Anxiety in teenagers
I don’t know about you, but more and more I am hearing that anxiety is on the increase. Perhaps more worryingly it is rocketing with teenagers and young adults.
My client base ranges from age 12 to 75 years plus. Sadly, the number of clients I’m seeing from the younger age bracket is increasing. I have been reaching out to local schools, both primary and secondary, to work with them and their families who have children experiencing the signs and symptoms of anxiety. One of the main hurdles I have to address is the misconceptions and myths of what people believe hypnotherapy is.
Although I have no doubt that COVID and self-isolation have played a big part in this increase in how children and young adults are feeling, I honestly believe that there are other factors that have contributed to this escalation. Lack of self-confidence and a feeling of less self-worth can originate from social media, and peer pressure can also play a large part. Some children find it difficult to attend lessons and are persistently absent from the classroom.
Unfortunately, many absences due to school anxiety are being labelled as truancy and these children’s issues are not being addressed. Often these children are desperate to attend school but physically can’t as they have debilitating levels of anxiety, preventing them from doing what they want to do. I know of a local school close to where I live to have a long waiting list resulting in students spending months before they are able to receive any form of counselling. It really breaks my heart to think that children are suffering whilst waiting to address their problems.
When does anxiety become a problem?
We all need a little anxiety as this is our natural defence mechanism, giving us the fight or flight response. It only becomes a problem for a child when it affects them in carrying out their ordinary life. For some children, exams or driving tests bring on heightened anxiety which can be deemed as normal. Luckily therapies such as hypnotherapy are available, which help to reduce these feelings.
The problem arises when children can’t even manage to get to school due to their anxiety. A child’s mental and emotional wellbeing can be extremely damaged if they are suffering from severe anxiety which affects their self-esteem and confidence. They may become withdrawn and avoid situations that make them feel anxious.
Signs to look out for
- Physical symptoms such as stomach pain, nausea or headaches.
- Panic attacks.
- Trouble sleeping or waking during the night.
- Wetting the bed.
- Bad dreams.
- Lack of concentration.
- Outbursts of anger.
- Avoidance of everyday activities such as seeing friends or going to school.
- Threats of self-harm.
There can be lots of different triggers for anxiety, especially in children. It could be a change of circumstances, for example, a house move, starting a new school, or parents separating or divorcing. The important message is to talk to them about their anxiety and worries. Reassure them you understand how they feel and address their worries so that you can find solutions together.
How to help children with anxiety
By talking to your child you can teach them to recognise when they are beginning to feel anxious. It’s important to encourage them to manage this themselves and to ask for help when they need it. Try where possible to stick to regular daily routines as your child will find this reassuring. I know it is easier said than done but try not to be overprotective or anxious yourself as they will pick up on this, which could escalate the situation further.
Practice simple breathing and relaxation techniques. I quite often enjoy this with my children. 'Together time’ is so important for everyone.
As a clinical hypnotherapist, I see every day the benefits and worth of this type of therapy especially in children and young adults. Unlike other therapies, it isn’t necessary to talk and I find that this is helpful for children and young adults as ordinarily, some find it hard to express their feelings and emotions.
I am pleased to say that more and more parents are looking for therapy to help their children. Working with your child using hypnotherapy has the ability to get to the root cause of any problems or issues. Whilst your subconscious mind is receptive in a relaxed state, positive suggestions can be made, together with clever little coping tools and techniques which these children and young adults can use throughout their life taking them into adulthood.
Quotation by Jay Shetty: ‘Fear comes from a lack of knowledge, accelerate your learning, eliminate your fear’.
Quotation by Brene Brown: ‘Vulnerability is not winning or losing. It’s having the courage to show up when you can’t control the outcome’.