Helping teens deal with anxiety during coronavirus pandemic

Being a teenager is hard enough. Now the COVID-19 crisis is making it even more challenging for some. From the fear of the unknown to loneliness caused by isolation, your teen is probably dealing with some big emotions.

Teens went from enjoying school, hobbies, and friends to spending all their time cooped up at home and many parents are realizing the coronavirus may be fueling anxiety.

"We have to spend more time with our children than we ever did before and we discover that maybe, maybe we don’t know them as well as we thought we did,” said Dr. Oksana Hagerty, assistant director of the center for student success and psychologist at Beacon College.

Some signs: constant fear or worry, physical problems like chronic headaches or stomachaches, a change in your child’s personality, such as irritability, difficulty sleeping, panic attacks, or withdrawing from activities.

“Like, ‘Oh, maybe I shouldn’t go to college’ or ‘maybe I shouldn’t pursue that major’ or ‘maybe I should change something,’ ‘maybe I should downsize.’ These are the signs of withdrawing," Hagerty told Ivanhoe Newswire.

So how can you help?

First, recognize that their lives are turned upside down and anxiety is normal. Let them work through their feelings.

Make sure they’re getting enough exercise and sleep.

And help them find creative ways to connect with their friends like Facetime or Zoom.

Talk about their concerns a lot and offer positive feedback.

“So, catch them being good, spend more time with your child, be more attentive to your child, and build on his or her strengths," Hagerty said.

According to the National Institute of Mental Health, about 25% of 13- to 18-year-olds have an anxiety disorder.