“As moms, we’re big problem solvers,” says Kate O’Rourke, certified life coach and host of the Reclaim Your Life with Kate podcast, who joins Leslie on the show to discuss the increased rate of anxiety experienced by teens–particularly girls–in the wake of the pandemic. As a school psychologist, Kate is well versed in the issues anxious teens face as they return to school–including a major resistance to doing just that.
As a single mother of two, she also understands the tendency for mothers to feel guilty about their children’s anxiety issues and their often ill-advised attempts to solve the problem. Recognizing that anxiety is a natural and necessary response, she explains the difference between a “normal” level of anxiety in response to, say, tests and grades, versus something more debilitating.
As the ones who know their children best, parents should trust their instincts to tell them if something is off and whether it’s time to seek professional guidance for their kids. For their part, moms can practice modeling, validating the child’s feelings (something parents often fail to do when they think they’re being “supportive”), asking the child to gauge the severity of their perceived threat, and engaging in co-regulation. Teen girls, especially, are facing increasing pressure to be perfect, and parents should be honest about where those pressures are coming from.
Your teen may not necessarily respond right away and that’s OK, too. The point is to take self-inventory without any of the shame or guilt moms too often place on themselves.
• “We all have anxiety. It's there for a purpose, right? It's for survival. If we weren't anxious about the noise that we heard in the bushes, if we didn't worry that it might be a tiger and act and run away, we're getting eaten by the tiger. So anxiety is a survival technique that is still necessary.” (8:26 | Kate)
• “In situations where if you think that you would be nervous or anxious about something, it would be typical that your teen would be anxious in that moment. But when it's really impacting them, if they're not going out with friends anymore like they used to, if they love basketball, but they won't try out for the team, if it's just really impacting the things that they used to enjoy and they're, they're not able to get over those hurdles, then it might be a sign that it's time to reach out and get some help.” (10:53 | Kate)
• “It's very easy to question as a mom, when your kid engages in what are just typical developmental behaviors, if there's something really wrong, I need to be concerned, this is a problem I have to solve.’ We're big problem solvers.” (13:26 | Kate)
• “As a mom, what we often want to say is, ‘Oh, sweetie, you have straight A's, you're so smart, you're going to be fine.’ You're gonna find that can feel really invalidating to someone that is in that spiral. It can also send the message that you shouldn't feel anxious right now, this is something wrong with you.” (16:18 | Kate)
• “I say this with so much love as an anxious mom that has an anxious child, we model that for them. And so the best way to help your kid is for you to go first. If you recognize this in yourself, if you even related to the anxious spiral that we're talking about, the best way to help them is for you to go first and learn about your own brain and your own system and why anxiety is there and how to handle it because then you can offer that to them.” (24:44 | Kate)
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Six Steps to Help Your Teen Cultivate Confidence: https://wondrous-leader-9073.ck.page/bc048dbe7b
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