Here are 7 strategies to help your pre-teen beat anxiety
Feelings of panic, dread and fear. Shallow breaths, sweaty palms and tightening of the chest. These are some of the manifestations of anxiety which are more and more common in our pre-teens. In fact, 1 in 10 young people experience a mental health disorder and over half of all mental ill health starts at the age of 14. So, if your child is a pre-teen, now is the time to do something about it.
Here are 7 strategies to help your pre-teen beat anxiety.
Meditation has been proven to actually change the structure and function of the brain and a regular meditation practice can not only reduce anxiety symptoms, it can also reverse the damage caused by anxiety. Try a guided meditation for your pre-teen to get your started, or have a read of our ‘7 strategies to help your child with meditation”
As parents, we often feel that we should always be offering advice and solving issues for our children. Sometimes a trusted person for them to talk to is what they need. Don’t belittle your child’s anxiety. “Everyone has worries”, said a relative dismissing our friend’s daughter’s anxiety. Anxiety is more than just worrying and has real psychological and physical effects.
3. Talk to them about social media
We all know that social media can lead to higher rates of anxiety and loneliness in our children. “Compare and despair” is just one of the ways that can make us feel inadequate or left out. Most of us cannot eradicate social media from our pre-teens but we can explain to them the bubble that it is, and give them the confidence to look at it through an informed lens.
Exercise is proven to release endorphins and lift your mood! Help your pre-teen to find an exercise they enjoy. It will only be sustainable if it’s an activity that makes them feel good – whether it’s getting into the gym, kicking a football around or taking the dog for a walk.
This can be a bit of a viscous circle as anxiety can make it difficult to fall asleep, and studies have shown that lack of sleep can contribute to anxiety. So ensuring your pre-teen has enough sleep can be a tricky one. A good routine, pre-bed time relaxation and a healthy diet and exercise can
all promote better sleep.
6. Be creative
Remember nobody knows your child as well as you do. Connect with them via their interests. Whether it is relaxation through art, caring for pets or spending time with the family. My daughter is very creative. One tool we used was a mood board which we made with magazine cuttings of inspirational pictures and quotes. Another tool we use is daily introspection where she can write down the things that are on her mind – good and bad – and then if she wants to – we can talk through what she has written. On a number of occasions, she wasn’t able to articulate what she was anxious about, but she was able to write about it.
7. Seek professional help
Sometimes we can feel that we are somehow failing if we can’t solve our child’s issues ourselves. Remember that there are trained healthcare professionals whose job it is to understand and recommend a course of action. See your doctor who can let you know about the many resources that are on offer. Also remember to keep your child’s school in the loop so they can support also. All in all, it will be a combination of factors that will help your pre-teen beat anxiety, and different ones will work for different children at different times of their lives!