Parenting teens is no easy task during a typical year. The past year or so, along with its unpredictability and isolation, has taken an enormous toll on the average teen’s mental health. “Lockdowns and school closures have led to greater incidences of obesity and eating disorders,” The Wall Street Journal reports. Plus, teens are markedly more likely to report symptoms of depression and anxiety than they were in the past. Knowing that teenagers’ mental health is in a very precarious spot, what can parents do? Follow these tips to help teens manage anxiety.
Establish a consistent family routine
According to Mental Health America, routines lower everyday anxiety and make people of all ages more resilient to common stressors. Routines are particularly effective when you need to help teens manage anxiety. Routines should incorporate a healthy diet, regular exercise, and a healthy amount of sleep. Australia’s Raising Children Network also recommends incorporating your child’s passions and interests into their routine — as long as these interests are relaxing. For example, set aside time to go on walks, read, or listen to music.
Support open and honest discussions
Now more than ever, it is important for parents to encourage open and honest discussions with their teenage children. Parenting teens means navigating difficult emotions and feelings.
For example, it may not feel comfortable to talk to your teenager about braces and any reservations they may have about getting them or not getting them. While an overwhelming 70% of Americans do not like their teeth, some teens may feel insecure about potential comments from their peers. Talk to teens about the pros and cons of straightening their teeth as well as options to customize braces to their liking.
Encourage time spent in nature
Parenting teens can be a challenge no matter what. Make your life and your teenager’s life easier by setting aside time to spend in nature. Nature is tremendously beneficial to our mental and physical health. Nature lowers stress, promotes relaxation, regulates blood pressure, and lessens muscle tension, according to the mental health organization MIND based in the United Kingdom.
Turn an extra room into a quiet space
While it may sound cliché, sometimes all we need — or all your teen may need — is a little peace and quiet. Designating a room for that very purpose can go a long way to help teens manage anxiety.
The average home costs $200,000 and is 1,800 square feet with three bedrooms and two-and-a-half bathrooms. Take full advantage of that space or the space in your home to set aside a room for quiet, relaxation, and reflection. What that looks like for each family may vary. This may be a den, a reading room, a yoga room, or a meditation room.
Help your teen find a fun part-time job
Again, establishing routines and staying busy can work wonders for teens’ mental health. One way to help encourage healthy routines, get teens out of the house, and teach them responsibility is to help them find a part-time job. Even better, that job doesn’t have to be something your teen pushes back against. In fact, it is best for you and your teen if you can help them find a part-time job they genuinely enjoy.
For example, your teen may find a job teaching canoeing lessons, booking kayaking excursions, or acting as a camp counselor or guide for a local summer camp. The boating industry is especially promising right now. It brings in $121.5 billion yearly and ultimately creates 650,000 U.S. jobs, including jobs for as many as 35,000 small businesses. Encourage your teen to tap into that market or to find another job that genuinely aligns with their interests.
Growing up is no easy feat. Anxiety among teens is commonplace, and — now — it is more common than ever. You can help teens manage anxiety using the pointers above.