He has summarized for us, as parents of adolescents, the signs of anxiety, ways to decrease the experience of stress when switching schools.
Teenage anxiety is a growing problem. Anxiety issues usually stem from worrying about the future, low self-esteem, and keeping such concerns a secret. Unfortunately for teenagers, most parents don’t recognize anxiety in their children. Usually, it’s because parents don’t notice, can’t tell, are too busy running the household, or don’t believe their child has such problems. Some studies suggest that close to one in eight children suffer from severe anxiety. Typically, children who suffer from anxiety are younger than college age. They often don’t talk about it and don’t try to get help. Teen anxiety and stress can only become heightened when a family relocates and a teen must switch schools.
Adults may have to relocate a family to a new city due to a divorce, new job opportunity, or economic reasons. When a teen must relocate to a new environment and school, anxiety and stress can get in the way of socially adjusting. The teen has no control over the situation, and resentment against a parent or the unfairness of life can also be a factor in anxiety. Teens can become homesick for their old life and stress over a future in new, unknown surroundings. Although the onset of stress and anxiety may be difficult to stop or diagnose, once recognized, there are many things a parent can do to help.
Tips on Recognizing Anxiety
The first step in recognizing whether your teen has anxiety is to look for the following signs:
- Wildly disrupted daily routines
- Isolation from peers
- Inability to sleep and concentrate
- Drug use
- Uncontrolled body movements and tics
- Poor and worsening school performance
- Avoiding peers and social situations
- Excessive, angry sarcasm
- Silent treatment
- Homesickness after a move
Consider that as a parent, you may be suffering from anxiety as well. Children look to their parents to learn how to react to life situations. If you express fear and anxiety, they will pick up on that, learn from it, and model their own responses. Learn to develop a poker face and know that your child is watching you and learning from you, especially in times of stress.
How to Lessen Stress After Switching Schools
A move during the school year and switching schools can be an awfully stressful experience for teens. They must uproot their lives, make new friends, adjust to new surroundings, and fully let go of their old lives. This can be a tall order for young people. Engage in a conversation and discuss what they are leaving behind and what they will gain in the future.
The following are steps you can take to lessen stress:
- If possible, arrange for a guided tour of the school to alleviate worries about the future
- Do your best to transform anxiety about the future into enthusiasm
- Encourage teens to enroll in social clubs and help them look for extracurricular activities that they are excited about
- Try to help your teen look for a silver lining
- Consider a family visit to a therapist if all else fails
Be Involved in Your Kid’s Life and Talk It Out
The best way to combat teen anxiety is to be involved in your child’s life. Talk out all problems to find a solution. Ask them about what’s going on and do your best to listen. Some other tips to help your children include:
- Don’t ever rationalize anxiety or make it seem like an acceptable problem to have
- Tell them there is no shame in having anxiety or stress, not to repress or ignore such feelings, and that it’s best to talk it out
- Emphasize that they can talk to you about anything
- Give them every outlet possible to help eliminate their stress
Teens will always deal with anxiety problems. Be involved in their lives, learn the signs of anxiety, and always talk things out. By making sure your children feel no shame or guilt for feeling anxious, they may be more likely to open up to you. Giving them the security and support they need during such a difficult transition will always be the best way to help them adjust.