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Academic Anxiety and What it Can do to Your Teen

Anxiety is becoming an increasingly common issue for American teens.  According to the National Education Association, 70% of teens say anxiety is a major problem amongst themselves and their peers. One of the primary causes of anxiety in teens is pressure to perform well in school and get into college. This pressure doesn’t have to stem from an outside factor or person. Oftentimes, teens are putting pressure on themselves to reach an impossible level of perfection, leading to increased anxiety and self-esteem issues. It’s easy to feel swallowed by the stress of school, and it can be incredibly difficult for teens to live up to the expectations they’ve set for themselves, so understanding and learning about what your child is going through can really help them tackle their anxiety head on. 

What to watch out for:

Teenagers like privacy, so they’ll often hide things from their parents. This means you might not know what your teen is going through without understanding the signs to look out for. 

  • Irritability: Uncontrolled anxiety can often present as irritability. Anxiety might make your teen feel “on edge,” and cause them to lash out at you and others.

  • Insomnia: Overthinking about school performance, upcoming tests, or the college application and admission process can make it very difficult to sleep.  A lack of sleep can significantly impact someone’s overall health and ability to function optimally.

  • Avoidance: Fear of failure can cause your teen to avoid speaking up in class and avert from more challenging opportunities that would assist them in reaching their potential.

  • Poor School Performance: Anxiety symptoms are associated with memory issues and brain function which can lead to test scores below your child’s capabilities.

  • Behavioral Issues: An anxious teen might exhibit aggressive, agitated, withdrawn or isolating behavior. 

Impacts  

Anxiety related to school performance can easily become a lifelong battle and impact a person in a variety of ways.

Procrastination: Since anxiety can affect cognitive abilities, assignments can be even harder. Anxious teens may keep putting off assignments due to decreased motivation and feelings of not being good or smart enough.

Deteriorating Relationships: Social withdrawal and agitation can have a negative impact on your child’s relationship with their friends, family, and teachers. 

Feelings of Defeat/Depression: All of the symptoms of anxiety can easily hurt someone’s self confidence and lead to helplessness. The cycle of emotions can feel impossible to recover from. 

What now? 

Parenting teens is already a difficult task-but when parenting a child with anxiety, there are some techniques that you can use that make it easier. Keeping an open line of communication and staying active in their life is important, but make sure you aren’t being too overbearing. Facing anxiety may seem overwhelming and teens often lack coping mechanisms to deal with it. Giving them tools like breathing exercises, meditation, and even yoga have been shown to reduce stress. Remember, the goal isn’t to eliminate anxiety all together but to help manage it. Helping your child learn to control their anxiety will, over time, diminish it. 

Educating yourself on what your child is going through and working together to address their anxiety can be very helpful, but if your child’s struggles feel beyond your capabilities, seek professional help from a therapist.  WellFam is here for you. 

Halle S

About the Author: 

Halle Schwam is a 17 Year Old Senior at Oak Ridge High School in El Dorado Hills, CA. As WellFam’s newest news contributor she writes about her experiences navigating high school life, and the various stressors and mental health challenges teens face at school and at home.