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Tweens and Anxiety

by Ronald A. Rowe | December 25th, 2014 | School, Tweens

girl anxious (400x399)One of the many challenges facing parents of Tweenagers is to differentiate between a significant issue and “just being a Tween.”  One area that has confounded parents in this generation is the issue of Tween anxiety.  At the age when peer pressure and social conventions begin to weigh heavily on children, some level of anxiety is to be expected.   Academic and athletic pressures can quickly compound the problem.

Anxiety manifests itself in different ways.  Some Tweens will suffer physical symptoms.  There are various forms that this can take but the most common is an upset stomach.  Anxious Tweens will often complain of a stomach ache.  The root cause of stress doesn’t make the discomfort any less real.  Dietary changes and antacids may cure the symptoms, but the core issue must be dealt with or else the anxiety will simply manifest itself in another way.

In addition to physical symptoms such as a stomach ache, anxiety can manifest in assorted behavioral signs.  This is where separating “normal” Tween behavior from signs of a more serious anxiety condition can be tricky.  New – and generally unpleasant – behaviors can be a daily occurrence in a home with Tweens.  Some antisocial tendencies or behavioral changes are to be expected for sure.  But if your Tween makes a whole sail shift toward anxiety and stress you may need to take a closer look.

Tweens who are becoming overly anxious will worry.  A lot.  They worry over things that haven’t happened yet and things that most likely never will.  Straight A students may suddenly get all knotted up thinking that they will fail a test.  Popular kids may start worrying that everyone will laugh at them or that their friends don’t really like them.  Again, some degree of this is a natural part of growing up.  But if your Tween takes it to the level of being paralyzed by worry over highly unlikely events, there may be a deeper issue of anxiety.

The next level of anxiety is avoidance.  Tweens who worry overmuch often think that the best solution is to avoid any chance of failure or ridicule. Children who were eager to answer questions in Elementary school suddenly clam up in Junior High, refusing to volunteer in class for fear of public humiliation.

Tweens in jeopardy of falling into anxiety need reassurance, and lots of it.  Parents need to actively reassure our Tweens, especially in their particular areas of vulnerability.  Yes, you are smart enough.  Yes, you are pretty.  Yes, you are going to do well on this math test.  Work with your Tween to make sure that he or she is prepared for whatever obstacle is causing the anxiety.  Being thoroughly prepared for the big test or audition or what have you is an excellent way to get through a case of the nerves.

Be alert for signs of a more serious anxiety issue.  If your child starts missing school or withdrawing from social and extracurricular groups because of anxiety, it is time to intervene.


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