Tween + change = Anxiety and worry: How to help your tween fight their anxiety

Image via Diary of a midlife mummy

My focus at the moment is trying to help the tween of the BZ house through a rough patch and work out some good anxiety management techniques so he can learn to tame the monster that tries to consume him.

I thought I would share some of the info I have discovered while researching in the hope that it may help other families out there struggling through the same woes.

We know the trigger, now it's time to find the perfect calming method that suits him.

Red Flags for Anxiety: What's Normal, What's Not?

Common Red flags via Worry Wise Kids
  •  Demonstrating excessive distress out of proportion to the situation: crying, physical symptoms, sadness, anger, frustration, hopelessness, embarrassment
• Easily distressed, or agitated when in a stressful situation

• Repetitive reassurance questions, "what if" concerns, inconsolable, won't respond to logical arguments

• Headaches, stomach aches, regularly too sick to go to school

• Anticipatory anxiety, worrying hours, days, weeks ahead

• Disruptions of sleep with difficulty falling asleep, frequent nightmares, difficulty sleeping alone

• Perfectionism, self-critical, very high standards that make nothing good enough

• Overly-responsible, people pleasing, excessive concern that others are upset with him or her, unnecessary apologizing

• Demonstrating excessive avoidance, refuses to participate in expected activities, refusal to attend school

• Disruption of child or family functioning, difficulty with going to school, friend's houses, religious activities, family gatherings, errands, vacations

• Excessive time spent consoling child about distress with ordinary situations, excessive time coaxing child to do normal activities- homework, hygiene, meals

Symptoms of anxiety problems and anxiety disorders in teenagers via Raising Children.

Talk with your child and see a health professional if, over a period of more than two weeks, your child:
  • feels constantly agitated, tense, restless or on edge or can’t stop or control worrying – your child might seem unable to relax
  • shows physical signs like tense or sore muscles, a racing heart or sweating, headache or stomach aches, or nausea – these physical signs of anxiety can occur in response to something that triggers your child’s anxiety
  • seems very sensitive to criticism or extremely self-conscious or uncomfortable in social situations
  • always expects the worst to happen or seems to worry too much and out of proportion to problems or situations
  • avoids difficult or new situations, or has difficulty facing new challenges
  • is withdrawn, socially isolated or very shy
  • procrastinates – for example, has trouble starting or completing schoolwork
  • has sleeping problems, such as trouble falling or staying asleep
  • has trouble concentrating or often seems forgetful or distracted
  • feels that he must do a particular action, or something over and over (compulsive behaviour)
  • has obsessive thoughts or images that he says he can’t get out of his head.
Things you can do via Kids Helpline
The following three steps can assist you to help your child with anxiety:

Encourage them to talk about their anxiety - Share the things that as a child you were anxious about and ask them what their biggest worry is. By modeling your own calm acceptance of anxiety you will be assisting them to remain calm about theirs.
Teach your child about anxiety and its purpose - Educate yourself about anxiety and its adaptive role in helping humans survive (flight-fight-freeze). Explain the physical changes in the human body when danger is perceived (sweaty hands, blood to extremities, rapid heartbeat, shallow breathing etc.). By explaining these you are helping to normalise anxiety as well as assisting your child to identify and understand the way their own body reacts when anxious.
Help your child to recognize their anxiety and to develop ways to manage it - Ask your child to sketch their body and mark on it where their anxiety occurs, and is most felt. Teach them ways to work with their anxiety. For example a young child might learn to say: "That's just 'Mr Worry' telling me not to do that. I don't want to miss out so 'Mr Worry' you can just be quiet". Or a teenager might liken their worrying thoughts to a radio with the volume turned up high, and learn to manage it by turning the volume down. Acquire the Mindshift app suitable for iPhones and iPads, which is designed to help teens and young adults, identify their anxiety, and also offers ways to assist them to cope.
Other things you can do to help:
Encourage good eating (reduce caffeinated, high sugar drinks and foods), regular exercise, hobbies, sufficient sleep and connection with friends.
When young people are well-rested and relaxed, they will be in a better mental state to handle fears or worries
Let your children and young people know who they can call on for support if needed. This will make them feel less anxious about the future.
Visit your GP if you suspect that your child is suffering from an anxiety disorder.
• do something they enjoy
• practise good sleep hygiene
• try to remain involved in purposeful activities for at least a small part of every day
• eat a healthy, balanced diet
• talk over problems or feelings with someone who is supportive and caring
• reward themselves for reaching a small goal
• let their family and friends know how they are feeling so that people close to them are aware of what they are going through
• engage in activities that give them a feeling of achievement
• enlist a trusted friend or relative to help them get out and about or do activities
• make sure they get out of the house and are active for at least a short time each day
• make a list of strategies that have worked in the past for depression and use them
• learn relaxation methods (e.g. progressive muscle relaxation training).

Hat Day is on Friday 9 October 2015 to coincide with World Mental Health Day and Mental Health Week.

It is easy to participate in this event … wear a hat … and donate to research!

Visit to register a Hat Day FUNdraiser event and invite your friends, family and collegues to join in and to donate generously on your fundraising page.
Resources that may be of use via Kids Helpline
Anxiety Centre - Anxiety information and resources
Help Guide - Anxiety attack and disorder information
KidsHealth - Helping kids handle worry
Raising Children Network - an Australian parenting website
Headspace - visit the website for help, support and information about young people and mental health Kids in Mind - phone 3163 1640 (part of the Mater Child and Youth Mental Health Service)
Reach Out - a website designed to help improve the understanding of issues relating to mental health and wellbeing
Youth Beyondblue - phone 1300 224 636 (24 hour information and referral about depression and anxiety)
Parentline Tip Sheet: Social Anxiety -
MindShift an app for iPhones and iPads to assist young people manage their anxiety
Worry Wise Kids
Smiling minds app
Mindful meditation app
Cool kids program


Maxabella said…
A much-needed resource for so many parents, Trace. I have found that the very best thing that has helped my kids anxiety is to let them in and show them that I can be anxious sometimes too. I talk about how I felt as a child and what I did to overcome things. It was the breakthrough for us. Sometimes they just need to know that someone else that they consider put-together once felt the same way they feel. x