Parenting tips 14: How to help your teen with anxiety, and how to set rules that your teens will follow.

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The anxiety epidemic:
In 2020 the UK charity Mental Health Foundation surveyed more than 2,000 children and found 50 per cent of teenagers aged 13-19 were experiencing anxiety they found hard to control.
Suggested books:

· The Anxiety Workbook for Teens: Activities to Help You Deal with Anxiety and Worry

· Breaking free from Childhood Anxiety and OCD, Eli Lebowitz.

Key points taken from UNWINDING ANXIETY: by Judson Brewer
Mindfulness is a key tool:
'If you feel anxious it’s an uncomfortable feeling so you start worrying about it. Worrying is seductive because it makes you feel like you’re doing something to get to a solution. All it does is to distract you from the negative emotion. It temporarily numbs the difficult feelings and feels more rewarding to your brain than the original emotion.'
'If your brain learns that worrying provides temporary relief, then whenever you’re anxious your brain will trigger worry. It becomes a compulsive habit over which you have no control, but the worrying makes you feel more anxious.'
· The first step to understanding your own anxiety is simply mapping your own habit loops/ What kind of situations trigger anxiety or other difficult feelings?
· Which behaviours has your brain learned to respond as a way to soothe or distract you?
· What is the result of those behaviours?'
When you get into an anxiety loop use:

RAIN:

  • Recognise difficult feelings.
  • Accept them and allow them to be there.
  • Investigate the sensations in your body and emotions bubbling up.
  • Note what’s going on, and simply observe yourself out of curiosity.

Resources:

https://www.nytimes.com/2022/04/23/health/mental-health-crisis-teens.html
https://www.forbes.com/sites/williamhaseltine/2021/08/25/depression-and-anxiety-double-in-youth-compared-to-pre-pandemic/?sh=22e0bfb2139f
https://www.thetimes.co.uk/article/feeling-anxious-dont-worry-its-good-for-you-s70jvtdbx
https://childmind.org/article/signs-of-anxiety-in-teenagers/

RULES FROM:
https://www.verywellfamily.com/establishing-house-rules-for-teenagers-1094873

Rules That Promote Safety
· Driving – car accidents are the number one killer of teens. Establish clear rules about phone use in the car, passengers, speeding, etc.
· Drugs/alcohol – talk often about making good choices and consequences. Talk about ways they can get out of a bad situation.
Rules That Teach Morality

· Honesty – set consequences that will be more severe for lying or covering up. Also rules about cheating on their homework.
· Treating others respectfully. Rules about gossiping, bullying and talking back.
Rules That Encourage Healthy Habits

· Work – establishing homework times and family contributions gives them a sense of responsibility.
· Self care – healthy eating, good sleep habits, exercise and good hygiene.
Rules That Prep Teens for the Real World

· Money – managing money, allowance.
· Self discipline – they need some freedom so that natural consequences

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