Might it be that the rise in anxiety amongst young people today is evidence that they are challenging with their hearts an adopted perception of ‘what is?’
Anxiety is, after all, a perception of fear-based powerlessness, caused by a conflict between what the head and the heart wants.
In my consulting practice, I simply can’t count the number of times young people complain about how their views are not taken seriously, and how angry and misunderstood they feel. Planet bedroom becomes an attractive place to escape to for most teenagers!
Young People Hope for Change
Young people are challenging ideas in every aspect of society, and not blindly accepting ‘what is,’ as our past generations may have tended to. Young individuals are questioning judgements, identity and expectations like never before, which inevitably creates tension! It is understandable that as a parent, you might perhaps feel threatened by such strong differing views to what you may have gotten comfortable with. This blog might well push some buttons for you? If as a parent, you’ve ever thought, ‘I don’t get how you can think that, or do that!’ You’re not alone.
It’s Time to Encourage Healthy Debate in Young People
For myself growing up, my attempts to progress ideas were always met with criticisms that I had ‘ideas above my station,’ and ‘airs of grandeur.’ In today’s world thankfully, the debate is much healthier. Schools are keen to nurture freedom of expression and there are debating clubs and debating competitions to support such healthy development amongst young people. At home, family mealtimes provide a fantastic opportunity for technology-free conversation. To be honest, I was inspired to write this blog following a healthy discussion over breakfast with my 24-year-old daughter, Mollie, during my recent stay in London.
What You Were Told When You Were Younger
Has anyone ever told you “That’s just what your mum or dad would say?”
Have you ever had the experience of saying something to your kids, and remembering your parent or even your grandparent having said that to you when you were younger?
I wonder if you perhaps recognize opinion and behaviour repeats throughout your family generations?
Your grandmother was anxious, so you are anxious.
Your granddad was a hard worker, so you are a hard worker.
Your mum was impatient, so you are impatient.
Your dad was selfish, so you are selfish.
Your parents were risk-averse… you get the idea, I hope.
Such beliefs and behaviours are more likely to be conditioned, rather than genetic. Subconsciously, you tend to think the way your parents thought, and they tend to do things the way their parents did. In psychology, we call this pattern repeat a ‘cycle of deprivation.’
How to Help Stem the Alarming Epidemic of Anxiety in Young People?
The key, in my humble yet professional opinion, to effectively help your anxious teen is ‘self-awareness’. This means becoming aware of how you might be influencing your children unwittingly. Self-understanding and self-reflection are vital parenting skills. Be warned: Those cycles of deprivation I mentioned, deprive you of an awareness of what is really going on in the shadows!
If you are running into difficulties communicating and connecting with your teenager, a simple programme of psychotherapy can help you, as their parent, to understand more fully how the ‘shadow’ thoughts and beliefs running in the background of your mind may be making waves in your relationship. Please don’t misunderstand me – there is no blame to apportion here. They are ideas which you absorbed, often unwittingly. These thoughts have, over time, grown to become beliefs. Subconsciously, those beliefs have shaped how you think and how you act in your life today.
There is definitely a trend in young people craving to break free from (dare I say it) blinkered, and perhaps at times, single-minded and risk-averse thinking. If as a parent today, you wish to help your anxious teen to fly, then I encourage you to share facts with them, instead of your subjective opinions in how you have always thought about things. This is something I have worked on for myself with my own children. I know first-hand that if you do this, you will in turn, encourage them to be more free-thinking in developing their own ideas.
Time to Grow Beyond Anxiety
The more you recognise your limitations in your own beliefs, you will naturally encourage your kids to think more limitlessly for themselves. Trusting in what they believe in for themselves will help them to find their confidence in who they are, and overcome the anxiety of who they should be, so that they may give themselves permission to achieve their dreams and aspirations.
If you need my support in any way, I’m here. I hope this helps you today.
Anxiety Expert – Anxiety Help Bournemouth & Christchurch, UK
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