Q • Our 14-year-old daughter has only been in school for two weeks and she’s already freaking out about things. When she gets anxious, so do we. We want her to have a good year, but it seems everything we say is met with an eye roll and a “you don’t understand!” What can her dad and I do to help her calm down and let her know we are here for her without adding to her stress?
From a reader • The best thing that we found with our four teenagers is to find someone that they respect to talk with. It can be a relative, friend, teacher in school, counselor, etc., that they don’t find threatening and are comfortable talking to. For example, they all take Spanish and feel right at home talking to their teacher about anything that they choose. She is very in tune with teenagers, and they all trust her. She doesn’t share anything with us about their conversations unless she feels that it might warrant it. Sometimes I send her an email and ask what’s going on with one of them and she offers her own perspective. I’m super grateful for our situation. Maybe your daughter can also find someone to share about her anxiety with and help ease her stress. — Cass R. in San Diego
From Jodie Lynn • Stress is running high among students this school year for the same reasons as everyone else. Uncertainty breeds discomfort and fear, and things are definitely a bit uncertain right now.
This is exacerbated for kids of all ages by the return of in-person classes.
From wearing masks to having to put up with the impact of bullies once again, from dealing with peer pressure to working on social skills, from separation anxiety to even grief, among other things, they have a lot of stressful things to manage.
Being schooled from home via remote or part-time classes alleviated some of these worries but also introduced new ones.
I think that the advice of the above reader is golden. Finding an adult for your daughter to talk to that she feels comfortable doing so with, a trusted confidant, might be extremely helpful. It’s important to let her choose her own person, within reason.
If and when she chooses to do this, try not to worry about what the discussions are about and don’t ask her a bunch of questions. If anything concerns the adult individual that she is sharing with, that person will most likely come to you.
Don’t forget that she’s also at that age where many kids think that their parents couldn’t possibly understand anything that they are going through and that they know way more than they do. In fact, you very well may have had similar feelings when you were her age.
Just be there for her when she does want to talk without any judging or trying to fix her problem (unless she asks you to, which is hard for us to do as parents). If she knows that you’re there to listen, she may end up coming to you more frequently.
Can you help?I will be returning to work in a few weeks and am disappointed that I can’t continue to work from home. I haven’t been to the office in almost 18 months and am feeling sad and actually angry. I have a 6-year-old that just started a new school year, and I was looking forward to volunteering for some of his field trips. How can I set my mind on a positive work experience and stay mentally balanced for my son?
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Jodie Lynn is an award-winning parenting columnist, author of five books and mother to three children. She and her family live in Wildwood.