For Parents of Anxious Teens
There I was at 12 years old: anxious, depressed and lonely. I had just moved across the country with my family and I was an introvert with social anxiety.
I won't get into all of the details but my anxiety and even suicidal thoughts were terrifying for my parents. I look back and feel such heartache for how we all felt during that difficult time.
This is when I was first prescribed the antidepressant, Prozac, for my social anxiety and depression. It helped take the edge off but I wish we know about natural resources to help me learn about my anxiety and to create tools to use during rough times. I felt like an outcast and my anxiety also contributed to poor appetite, stomach issues, and more health concerns later on.
I talk to parents often about their pre-teens' and teens' emotions and fears. They want to help to take away their anxiety, fear and sadness but they feel overwhelmed and hopeless.
Here are a few ideas I recently sent to a mom. I thought I would share with others who could use a little hope in their homes.
1. Talk it Out
Does your child feel comfortable opening up and talking to you about their emotions? If so, that's great! Show them appreciation for being able to share with you. If not, make sure they have somewhere to open up. So many times teens hold in their emotions and it makes it way worse. This can lead to unhealthy habits and harmful behavior in the future. An aunt, guidance counselor, therapist, or coach may give them encouragement and a safe place to chat about all things going on in their lives. An older and wiser person who is comfortable with these conversations may make a big difference. Don't feel so sad if you aren't the person they open up to. Sometimes they may feel you won't understand because you are the parent and just want them to be safe and happy.
2. Book Recommendations (for you or them if they feel ready to read more about it):
My Anxious Mind: A Teen's Guide to Managing Anxiety and Panic
Food Mood Solution
Potatoes Not Prozac
You Can Heal Your Life
Journal for them to write in daily
"We also call this Monster Meditation because of how you look when you put your hands on your face as described below. Sit up tall (most children find it most comfortable to sit with their knees tucked to their chest because they can then rest their elbows on their knees) or lie down on your back and cover your sense organs with your fingers in the following way:
Place your thumbs in your ears so that you won’t be able to hear anything, place your index fingers gently on your eyelids, place the middle fingers on your nose, the next set of fingers above your lips, and your little fingers under your lips.
Keep your elbows down and shoulders relaxed.
Start breathing deeply, deep enough so that you’ll hear your breath very loudly inside your head. After about ten deep breaths, gradually make your breath so quiet and unnoticeable that you don’t hear it any more.
Now, start listening to sounds by your right ear, and as you listen, bring your attention to subtler and subtler sounds. Sounds that are hiding under the sounds that you already hear… go deeper and deeper within in this way.
Stay here for another few minutes before releasing your hands.
When done, keep your eyes closed and enjoy the affect of this wonderful exercise for a few more gentle breaths."
4. Sensory Items
I highly recommend essential oils, stress balls, bath products, and other items that allow them to use their senses. When they use their senses such as scent and touch, they learn to breathe more deeply and stay present.
My new HOPE Spray is a simple tool they can carry with them and use whenever they feel anxiety coming up. It incorporates lavender and sage, which will help to promote peace and positivity.
This can get pricey but it may be worth checking your insurance and/or looking for community acupuncture. Acupuncture is very relaxing and also helps with blood flow, helping the entire body and mind find a sense of balance. The anxiety may be linked to other concerns such as lyme disease, ADHD, digestive issues, hormonal issues, etc. and a good acupuncturist will help to get to the root cause.
5. Food & Supplements
Many people don't realize that a child's brain isn't even fully developed until at least 18 years old.
It isn't always easy for your child to be eating enough fruit, vegetables, proteins and other important whole foods that give their body and mind important nutrients so I do recommend high-quality supplements. I recommend at least a multivitamin and then adding in B-complex, omega-3 fish oil and probiotics. (I recommend Shaklee products. Contact me for details)
Our brains are made of mostly fat so it is super important to incorporate healthy fats consistently such as avocado, coconut oil, walnuts and organic butter.
Have them eat as many leafy greens, grass-fed meat, organic eggs, nuts and other whole food as much as possible. Help them to experiment with smoothie recipes like this one:
6. Exercise & Water
Is your child actively involved in a sport or playing in nature? Too many kids are spending time indoors in front of a screen and not moving their bodies enough. Movement is important since it will release endorphins, helping them to feel good, build confidence and energy. Team sports, dance, biking, yoga, and swimming are all beneficial to the body and mind. Help them to find something they enjoy doing a few times a week. Making sure they drink water daily is also essential. Many teens are dehydrated and don't feel good in their bodies. Have them try mint and strawberry infused water and other naturally flavored water to start. Keep them away from sugar and caffeine as much as possible since that will contribute to more anxious feelings.
I am here as a resource if you need to chat or would like a coach if your child is ready to do the work. I offer complimentary heartache to hope sessions. You can learn more at: