There has been no shortage of national and global disaster in the recent years. Feelings of fear, powerlessness and uncertainty have been felt by many adults and young people across the globe in the face of pandemic, war, natural disaster, and gun violence. Here we look at some practical ways to support the teenagers in your life to manage their anxiety around disaster.
These feelings of anxiety and worry have become normalised given the quantity and duration of recent world events, but our young people still need guidance and support on how to address their feelings of unease.
Listening to your teenager and providing them the space to offload their concerns, experiences and worries can lessen the weight of their anxiety. Especially when they are met with attention, understanding and empathy from an adult.
See our Raise blog for tips on 'How to start conversations with teenagers' here.
As well as establishing open communication for safe but hard conversations with your teen, there are other practical ways to guide and support them to manage their anxiety and uncertainty around disaster:
Mindful Media Consumption
Exposure to distressing media content is known to increase anxiety. Being mindful of the media your teenager is being exposed to at home is a really practical and efficient way to support your teen to 'turn off' and catch a break from overwhelming thoughts and feelings created by real world disasters and fear-inducing headlines. One of the best ways to encourage this is by reassessing your own media intake and demonstrating more mindful media consumption yourself. Note: Even when being more mindful, heavy exposure to disaster in conversations and the media is a reality of parenting this generation of young people. The idea is not to prevent your teens from this entirely but to be more mindful of when/what you broadcast in the home.
Make a positive difference
At Raise, we know all about the feel good feeling of giving back. Rather than your teen feeling powerless in the face of disaster, it can be really empowering for your teen to be encouraged and supported to take action by volunteering for a cause they feel passionately about or giving back to others in need in some way. Realising their own capabilities and the positive difference they can make can help to manage anxiety by increasing confidence, resilience and adaptability. Note: You can keep it simple. For example, when the cooler months come along, your teen might like to organise their wardrobe and find a few warmer items to donate to charity.
Encouraging your teen to take time to care of themselves can increase their own ability to manage their anxious feelings and thoughts. Defining self-care together with your teen can be a great place to start, as its an opportunity to explore what this actually means to them. You might even ask questions like, "when do you feel most relaxed and comfortable?" to support them to think of ways they might like to engage in self-care.
Note: reachout.com also has a fun self-care quiz here with self-care ideas to promote increased well-being.
Want to help a young person in your local community? Sign up to become a mentor at raise.org.au