One in four adolescents has mild to moderate anxiety, making it the most common mental health disorder among young people, according to the National Institute of Mental Health. Because it can look different in each person and may or may not be triggered by a specific event or setting, it can be difficult for parents to recognize at first. Knowing the symptoms and learning some coping skills can support you in how to help your child with anxiety.
Help kids recognize their anxiety
Children and teens often don’t know they are anxious. Help them learn how their body responds to feeling worried or fearful; talk through their emotional and physical feelings with them so they can better identify it when it happens again.
Listen and show support
Encourage your child to open up about any fears and worries they have. Even if their fears seem irrational or exaggerated, let them know you care and think that what they feel is important.
Stick to a routine
Schedules and routines create a sense of structure, security, and comfort. Try to make things seem normal for your child, even though they may not be.
Praise small accomplishments
Notice when your child follows through with trying something new or approaching something that makes them nervous. Tell them how much you admire them for trying and that trying is key regardless of the outcome.
Notice your own reactions
Pay attention to your own thoughts and feelings during stressful times. Try to stay calm and positive when your child is anxious.
Find treatment for your child
If worry is getting in the way of normal, daily activities, your child may benefit from therapy, counseling, medication, or a combination thereof. Talk with your child’s doctor to decide what will work best for your family. If you’re having a hard time with your child’s anxiety, it may also help you to seek therapy or counseling, as well.
If your child expresses thoughts of wanting to harm themselves or others, call 9-1-1 or visit the nearest Emergency Department.
MHSA Suicide Prevention Line:
(877) 7CRISIS or (877) 727-4747
National Suicide Prevention Lifeline:
Crisis Text Line:
Text “HOME” to 741741
Find a mental health provider
Check your insurance website or the back of your insurance card.
Explore Psychology Today’s “Find a Therapist” tool.
Call CalOptima Behavioral Health (Orange County, CA).
Anxiety and Depression Association of America
National Institute of Mental Health
Therapist Aid – Anxiety Tools