by Joanne Chang (Founder of Owl Academy)
Busy, busy, busy! Teens these days don't seem to get much of a break. Gone are the days when we had the luxury to daydream and play without a care after the school bell rang. With little time to catch their breath and in the face of high expectations, many teens these days struggle with anxiety. If ignored or poorly managed, the situation could worsen and give rise to other mental health challenges, especially depression. Teens may also develop harmful coping mechanisms such as unhealthy eating habits and self-harm. The anxiety could also result in irregular sleep patterns and sleep of poor quality. These two factors alone bring with them a wide range of problems.
Sometimes teens find it easier to share their emotional struggles with a teacher whom they trust. They fear worrying their loved ones. Even if teens do not explicitly express their difficulties, a skilled teacher can tell. Teachers need to pay close attention to their students' emotional states. This is particularly important for teenagers as the hormonal changes they are going through can cause emotional disturbances, even in the absence of other triggers. Consequently, I strongly believe that parents and teachers need to work together to help teenagers who need support to cope with emotional issues. It takes a village to raise a child. Teachers and parents are allies as we have a common goal – to help the teen grow up well and happy.
What works in reducing anxiety?
In recent years, many worldwide have turned to mindfulness as a means to quieten the mind and focus on the present. This allows us to not worry about the future or fret about the past. I have taken a few mindfulness courses and practised it nightly. It is not a panacea but I found it helpful.
Mindfulness apps like Headspace and Calm have been positively reviewed. Here are 5 free mindfulness apps. I find that the guided meditation recordings help me to relax as I slow my breathing down and pay full attention to my breath.
If you're keen to take a mindfulness course, Singapore's Centre for Mindfulness offers programmes for the public that are targeted at parents, teens and children.
What can parents do?
Check out the following guide from the National Association of School Psychologists for helpful tips.