According to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America, 80 percent of the kids who meet the diagnostic criteria for an anxiety disorder will not get the treatment that they need. Parents tend to patronize their children’s symptoms, reducing their emotional experiences as personality traits or defects of character. Kids aren’t supposed to be stressed, anxious “worry warts” with vivid “imaginations” about their fears. Anxiety issues in childhood, adolescence, and teenagerhood can lead to a higher risk of substance abuse and addiction later in life, especially when untreated. Unfortunately, but also thankfully, some symptoms and side effects of adolescent anxiety come full circle early on, warranting early intervention and treatment. Numerous studies have shown that for adults as well as adolescents, early intervention and treatment produces the best long term results. If your adolescent or teen is struggling with anxiety and has turned to substances to cope, here are some ways to support their recovery.
Don’t Act Fearless in The Face of Adversity
One of the driving forces in anxiety is believing that it is bad to be fearful and have anxiety. Everyone experiences varying levels of anxious thinking and fears. Rather than encourage ideals of perfection which indicate living without fear, open the discussion about fears with your child. Encourage them to discuss their fears, no matter how abstract. Openly discuss your own fears with them, no matter how you perceive they might make you look as a parent. It’s important for kids to understand that having fears and emotions is normal. Showing kids that it is possible to feel and experience fear, then courageously walk through it and act in spite of it is the better example.
Practice Mindfulness Together
Prayer, meditation, and mindfulness exercises are proven ways to reduce the symptoms of anxiety. Though anxiety cannot be “cured” it can be well managed with a spiritual foundation. Mindfulness activities like focusing on the breath, performing a body scan meditation, talking through prayer, or paying attention to the senses, can help take a child out of their fearful future while bringing them back to a faithful present.
Have Empathy and Compassion
You may not fully understand how it feels to live with clinical anxiety. You do have experience in fear, doubt, feeling out of control, and struggling to cope with truths in life. Remember that there is a distinct plan and unique purpose for every aspect of our character and being. Your child is not deficient, broken, or a punishment for you because of their anxiety. Instead, they pose a peculiar challenge to your ability to love more deeply and unconditionally. What your child needs more than anything is a reminder of that.
Stonewater Adolescent Recovery Center brings children and parents back together through the healing process of therapy and treatment. Providing premiere residential treatment programs for adolescent addiction, we welcome families to build a foundation of faith while restoring mind, body, and spirit. For more information, call 1-662-598-4214.