As parents introduce themselves during each session of PEP’s Thriving with Teens Class I lead on Friday mornings, the word “anxiety” is overwhelmingly used when describing the issues they face with their teen. In my work as an independent college counselor working with high schoolers selecting and applying to college, I witness teens’ anxiety play out in a variety of ways from extreme avoidance of tasks to full on meltdowns when they feel overwhelmed. And as a parent of 3 young adults, I experienced daily life with teenagers struggling to handle increasing anxiety about their academic, social and emotional lives.
Whether the cause is increased use of technology and social media or the overwhelming amount of choices teens face today, the fact is that anxiety is rampant among adolescents. And how they are dealing with that anxiety — productively or destructively — has real ramifications for us as parents and for our society as a whole. The number of teens self-medicating their anxiety through illegal and excessive use of drugs and alcohol and or even taking the extreme steps of suicide is on the rise. Today’s parents can no longer assume that anxiety is something that happens to other people’s children — the odds are we all will have a child who is dealing with a significant level of anxiety. Which means, as parents, we must equip our parenting toolboxes with the knowledge and strategies we need to help our teens identify anxiety and the steps they can take to manage through it.
Besides reading Dr. Michael Bradley’s books, I’ve had the benefit of hearing him speak multiple times. He never disappoints. He not only has the knowledge of today’s adolescents through his work with them, he shares information on how to help raise our teens to be healthy, responsible, productive adults in a simple, effective, “why didn’t I think of that” kind of way. As a PEP educator, independent college counselor, and parent, I’m looking forward to hearing him speak again Thursday, Nov. 16 on “Crazy-Stressed: Saving Today’s Overwhelmed Teens and Tweens.” I’m certain the information he will share will provide insight not just on saving our teens and tweens, but perhaps also saving a bit of my sanity as well.