Supporting our youth – how we can help

Supporting our youth has become increasingly important. Children today are suffering from anxiety more and more from a younger age. That’s what I’ve started to notice and experience in my every day work. How is this possible? Are we being too hard on the parents of today? Or are the parents of today not being as hard on their children?

Working in a school environment has taught me so much about parenting, and the kind of parent I would one day like to be. These lessons have been tough and interesting to learn.

I often have children in my office in tears because they’re not coping with the amount of school work they receive. I’m not really sure if the work load has increased since I was in school, but are we supporting our youth of today? Are we teaching them how to cope properly in stressful situations?

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Photo Credit: Unsplash and Dimitri de Vries

When they come into my office with panic-stricken faces, unsure what to do, I help them break it down. I’ll pull out a piece of paper and together we’ll write down everything they feel they’re struggling with.

From there, we have a look at each of the things individually and break them down even more. I try to get them to look at each thing from a third party perspective. How serious is this? Is this manageable? Do you think you’ve been overthinking it and perhaps blown it out of proportion in your mind?

Sometimes they’ll say yes, and sometimes they’ll say no. But allowing them to visually see the different areas they’re struggling with makes such a huge difference. More often than not, when they’ve put their concerns onto paper, there aren’t very many concerns and each thing can be addressed in its own box.

We need to encourage the youth of today to look at things more objectively. Anxiety medication should not be the first port of call for coping (a conversation for another day). But we can’t brush them off either. What they’re dealing with are huge concerns to them. They are scary. And they do feel overwhelmed.

When they’re battling and they turn to you for help or guidance, be there for them. Be there to support them. If we create an environment to empower them and give them tools to help them to cope, they will be okay in the big world out there. They’ll manage just fine on their own two feet. They’re still young and they’re still learning. And all we need to do is love and support them in the process.

By no means am I saying we should completely enable their behaviour. And it doesn’t mean ignoring when they haven’t met deadlines for projects and assignments — they need to be held accountable for their work, and they need to take ownership and responsibility. But guide them, love them and show them ways in which you cope in stressful situations. By sharing your own stories too, they’ll feel more at ease about opening up and a bit more comfortable about the fact that they will manage and they will make it through.

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