Being a parent means that you often have hunches about your children. Hunches that tend to be pretty accurate and on point.
Sometimes, those hunches may lead you to find out things about your teen that are upsetting, or surprising or that you might wish you didn’t know.
But these are your mama instincts and you need to trust them. More importantly, your teen needs you to trust them.
Especially if you’re concerned that they may be dealing with mental health issues like anxiety.
Often our teens don’t know how to express what is going on with them. They me be afraid, ashamed or embarrassed.
This is why we need to pay close attention, follow our “hunches” and look for teenage behavior that shows stress and anxiety.
Then we can be there for them and get them the support they need. In many cases, it is so much better when we can recognize they are struggling and intervene early.
If you’re worried your teen son or teen daughter might have anxiety, here are some signs to look for that can help confirm those mama instincts.
What To Look Out For To See If Your Teen Has Anxiety
Often, our teens will exhibit visual signs that are indicators they are struggling with anxiety. They may be very obvious, but sometimes they are more subtle. That’s why it’s important for us to be observant and to make sure that even as busy as our teens get, that we have moments each day where we’re checking in on them.
Here are some of the most common signs of stress in your teenager:
Your teen just cannot ever seem to be relaxed
Even when it’s the weekend and your home without any plans, does your teen still seem uptight and nervous? Are they having trouble sleeping?
Our teens absolutely can be moody, but if they’re suddenly jittery or always on edge and even routine things are throwing them for a loop you need to take notice. And while it’s not unusual for them to stay up later now that they are getting older, they shouldn’t be having trouble falling asleep when they get tired or be waking up many times during the night. These all point to the possibility of anxiety and should not be ignored.
(P.S. these can also be signs of cell phone addiction, so you may want to limit cell phone time and make sure it’s not in their room with them at night)
Every little thing seems to make them “snap”
You know what I’m talking about, right?
Those moments when out of the blue your typically pleasant teen just suddenly “snaps” and starts yelling, pulling away or slamming doors. Anxiety often can express itself in our teenagers as anger. So, if your teen is unable to control or suppress their anger or starts having unusual rage fits, they may be dealing with anxiety issues that they don’t know how to handle.
Their grades have begun to slip
Schoolwork can often get put on the back burner by teens when dealing with issues of anxiety. Sometimes they may be having Teen Test Anxiety ,which becomes a problem in high school as teens begin to worry about their grades and getting into college. This can be a simpler issue to address.
However, if you notice that your teen’s grades start to drop and continue to decline, it may be time to start paying closer attention to them and their behavior to see if there are other signs of anxiety or other issues going on.
Your teen says that they are constantly feeling ill
So many times our bodies will start to reflect what is going on with us emotionally before we’re even aware of the larger problem. It is not unusual at all for anxiety to manifest in physical symptoms for teenagers.
If your teen starts to suffer from frequent stomach aches, headaches or fatigue, these could all be signs of anxiety. If you’re noticing they seem to be complaining of not feeling well more often, talk to them about how they’ve been feeling to see if it might be the underlying cause. (Of course, if you suspect something more serious, take them to the nearest ER!)
Their social skills have suddenly taken a turn for the worse
Anxiety is one of those things that takes on many different forms.
If your typically active and spotlight-seeking child is suddenly shying away from attention and the public, this can definitely be a sign. You may also notice your teen start to distance themselves from friends or lose interest in many activities they used to enjoy. When a teen starts to withdraw for any reason, it should be a point of concern and it is important for parents to try to get to the root cause of this change in behavior.
Keep in mind that just because you have a hunch that your child is dealing with anxiety issues, that doesn’t mean your teen knows that is what is going on with them. Don’t assume if you bring up the term with them that they will make the connection in terms of how they are feeling.
It’s important to keep in mind that they may not fully understand all the emotions they are dealing with, so address the topic and situation with care. Talk to your teen in a respectful and non-confrontational manner and help them understand that this isn’t an unusual thing to go through at their age. In fact, it’s common for adults too.
The sooner that you can identify the behaviors of teenage stress and anxiety, the better chance you have of intervening before things get too far. You can help them process what is happening, give them tools to cope with their teen anxiety or when necessary seek outside support services. There is nothing wrong with admitting your child is struggling and it isn’t something you as a parent has done wrong. What’s most important is making them feel loved and secure while you find the best approach for getting through this together.