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How to Support Your Teen With Anxiety - With Maddy


How to Support Your Teen With Anxiety - With Maddy


On episode 118 of the podcast, Maddy Weimer joins me to talk about anxiety in teenagers! Maddy is a licensed counselor in Pennsylvania who works with children, teens, and adults. Today, she’s sharing some insight on the topic of anxiety in teenagers - what it is, what it looks like, and how we can support our teens! 


Being a teenager in today’s world is extremely hard. Not only do teens face pressure from school, home, and friends, but they have the added stress of phones and social media. Maddy will share more on this in the full podcast episode, but I just want to highlight the importance of meeting your teen with compassion. It’s a lot for anyone to navigate, especially a young person who is still trying to figure out their place in the world! So let’s get into our conversation with Maddy. 


What Anxiety In Teens Looks Like

I started by asking Maddy what anxiety in teens might look like. She shared that most often, teens struggling with anxiety tend to also struggle with perfectionism. This perfectionism can make it really difficult for them to be vulnerable and share that they’re struggling, just like many of us adults with anxiety! Along with perfectionism, Maddy also mentioned that self-isolating, irritability, and changes in sleep patterns can be strong indicators that your teen might be struggling, especially when these signs are paired together. 


If you’ve been listening to the podcast for a while, you’re probably familiar with my story and journey with anxiety as a teen. When Maddy mentioned these symptoms of anxiety in teens, I immediately thought of myself at that age and couldn’t agree more with what she said. Another sign of anxiety that I personally experienced was changes in appetite. I’d often get stomach aches due to anxiety, and sometimes I would avoid certain foods altogether. Changes in appetite can definitely be an indicator that your teen might need some extra support! 


How You Can Support Your Teenager With Anxiety 

Maddy mentioned that it can be really helpful to display to your teen that it’s okay to feel anxious. It doesn’t mean that something is wrong with them or that they need fixing. Maddy shared that as parents, we often go into ‘fix’ mode, which can be helpful, but might often leave our teens feeling as though they are broken and require fixing. Instead, being supportive and assuring our children that there’s nothing wrong with being anxious can be much more helpful.


Additionally, Maddy mentioned that it’s important to know when to encourage your teen to work through the anxiety and when to allow them to rest. She said that asking them to rate their anxiety on a scale of one to ten can be a great way to gauge whether they need rest or have the ability to continue with a particular activity.  


Teaching your teen that uncomfortable emotions are safe to feel can go such a long way! Often times we feel as though we have to run from uncomfortable emotions. And although this might lead to temporary relief, running away from our emotions creates poor coping skills in the long run. 


There are so many ways that you can support your teen through this season of their lives, but it all comes down to listening and validating their emotions! If you’d like to hear more details on this topic, make sure to listen to the full podcast episode with Maddy. She has so much helpful information to share with parents of teens struggling with anxiety!


Maddy Weimer, Counselor for teens and young adults

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