TV or watching YouTube is not really relaxing the mind. Some great ideas for relaxing might me: listening to music quietly with headphones on, lying on your bed with eyes closed in complete silence, walking the dog, riding your bike, painting or drawing a picture, doing yoga, having a warm bath or colouring in a picture. There are so many ways to truly relax.
- Be prepared a head of time & set realistic goals. This area may need more input from parents as some children do not have the skills to think too far into the future. Maybe start with a 2 week plan of everything your teenager needs to achieve and ways this will be possible. Discuss with your child what their ultimate goals are and analyse whether they are realistic or not. If a teenager is setting the bar way too high where is not achievable, anxiety levels will only rise. Baby steps.
- Connecting with others on a regular basis. Spending all your time studying or in front of the computer may have more negative effects than positive. Break the concentration cycle by connecting with your friends and family, face to face, skin to skin. Being social helps elevate symptoms of anxiety and removes the focus from yourself to the people you are with.
- Go offline. There has to be a time in the day where you are offline and cannot be contacted. Teenagers have grown up in an environment where nothing ever stops and there is no such thing as just being with yourself – alone. There needs to be a time where no one can get into their world, even if for a few hours. Disconnecting with the outside world helps develop a stronger relationship with yourself.
Has anxiety played a role in your life or someone you care for?