Teenagers often deal with anxiety about school and relationships, but sometimes this anxiety goes beyond the regular teenage “growing pains”. Recognizing what is fueling their fears is the first step to helping teenagers manage their stress and anxiety, and then you can provide them with the tools to feel empowered and in control.
The first step for managing a teen’s anxiety should always be getting professional help. You can see a counselor, a pediatrician or a psychologist to ensure that your child is getting all of the help and he/she needs. This could just be a matter of having a safe environment to share their fears or it could mean they require additional help, like medication. Teaching your teenagers to seek help when they need it can be a valuable tool for them through life.
Once you have their overall health managed, you can deal with the anxiety triggers. My 14 year old was feeling a great deal of anxiety about her future. Having just entered grade 9, she felt that she should know what she wants to do with her life, and she doesn’t.
News flash to all of the kids out there… many adults don’t know what they want to do with their lives. Career changes are common these days and there are incredibly successful people out there who didn’t find their niche until later in life. Hello Stan Lee, Vera Wang and Alan Rickman!
Telling a kid that they they don’t need to worry isn’t very helpful most of the time, so while we still went down that road, I knew it wasn’t enough. From there I taught my daughter about vision boards and how they can help you focus on what you enjoy, which can lead to figuring out what your goals are. Once you have some goals in mind, you can make a plan.
I created some simple goal sheets to help my kids work through their goals, and I’ve made them available on my site. Here is an example of how a goal sheet can work.
In this case, the goal is “university” with no choice of subject yet. We know that in order to go to university one needs a high school diploma, decent grades, money and in some cases, scholarships. These are listed under “resources” to indicate what resources are needed.
Everyone has a tribe or a support circle who will help them to achieve their goals. In this case, the tribe consists of teachers, parents and close friends. These are the people who know what your goals are and who are accepting responsibility to help you achieve them.
Next you choose what the first step is. To go to university, you need to graduate high school with good grades. Then break that down further by listing what you can do each day, week, month and year to ensure that step happens. Then continue that process through each of the steps. It is also important to re-evaluate the goal sheet regularly because the steps can change.
This type of goal setting helps kids feel that they are in control of their futures. Breaking the goals down into smaller steps and time increments can make them feel more manageable, and it helps kids see how their daily actions can impact the big picture.