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198: Parenting Anxious Teens: Calm Brain Tools with Nancy McDermott, LCSW – Dr. Roseann Capanna-Hodge

Learn effective parenting techniques to support anxious teens with calm brain tools, featuring insights from seasoned clinical therapist Nancy McDermott.

Parenting anxious teens can feel overwhelming, especially when you're unsure how to support them. However, incorporating calm brain tools into your parenting approach can make a significant difference as they create a safe and comforting environment for your teens to express their feelings. Moreover, these tools can help foster trust and understanding, showing them that they're not alone in their struggles.

If you're seeking effective parenting techniques tailored to supporting your anxious teenagers, then this episode is precisely what you need. I’m delighted to have Nancy McDermott, a seasoned clinical therapist, on board to share her wealth of knowledge and expertise. Together, we delve into a comprehensive discussion aimed at equipping parents with the tools and insights necessary to navigate the unique challenges posed by anxiety.

Parenting anxious teens, signs and symptoms, and coping strategies.

Social media may offer mixed messages to kids, but it's also fostering more open conversations about mental health issues like anxiety and depression. When your child expresses feelings of anxiety or depression, take it seriously and recognize their need for support and consider therapy if they request it. Sometimes, parents may not connect the dots between physical symptoms and underlying anxiety, so be vigilant for signs of symptoms like stomach aches, sleep problems, changes in eating habits, or withdrawn behavior, even if your child doesn't explicitly use terms like “anxious” or “worried.”

Parents sometimes struggle to understand why their children may not vocalize feelings of depression or anxiety. It could be because the emotions crept up on them or they fear disappointing their parents. The sad truth is that our society often avoids discussing feelings, leaving kids without the vocabulary to express themselves fully. 

In therapy, attaching words to emotions can be transformative. Parents can lead by example, talking openly about a range of feelings, not just stress considering that anxious avoidance is a common but misunderstood coping mechanism, especially among teens. While it provides short-term relief, it reinforces anxiety in the long run, shrinking their world. 

Helping kids develop stress tolerance is key to good mental health, but it requires facing discomfort rather than avoiding it. By fostering an environment where children can express and understand their emotions, parents can equip them with the tools to navigate life's challenges with resilience and confidence.

Anxiety in teenage boys, using Neurofeedback and somatics to manage symptoms.

In families like Nancy's and mine, emotions are openly discussed (this may not be the norm for everyone), as being open typically leads to better outcomes than being closed-off. Boys, in particular, face unique challenges in expressing vulnerability due to societal expectations of strength. Normalizing vulnerability at home can encourage boys to share their feelings. 

In programs like our BrainBehaviorReset™ Program, somatic techniques help teenagers connect their physical sensations with their emotions. Encouraging moments of reflection and offering to discuss feelings at a later, more suitable time can provide relief for anxious teenagers who may struggle to open up immediately.

In addressing anxiety comprehensively, it's imperative to recognize and address not just the cognitive and emotional dimensions, but also the physiological aspect. Therapeutic approaches that solely focus on addressing cognitive distortions or emotional regulation may fall short if they neglect the physiological underpinnings of anxiety. Techniques such as Neurofeedback, which aims to modulate brainwave activity, and PEMF therapy, which targets cellular functioning, directly impact the body's physiological responses, helping to regulate the nervous system and alleviate symptoms of anxiety.

Understanding the anxious brain involves recognizing the shift from parasympathetic to sympathetic activation and the constant state of sympathetic dominance in anxiety. Individuals need the ability to self-regulate to benefit fully from therapeutic interventions. For personalized assistance, individuals can seek help through one-on-one sessions: https://drroseann.com/help/

Anxiety in children and teens, with tips for parents.

When dealing with anxiety, it's crucial to recognize what makes it worse. If left unchecked, anxiety can grow, making it harder to manage. If you see your child withdrawing, spending too much time on screens, and avoiding other activities, it could be a sign they're struggling with anxiety and need support.

While Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) is recognized as a helpful approach for managing anxiety, it's essential to understand that it's just one component in a larger framework. Incorporating techniques to calm the nervous system, such as mindfulness practices, relaxation exercises, or somatic therapy, can complement the cognitive strategies of CBT. By integrating these approaches, individuals can learn to recognize and regulate their physiological responses to anxiety triggers, thereby enhancing their overall ability to cope effectively.

Anxiety often develops early in life and can be perpetuated by maladaptive coping mechanisms like avoidance or overworking to mitigate uncertainty. As college admissions season approaches, it's crucial to recognize the challenges faced by anxious students, as academic pressures can exacerbate their symptoms. Taking proactive steps, such as considering a gap year, may be necessary to prioritize mental health and well-being.

Addressing anxiety is a journey that demands dedication and perseverance. It's not a task that can be accomplished effortlessly; rather, it requires ongoing effort and commitment. However, instead of perceiving it solely as a challenge or burden, it's important to reframe our perspective and recognize it as an opportunity for growth and learning. Ultimately, the goal is to help individuals gain control over their anxiety and channel it constructively towards positive outcomes.

Managing anxiety in children through communication and validation.

There are times when anxiety becomes rather overwhelming, which interferes with daily life or can even cause children to withdraw. When this happens, it’s essential for parents to intervene with appropriate strategies to help manage and alleviate their child’s anxiety. Early intervention can prevent anxiety from escalating and provide children with the tools they need to cope effectively. 

Parents shouldn't rely solely on grades as a benchmark for mental health, as many highly anxious children may excel academically but struggle internally. Instead, managing anxiety in children involves open communication and validation of their feelings, which helps them feel understood and supported. By actively listening and acknowledging their child's emotions, parents can foster a safe environment where anxiety can be addressed constructively. This approach not only improves emotional well-being but also equips children with essential coping skills for the future.

Communication techniques are also invaluable when dealing with anxious children. Parents should avoid getting drawn into arguments or fact-fighting with their children, as this can lead to further dysregulation. Instead, they should focus on actively listening and validating their child's feelings, even if they don't agree with them. This fosters a sense of connection and understanding, which is vital for building trust and openness in the parent-child relationship.

Moreover, parents can gently challenge their child's anxious perceptions by encouraging them to consider alternative viewpoints. By reframing situations and exploring different perspectives together, parents can help their children develop more balanced and rational thinking patterns. 

Effective communication and validation are essential tools for supporting anxious children and helping them navigate their emotions in a healthy and constructive manner. Engaging children in neutral conversations and physical activities like tossing a ball can lead to better communication. It's important for parents to actively maintain a connection with their children to facilitate these conversations. As children grow older, maintaining this connection requires more effort and time, especially when they have their own interests and activities.

As such, parents should take an interest in what their children enjoy as it can open up meaningful discussions and strengthen their bond. I also want to emphasize that parents should avoid dismissing or minimizing their children’s feelings, and instead focus on coping skills. Highlighting their successes and how they managed difficult situations helps to reinforce positive behaviors and break the cycle of anxiety.

Managing anxiety and defiance in children.

When it comes to addressing anxiety and defiance in children, understanding the root causes is crucial. Defiance often stems from unmet emotional needs or a sense of loss of control, leading to challenging behaviors as a way to assert independence or cope with underlying issues. Rather than responding with anger or punishment, it's important for parents and caregivers to approach defiance with empathy and patience. 

When it comes to addressing defiance, there's no one-size-fits-all solution, as it often stems from complex emotional needs. Exploring root causes, such as anxiety or unmet emotional needs, is essential for effective intervention. By creating a supportive environment where children feel heard and understood, caregivers can help them develop healthier coping mechanisms and problem-solving skills. Building a strong foundation of trust and communication is key to effectively managing defiance, empowering children to express their needs and emotions in a constructive manner.

Moreover, maintaining a soft, calm demeanor is essential when communicating with anxious individuals, as it creates a safe and comforting environment for them to express their feelings. Using supportive language and sharing personal experiences can help foster trust and understanding, showing them that they're not alone in their struggles. Also, validating their emotions and providing reassurance can further strengthen the bond and encourage open communication, ultimately aiding in the management of anxiety.

In our approach, we prioritize depth therapy techniques to uncover these underlying issues and tailor our support accordingly, recognizing that a holistic understanding is key to meaningful progress. While cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) has its merits, it's essential to recognize when other approaches, such as somatic work or exposure-response prevention (ERP), may be more beneficial, particularly when individuals are dysregulated and unable to access their frontal lobes effectively.

Supporting anxious kids with expert care.

Recognizing the brain's tendency to focus on the negative reinforces the importance of patience and empathy, especially with anxious children. Additionally, acknowledging the impact of anxiety on various aspects of life, including education and social interactions, highlights the need for comprehensive support and understanding. Whether dealing with internalized or externalized behaviors, prioritizing self-regulation and calmness can positively influence outcomes in managing anxiety.

The pandemic has greatly affected our normal routines and social interactions and this has also led to increased feelings of isolation and uncertainty among teens. As a result, issues like anxiety, depression, and defiance have become more prevalent. Comprehensive support systems that address both the emotional and practical needs of teens are crucial during these challenging times. This includes access to mental health professionals, supportive peers, and resources for coping strategies. 

Additionally, expert care extends beyond individual therapy sessions to involve collaboration with parents, teachers, and other caregivers to create a cohesive support network that reinforces positive behaviors and fosters resilience. By offering comprehensive and compassionate care, expert professionals empower anxious children to build confidence, develop resilience, and thrive despite their anxiety challenges.

Additionally, fostering open communication channels within families and schools can help identify early signs of distress and provide timely interventions. By prioritizing holistic support, communities can better equip teens to navigate and overcome the mental health challenges exacerbated by the pandemic.

Get started with natural solutions for kids and teens with anxiety by getting the Natural Anxiety Relief Kit. Learn more. 

Natural Anxiety Relief Kit

For additional resources, you may check out the following:

➡️ Join our FREE Natural Parenting Community to receive science-backed resources for your child and family. Join here.

➡️ Get help from Dr. Roseann and her team. Apply here. 

➡️ “Is it ADHD or something else?” Take the quiz. 

Dr. Roseann Capanna-Hodge: Revolutionizing Children’s Mental Health

 
Dr. Roseann Capanna-Hodge’s podcast, It’s Gonna be OK!™: Science-Backed Solutions for Children’s Behavior and Mental Health, is in the top 2% globally. The podcast empowers parents with natural, science-backed solutions to improve children’s self-regulation and calm their brains. Each episode delivers expert advice and practical strategies, making it indispensable for parents of neurodivergent children or those with behavioral or mental health challenges.

Dr. Roseann, founder of The Global Institute of Children’s Mental Health and Dr. Roseann, LLC, created the Neurotastic™ Brain Formulas and BrainBehaviorReset® method. With her extensive experience, she provides families with hope and effective strategies to manage conditions like ADHD, anxiety, OCD, and PANS/PANDAS. 

Forbes has called her “A thought leader in children’s mental health,” highlighting her revolutionary impact on mental health education and treatment. Through her podcast and innovative methods, Dr. Roseann continues to transform how we approach, treat and understand children’s mental health.

Dr. Roseann Neurotastic Sales
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