Helping Your Adolescent Get a Handle on Anxiety
The teen years are tough on pretty much everyone, but if you’re suffering from a health condition like alopecia or any other disease that affects your appearance, you may be dealing with low self-esteem, a lack of confidence, and anxiety to boot. Here, we offer parents six strategies to help their adolescents navigate those tough times:
Be a Positive Role Model
Modeling healthy habits and behaviors for your child can help them overcome discomfort and anxiety. For example, if you’re unhappy at your job, model a positive attitude and look for ways to change your situation: enroll in online classes to get a degree that will lead to a promotion, or start your own business that will let you be in control of your destiny. Overcoming fear and anxiety as they partake in new experiences will help your adolescent grow in confidence and build their self-esteem. And if they see you take risks and challenge yourself, they’ll be more likely to follow suit.
Let Them Spend Time Outdoors
Spending time out in the fresh air and sunlight is a great mood booster. Add some exercise to the mix, like hiking, jogging, or biking, and your adolescent will start feeling better physically, mentally, and emotionally. If you feel like your teen would benefit from unplugging from their surroundings and spending more time focusing on themselves, consider signing them up for an outdoor therapy program. You can also plan a short trip as a family and take them camping or on a beach adventure. Leave the electronics at home, and build their confidence by letting them explore a new environment and creating new experiences for themselves.
Offer a Healthy Variety of Foods
If your teen is concerned about their appearance, especially when they’re dealing with alopecia or another condition that makes them look “different” from their peers, focus on the things they can change that will foster health, strength, and well-being. Encourage them to eat a variety of fresh fruits and vegetables, and ensure they get enough carbs, protein, and good fats in their diet as well as enough calories to fuel their growing bodies. And check with their doctor to make sure they’re getting the proper amount of vitamins and minerals they need to develop into healthy adults.
Limit Screen Time
Social media has both positive and negative effects on adolescents. Smartphones and tablets allow teens to interact with their peers and stay informed about current events. And for creative kids, social media allows them to share their art with the whole world. But unfortunately, social media can cause stress and anxiety in adolescents: fear of missing out, comparing themselves with others, and cyberbullying are real threats to their mental health. So try to limit your child’s screen time, and make sure they know that what their friends are posting online is just a highlight reel and not the whole picture.
Seek Professional Help
If your adolescent is struggling with anxiety and you’re worried they may be on the verge of depression, make sure you take them to see a licensed therapist who will teach them ways to cope and overcome their challenges. You can also take advantage of virtual counseling options if your teen has a packed schedule or is too shy or introverted for in-person visits with a professional. Book a free session first to make sure the therapist you picked is a good fit for your child. Being able to speak with a trained mental health professional without fear of judgment will do wonders for your teen’s well-being and confidence.
If you’re the parent of an adolescent struggling with anxiety, know that there are ways to help your child. Beyond a healthy diet and exercise, provide them with positive experiences that will build their confidence. And if you need more support, don’t hesitate to reach out to a mental health professional.
At the Children’s Alopecia Project, we help children living with all forms of alopecia. We change the emphasis from growing hair to growing confidence, building self-esteem, providing support, and raising awareness.
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