Divorce is difficult for all members of the family. Not only do the adults seeking marriage dissolution have to cope with the reality of permanent separation, but the kids of the family must also adjust to the changes. Teens are especially sensitive to the effects of divorce, which is why parents must take more time to ensure their adolescents are coping well. Here are a few tips for helping teens manage their anxiety amid a divorce.
Maintain a Sense Of Normalcy
Anxiety arises out of a fear of the unknown. Your teen may have to live in two households once the divorce is final and may even be forced to change schools as a result of the separation. In PA, one parent traveling one hour to the other parent's house is considered relocation. Your teen has to deal with the stress of it all depending on where you live and how your custody battle resolves.
Creating a routine is the best way to establish normalcy after a divorce. Perhaps you should buy a planner for your teen and walk them through the week so there are no surprises in terms of visitation. It is also a good idea to ask for your child's input so they do not feel left out of the plan.
Your former spouse should understand a few things if there is an order for joint custody in place. First, the lines of communication should remain open. The marriage may have failed, but your co-parenting tactics cannot fail your teen.
You need to have regular discussions on what works and what should be exchanged to ensure that your child is coping with the divorce. Both you and your former spouse should take note if behavioral changes ensue. Teens tend to act out their anxiety with undesirable actions that need adult attention if they feel they can't talk to you about how they're feeling.
In addition to the lines of communication remaining open, you should also establish house rules when it comes to dating. Your teen does not need to meet every person you or your spouse sees. In fact, such changes can increase anxiety as the child becomes unclear of the level of stability you have in your life. It is best, then, to introduce your child to a partner only if you believe the relationship to be serious.
Do Self-Esteem Checks
Teens deal with self-esteem issues for several reasons. For example, your teen may have braces or Invisalign to fix their teeth. While approximately 47% of Invisalign teen users said they felt a boost in confidence after undergoing the procedure, it doesn't mean that your teen feels secure with their physical appearance all of the time. With a divorce on their hands as well, your teen may be feeling extra insecure these days.
You as the parent must be proactive when it comes to your teen's self-esteem. Checking in just to see how your adolescent feels about school, their appearance, and their friendships are good ways to pick up on whether your child is okay. Talk to your teen about obtaining the help of a mental health counselor if you think they're having a difficult time and needs to speak with a professional outside the home.
Take Note of Warning Signs
Increased irritability is a big sign of anxiety in your teen. Sleep difficulties may also be an indicator of anxiety after a divorce. A teen whose grades begin to fall after marriage dissolution is not always slacking off on their studies. Anxiety causes a child to lack focus, which can inevitably lead to lower test scores and missed homework assignments.
You should take action immediately if you notice any of these warning signs of anxiety in your teen. The best way to combat nervousness is to have an open, yet comfortable, conversation with your teen about their feelings. Make sure to stress over the fact that you are never too busy to listen.
Take Care of Yourself, Too
As a parent in a stressful situation with an anxious child, you may forget to take care of yourself. You may notice that you're developing acne or wrinkles, but guess what: wrinkles are a classic early sign of inevitable aging. Therefore, they shouldn't be something to really worry about. Instead, focus on your own mental health and practice self-care regularly. You're not only helping yourself but your children will benefit too.
Anxiety often takes a backseat when an individual is comfortable in their skin, so give your teenager the tools to manage their anxiety. Even during a divorce, it's important for everyone in the family to take care of their mental and physical health. Utilize these tips to help your teen today.
Devin is a writer and an avid reader. When she isn't lost in a book or writing, she's busy in the kitchen trying to perfect her slow cooker recipes. You can find her poetry published in The Adirondack Review and Cartridge Lit.