Anxious and Avoiding Teen? The Anxiety Cycle

Teens today feel pressure in a way that many parents have a hard time understanding. Social media has created a whole new world, a world in which teens feel monitored, judged, worried, anxious about their peers. Add parental fears and expectations to the mix and kids today are struggling more than ever with school, social pressures, and consequently with self-esteem, confusion, and isolation. Their response is often to shut down, to give up, to avoid. The anxiety of having to cope is often just too much and they retreat more and more into their own world, a world made more comfortable through video games, socializing without leaving their rooms, and other avenues that enable them to isolate even more.

How Can You Help Your Teen?

At Mindful Healing, we adapt different therapeutic tools to move your kids forward. One of them is DBT. What is DBT?  Well, the acronym sounds intimidating, Dialectical Behavior Therapy. What it really is, is a set of over 100 skills to help others cope with life, with the tasks of living that for parents seem easy, but for teens today, can be overwhelming -such as making phone calls for appointments, driving, getting up on time and actually doing their homework.

 Exposure Therapy:

Not all teen problems are treated only with DBT. At Mindful Healing we also utilize exposure therapy. In exposure therapy, say fear of driving is the problem, a teen may be encouraged just to drive down the block and back. Day after day, just for a short time, until they are so comfortable, they are bored and itching to go a little further. As exposure and task time is increased, their confidence grows, and their anxiety lessens. In addition, they may also begin with a DBT skill such as square breathing, a skill that will help them when they first get in the car and feel panicky, paralyzed. By grounding themselves with this breathing technique, breathing deeply to a count of 4 (or 8), holding for the same count, breathing out to the same count, and then breathing into that count, they can calm themselves and be ready to drive down the block. The more they realize they CAN, the more they will be motivated to WANT to do it!

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