How to help your teenage daughter manage her anxiety about a year of uncertainty
This year of uncertainty has brought many new sources of anxiety for teen girls:
- Social distancing created challenges in maintaining friendships.
- Busy schedules were brought to a halt with the lockdown.
- Screen time suddenly merged with school time.
- Concerns over health and human rights have never been felt more deeply or intensely.
If ever there was a year when teens faced new and unusual life experiences, 2020 is the one. They have been required to adjust and adjust again.
As summer rolls into a new school year, many are finding themselves once again worrying about how school, sports, and friendships will take shape. They are frustrated and disheartened about their “new normal.”
While some worry and fear are natural reactions to moving toward an uncertain future, they don’t have to overwhelm your teen. There are things you can do to soothe her over-thinking mind and invite a sense of relief.
Honor her experiences.
Show your teen that you value her unique experience by listening to understand, rather than problem solve, and validating her point-of-view. Help her recognize that feelings of anxiety, frustration, and fear are normal given the circumstances. When your teen feels understood and affirmed, she will feel more peaceful and supported. She will also be more likely to turn to you when challenges come her way.
Provide her with resources.
At birth, your daughter develops a sense of security and trust. As she grows, she will continue to rely on the foundation her family has laid, but she will also naturally pull away from mom and dad. A family friend, peer mentor, or life coach adds to her network trustworthy people to whom she can turn — people other than mom and dad, who can provide her resources, encouragement, and support. All teens benefit from having a person who can be the voice of the parent, without being the parent.
Highlight her choices.
Help your teen discover where she can take the driver’s seat in her life and where she has some control. Encourage her to see that she isn’t a victim of her circumstances and she has the power to turn a negative situation into something more uplifting. Try asking open-ended questions like, “What choices do you have right now?” or “What changes can you make that may change the way you feel about this situation?” or “What are the good things about distance learning/social distancing/civil unrest?” For teens, a sense of control equals a sense of relief.