In our first post on anxiety we discussed what anxiety is and what it feels like for your teen.
You got in their head. You felt it. Ack!
Now you know their pain and it feels awful!! You want to take it away ASAP.
Like any parent, you hate thinking of your precious child struggling like that.
Sooooo….you came up with a list of ways to fix things for them.
But it fell flat. Womp Womp. And, in fact, may have upset them more??? Yikes.
So what went wrong?
Let’s talk about “solutions” and why they aren’t exactly…solutions.
As always, this is a no blame, no shame zone. So read on for ideas without judgement!
Let’s face it: your ideas were probably brilliant.
You have a lot of lived experience and wisdom and you got to finally put it to good use (I mean, after all, why else did we all make all those mistakes when we were younger?)
So if you had brilliant solutions, why didn’t your tween use them? Why didn’t your teen take you up on them?
Did I mention they were brilliant???
Perhaps they didn’t realize they were brilliant?
Maybe that’s it. (Hint: That’s NOT it)
So what is holding them back from finding relief? Why aren’t “solutions” working?
Here are a few reasons ACTUALLY why your wisdom fell flat:
1. Solutions are exhausting:
Your teen or tween may be feeling so depleted and overwhelmed that solutions just seem like another thing to add to the crushing pile of expectations and perceptions of failure that they are lugging around.
2. Solutions mean facing and feeling pain:
It already feels intense enough, if I focus on it (even in order to improve it), it will get worse and I can’t handle that.
3. Solutions need to be expertly tailored:
For some, it may be that they simply don’t have the words or energy left to describe what they are going through and trying to explain it takes more energy and confuses them more. Think of it this way: If I don’t even know what I am going through, how come you think you can fix it??
Anxiety truly needs a quick fix… yet nothing feels fast enough!
But there is actually a quick fix (well, sorta)
Because parent’s main goal is to help their teen or tween feel better, they often jump to logical solutions and skip over emotional experiences. So parents and kids are speaking two different languages.
How can a solution be effective if communicated in the wrong language?
Continuing to offer logical solutions can be detrimental: Your teen may begin to believe you don’t understand them and never will and thus they lose trust in your advice and wisdom
Even when we don’t offer solutions, sometimes we still fail to communicate using emotional language. For example:
Do you hear yourself saying “It’s not that bad” or “It will be OK” or “Don’t let them get to you” and “Just breathe”
The truth is, when all their thoughts are telling them “this is going to be awful”, understandably, it would be hard to be convinced that things will be ok.
So how do you reassure them it will be OK in such a way that they can believe you?
Because reassurance IS still important. People need hope and they need to see the light at the end of the tunnel.
You start by setting the stage of trust. Listening with empathy helps them open up to you and together you can craft useable and effective solutions.