The latest news on anxiety in adolescence comes from The US Preventive Services Task Force which is currently considering a final recommendation that all children aged 8 to 18, be evaluated for anxiety. Having earlier evaluation would aim to identify anxiety issues, put in place recommended interventions for specific age groups, and help prevent anxiety issues in the future.
This is the first proposal for using screening tools to detect children and adolescents who may have anxiety or depression. If implemented, the screening would be done along with regular physical checkups and trends toward anxiety would also be recorded as the child ages.
One of the tools researchers note that work well in reducing anxiety is more open communication between parents and children. There are simple ways to help your adolescent or teen reduce anxiety that simply involve listening, acknowledging feelings, and talking with your child.
By putting these tips in place on a regular basis your child will feel more inclined to share their feelings and their day-to-day anxieties.
1. Take time each day to encourage your teen or adolescent to tell you about their day. Use questions that can be answered beyond a yes or no. For instance, “What was something good that happened today?” or “What was your favorite part of the day today?”
You can also ask them if they had a difficult day or a sad time at school? Make sure you’re listening with empathy, and they understand they have time to talk freely. These conversations can happen each day without a rigorous schedule, in fact, if you integrate them easily into the day your child will feel more at ease with the conversation. Some parents find that asking these questions on the ride home from school are valuable, or while the child is doing daily chores or dishes or helping with dinnertime. During these conversations focus on hearing what the child is saying and not how you might fix it. Let them share freely, listen, and make sure they know you are there to support them.
2. Help underscore their coping skills and what they are doing to help themselves.
If your child is experiencing or expressing anxiety help them remember to use coping techniques, like deep breathing, or taking a walk to help lessen anxiousness (even on the playground). Talk to them about counting their breaths from 1 to 10, for a small break from the anxiety. Reassure your child or teen that anxiety is common and a normal part of life and using small interventions can help lessen the anxiety. Reflect back to your child the coping skills they are already using and underscore how powerful and kind those are to continue using.
3. Art, Sleep and Exercise
Encouraging your adolescent to explore their anxiety through art is also an optimal way to reduce their anxiety. Doing art with your child at home is also helpful as it can provide another time for ease in communicating about feelings. Music, dance, and exercise are all good methods for relieving anxiety. According to the American Art Therapy Association, artistic expression may decrease anxiety, feelings of anger and depression. This creative process can also enhance cognitive abilities, foster greater self-awareness, and help students regulate their emotions.
https://commons.emich.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1162&context=mcnair – Art Therapy as an as an Intervention and Its Effects on Anxiety and Depression
https://www.psychreg.org/attentive-listening-teens/ – Active Listening Helps Reduce Anxiety in Teens