LINKS & RESOURCES
Teen Mental Health
General Parent Resources
The most visited site on the web for information about health, behaviour, and development from before birth through teen years. Information for parents, teens, children, and educators:
The Teenage Brain - FRONTLINE chronicles how scientists are exploring the recesses of the brain and finding some new explanations for why adolescents behave the way they do. These discoveries could change the way we parent, teach, or perhaps even understand our teenagers.
Are you or someone you know a victim of bullying? Bullying.org is dedicated to increasing the awareness of bullying and to preventing, resolving and eliminating bullying in society.
Curious about the teenage brain? A peek at some of the information found in a new study:
"The 'use it or lose it' principle: If a teen is doing music or sports or academics, those are the cells and connections that will be hardwired. If they're lying on the couch or playing video games or [watching] MTV, those are the cells and connections that are going to survive."
"Some say these sleep debts can have a powerful effect on a teen's ability to learn and retain new material -- especially abstract concepts like physics, math, and calculus."
For more information, follow the link on the left side of this page.
What is anxiety?
Anxiety is the subjective, internal experience of feeling alarmed or apprehensive. Anxiety can be experienced whether the 'threat' is real and specific (e.g. a big test) or vague (e.g. a general sense that something 'bad' could happen). Children and youth are sometimes not able to identify all the sources of their anxiety. While many times the trigger of an anxious response is clear (e.g. a music recital, a sick relative, etc.), sometimes children and youth may feel distressed and agitated but not be able to know exactly 'why' or what is causing the anxious feelings. Some people can be particularly apprehensive when things are unknown or uncertain such as on the first day of school, or a trip. Even art or gym class can be intimidating because these can make students feel they may be evaluated by others, and expectations can be unclear or ambiguous (e.g. there may be no 'right way' for an art project). Anxiety likes to 'fill in the blanks' in these types of situations, and as a result, children who are prone to it may repeatedly seek reassurance about their worries
It is important to remember that although uncomfortable, anxiety is a natural, adaptive response that is actually meant to protect us and keep us out of harms way. We all experience some level of anxiety on a regular basis. It is often referred to as the "fight flight freeze" response.
Anxious children and youth can show a range of very different behaviours. They may be overly controlling and resistant to doing certain things that may trigger their anxiety. They may be clingy, crying, fidgety, argumentative and stubborn, or may be quiet and withdrawn. Remember, as a parent, you know your child's natural response on a day-by-day basis, so you will know when your child's behaviour is not typical or is changing. It is normal that a stressful life event or transition will trigger some of these behaviours. Parents need to watch if the level of anxiety is out of sync with the perceived 'threat' or if the symptoms persist beyond the time that your child should be able to settle back into his/her normal routine.
Other signs of anxiety or excessive stress in children and youth:
When is it a problem?
Mild to moderate levels of anxiety can motivate us to do well, as it keeps us alert and ready to deal with challenges. However, anxiety can be a problem when it is so high and persistent that it prevents us from participating in normal everyday life experiences. For children and youth, this might mean avoiding things like school or social events, having difficulty trying new things, being away from parents or caregivers, speaking to others, sleeping well, going on the school trip, or just generally feeling confident and capable to handle life's challenges.
If you notice that your child is displaying high anxiety suddenly and for several weeks, it is affecting daily functioning, and there isn't a life event or transition that would indicate this level of reaction, it might be time to consult your family physician or a mental health professional to see if you and your child could benefit from some additional support.