Finding a natural treatment for anxiety in teenager and pre-tween kids is an essential step to helping your children manage their mental health, but it’s only part of the solution. Kids of all ages need a strong support system to help them through the rough process of growing up, and adolescents especially need a trusted adult to guide them. Fortunately, parents can provide this support through effective communication. To forge a strong bond with your teen, follow these communication tips.
Active listening may seem simple, but it requires your full attention. As a parent, this is easier said than done; between household chores and other obligations, it’s tempting to multitask while your children talk to you. However, this approach to listening can make kids feel like they’re not important.
In contrast, active listening makes teens feel heard and helps parents process what they’re trying to say — including the sensitive subjects they may only hit at. To improve your active listening, practice these skills:
- Paraphrase to verify that you understand what your kid just said.
- Put away your phone, tablet or anything else that might distract you.
- Don’t formulate a response until your teen has finished talking.
Take Empathetic Approach
Even if your teens take OTC anxiety meds, they may still occasionally experience panic attacks and other anxiety symptoms. When this occurs, it’s crucial to respond in an empathetic way. While anxiety can be inconvenient and even frustrating for those on the outside, people struggling with the condition don’t mean to cause issues. Additionally, they may feel just as frustrated with themselves for being unable to “get over it.”
Communicating empathetically validates your teens’ experiences, letting them know you see their challenges and don’t blame them for minor inconveniences. When teens feel heard, they’re more likely to come to you when they need help. To demonstrate empathy, incorporate these habits into your communication style:
- Invite your children to talk about their days.
- Make eye contact.
- Ask questions.
Explain Your Reasoning
Teens often push back against authority; it’s a normal part of development and doesn’t necessarily mean your kid is heading down the wrong path. Instead, adolescents want to find their own way, and doing so is essential to becoming an independent adult who can make good decisions. Of course, teenagers still need guidance from their parents since their brains are still developing. How can you balance these conflicting needs?
A good approach is to explain the reasoning behind your rules. For example, if you set a curfew, lay out the factors that guided your decision:
- Your teen is still a new driver and not yet used to driving late.
- Your municipality has laws restricting how late minors can be out.
- You’re worried about your child falling asleep at the wheel.
Explaining your thought process helps your kids in their own decision-making.
Communicating openly and often helps kids feel stable and comfortable with their parents. As a result, you’ll have more opportunities to ask what your teens think and whether they need specific support. You’ll also be more tuned into their behavior, allowing you to more readily identify 5 year old ADHD signs or symptoms of anxiety in preteens.