How to Talk to Your Teen About Anxiety

There’s a myth that talking about anxiety only makes it worse, as if making someone think about being anxious will make them anxious. This is false, as it assumes that anxiety is only triggered when teens are actively thinking about what makes them anxious. Anxiety disorders don’t work like that. For many, anxiety is more than just moments of stress and nervousness – anxiety is an overarching condition that affects people even when they aren’t actively thinking about it.


In reality, talking about anxiety is the first step to helping your adolescent overcome it. Here are some tips for how to go about this without being “naggy” or exerting too much pressure.


Let them know that anxiety is normal


The first thing you can do to set you and your teen on a positive path is to define what anxiety is and what it is not. Anxiety is a physical or behavioral response to thoughts, usually concerning the unknown. Anxiety is normal and all humans experience it. Anxiety can become a problem when you let it affect your day-to-day life, social interactions, and relationships with others.


What anxiety is not is an illness or disease. If your teen knows that their anxiety, while heightened and possibly problematic, is not outside the boundaries of normal thought, they will be more likely to open up to you about it.


“Educate yourself about anxiety and its adaptive role in helping humans survive,” says  “Explain the physical changes in the human body when danger is perceived (sweaty hands, blood to extremities, rapid heartbeat, shallow breathing etc.). By explaining these you are helping to normalize anxiety as well as assisting your child in identifying and understanding the way their own body reacts when anxious.”


Let them know that their anxiety is real


Whether you think there is any rational basis in your teen’s anxiety is pointless. It is real to them, no matter what you think. It’s incredibly important to make sure they know that you recognize their anxiety as real. If not, they will have a harder time opening up to you.


“Does hearing ‘Don’t worry. Relax!’ help you when you’re anxious about something? It probably doesn’t comfort your child much, either. It’s important to acknowledge that your child’s fears are real. Your empathy will increase the chances that your child will accept your guidance and be motivated to work on reducing anxiety,” notes


Encourage a dialog, but don’t nag them to ‘get over it’


This is where the delicate nature of parenting really comes into play. You need to encourage an open dialog with your child but you need to prevent yourself from overstepping and moving into the “pressuring” territory.


You should empathize with your child’s anxiety but you should not encourage it. For example, you should tell them you understand that they don’t want to go to school today for whatever reason, but you should not let them stay home from school.


Be specific about the anxiety


When discussing anxiety with your teen, it’s not enough to just accept that they are stressed out, nervous, or scared. You need to do what you can to make the anxiety as specific as possible and provide encouragement in the form of possible solutions.


Here’s an example: If your teen is worried about falling behind at school and expresses specific anxiety about not understanding coursework, then you can provide a specific solution like tutoring (don’t worry; you can usually negotiate on price) or talking to the teacher. If your child just says they are nervous about school, it’s hard to help.


The bottom line is that you must normalize, accept, but also eventually push back against your teen’s anxiety. In order to do any of this, however, you must build a comfortable situation where teens will be responsive to a dialog. Once you begin talking about the specifics of anxiety, you’ll be able to offer possible solutions.



Noah writes for WellnessVoyager and enjoys offering his travel expertise to readers.


Photo Credit:

All Saints Episcopal Day School Tour


Tours are conducted during the school day to provide prospective families an opportunity to see the school in action. For families exploring admission for the 2017-2018 school year, tours are offered on the following Tuesdays:

September 20, 2016
September 27, 2016
October 11, 2016
November 22, 2016 
As space is limited, advance registration is required. To register, click here:
Please arrive by 8:45 AM for a brief presentation by the Head of School and a glance at our Spirituality assembly, followed by a tour. This event is intended for parents only.

Keeping active in the cold

child playing


Movement and exercise is important for everyone, but especially for young, developing kids.  As children’s nervous systems are maturing, they need movement to help them make sense of the world.  Children sometimes can improve their concentration and performance in school when they have movement activities interspersed throughout the day.  Active movement help children to know their physical boundaries and can help them improve their general health.  Our lives are getting more and more sedentary, especially with all the fun activities we can do with computers and all the great videos and shows for children.  It may be especially hard to find movement opportunities for our children now that the weather is getting colder.  Here are some ideas to incorporate movement activities indoors.


A mini trampoline designed for indoor use with children can  be used, especially if you have little space.  Exercise balls like you’d have for pilates can be fun for kids as well.  If you have more space, ride on toys and scooter boards can be used indoors.  Mattresses on the floor can be used for jumping on as well.  All of this equipment would require close adult supervision, of course.  To make it even better, join in on the fun with your kids sometimes!  Wrestling with a careful adult or older child involves lots of fun movement.  You can put tape on the floor (painter’s tape leaves little, if any, residue) and create lines to walk on, or jump across.  You can make shapes with the tape and have the children jump between circles, square, triangles, etc.  You could also make parallel lines with the tape and call it a river so the kids can climb into a box and row down the river.  Let your imagination soar!


Playing in the snow can be fun for kids of all ages!  You might head for indoor play places such as Gymboree or My Gym.  Other indoor attractions such as Liberty Science Center, the New Jersey Children’s Museum and indoor water parks can also encourage movement.


You can put on some lively music and dance.  Stop the music and play freeze dance.  Or you can make up dance moves and have everyone imitate each other’s moves.  You can toss a balloon in the air, or use rackets or paddles to hit it around.  You can take a sheet and play parachute and put the balloons in the parachute.  A lot of young kids like to have an adult hold onto either end of the sheet and have the child sit in the middle while the adults swing them back and forth.  You can play bean bag toss and have bins or garbage cans to throw the bean bags in.  Or you can crumble up newspapers and throw them around, throw them at targets, or throw them into bins.  You can play charades.  You can also walk like different animals – crab walk, jump like a frog, walk like an elephant – whatever!


These are ideas to get you started.  There are a lot of things you can do with children to get them moving inside.  If you have special equipment, you can use it.  But you can also just use your imagination and things you have around the house.  Have fun with it!


Linda Velwest is a pediatric occupational therapist working with early intervention. She also teaches Autism Movement Therapy classes


Parenting in Public – Saying Goodbye

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With the start of the school year, the summer comes to an end. Often, it’s a time for goodbyes. Whether it’s a grandparent going back home, or a friend moving away, or a teacher finding another job – goodbyes are inevitable. Children who get easily attached are more affected than others; all we can do is cushion the blow.

  • Finding closure

I remind my kids of the departure the day before. We usually make a goodbye card for the person leaving and/or wrap a simple, meaningful gift – it could be a framed picture of the two together or a book that they both enjoyed. During the activity, I explain why the person is leaving, and where they are going. We talk about all the memories and I encourage them to express their feelings. We talk about if and when they will see them again and ways in which they can stay in touch if that’s a possibility. If not, I tell them that they will always have the happy memories of the time spent together. This process provides a sense of closure for the kids and prepares them for the farewell. When the time comes to say goodbye, the children having already processed their feelings are able to separate easily with limited tears and without beseeching the person to stay.

  • Cheering up!

I plan an activity that the children enjoy—a trip to the park or a play date—right after the goodbye so that the children’s focus shifts away from the sadness to excitement.

  • Staying connected

I also make a concerted effort to stay connected with the people they are attached to so that if they ask for them, they can talk to them over the phone or Skype, or even visit if possible. It provides security in that the children don’t feel abandoned.

  • Explaining goodbyes

Even if children seem unaffected by it, it’s still a good idea to talk to them briefly about the person leaving. Children, especially the younger ones, aren’t able to verbalize their feelings and might find it confusing. It’s safer to explain it than to ignore it. “The most painful goodbyes are the ones that are never said and never explained.”


Note: This is the final part of the series, “Parenting in Public.” As a parent of two little boys, I have tried and tested the techniques shared in this blog and I hope you were able to find some of these ideas helpful. Thank you all for reading! Until next time…


Sara Zaidi is a child therapist and the creator of Building Healthy Minds and Happy Families. With advanced degrees in psychology and mental health and over ten years of clinical experience, Sara helps parents navigate through the challenging early stages of their children’s lives by explaining the cognitive, emotional and social development of children from a neurological and behavioral perspective. Read her parenting blog at and visit to learn more about her work.



Back to School Readiness- 10 Tips to get you Ready for Back to School

Schools  in jersey city Back to School

It is August and we are currently in the middle of a heat wave. Hectic shopping for back to school is the last thing you want to think about as a parent or the child. However it’s necessary to start not only shopping but preparing to reset your schedule for the school calendar and the first days of school.

As an educator for over 13 years, I love the “back to school’ feeling of watching students looking nervous about what’s to come and parents eagerly awaiting to meet the teacher of their children. Sometimes though the entire process may be overwhelming for all involved.  So as I research and review my top 10 tips, I came across some back to school tips offered by Kids.Gov that I would love to share.

10 Tips to Get You Ready for Back to School- Kids.Gov

1. Schedule time with teachers. Keep an open dialog with school staff to help your children thrive.

2. Get your shots. Some schools require immunization records for entry. Find out if your child needs any vaccines before school starts.

3. Ease into the school routine. A good night sleep is key to a successful school day. Preschoolers need 11-12 hours of sleep a night, school-age children need at least 10 hours, while teens need 9-10 hours.

4. Pack a healthy and safe lunch. Choose a balanced meal for your children’s lunchbox and make sure you keep hot foods hot and cold foods cold. Low-income families may qualify for free and reduced price school meals.

5. Shop smart. Some states have sales tax holidays in August. Make a list, know what you need, and shop the sales. Knowing where the bargains are will help you save.

6. Talk to your kids about online safety. Identity theft, bullying or inappropriate behavior can happen online. Teach your children about online safety as use social media to connect with old and new friends at school.

7. Plan and practice how to get to school. If your kids’ school or school system provides bus transportation, find the nearest stop to your home and the pick-up and drop-off times. Teach your kids to be safe whether by car, bus, bicycle or walking.

8. Teach time management. Leisure time, sports, and “screen time” can interfere with homework. Keep your family’s schedule on time with these tips.

9. Make sure kids are insured. Your child could qualify for free or low-cost insurance through Medicaid or the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP).

10. Listen to your kids. Anxiety and nerves can take over, so provide a safe environment at home and in the classroom. Talk to kids about bullying and what to do if they encounter it.


All in all, back to school readiness does not have to be too stressful. If you prepare  yourself appropriately you will have enough time to enjoy the last few weeks of summer.

schools  in jersey city : Back to School


Nashima Harvey, Ed.M

Educational Consultant

Parenting in Public – Trying to Leave

It’s always a struggle getting kids to leave when they are having fun. They aren’t bound by time constraints like adults and this can result in a battle. There are a few strategies to use to make it less painful for parents and children.

  • Saying the right thing when you’re ready to leave

Before we arrive wherever it is that we are going, I remind the children what time we have to leave i.e. after lunch or before nap etc. Once that time comes, I walk over to them, ask them what they are doing and then say, “it looks like you’re having fun, play for a little bit longer and then start wrapping up when you’re ready, we just have a few more minutes left.” They are more likely to listen when I walk over to them and they know that I understand how involved they are, as opposed to yelling it across from a room when they will either choose to ignore me or yell back, saying that they don’t want to leave yet. Allowing them to “wrap up when they are ready” gives them some sense of control and they are less likely to protest when its time to leave. I also remind them of what we have planned next so they have something to look forward to.

  • Time warnings

Next, I give them three time warnings – at ten minutes, five minutes and two minutes. At one minute I begin packing our things, putting on my coat etc. At the five minute mark I ask them to begin finishing up whatever it is that they are doing. It’s essential to allow children to complete whatever task they are in the middle before asking them to leave. It’s difficult for them to disengage because they don’t have the same sense of time and responsibility that we do.

  • Incorporating clean up in their play

If the children are having a hard time putting things away or disengaging, I incorporate the departure in their play. For example, if one is playing with trucks or cars, I tell him to park them in the right spot for the night so they can also rest. Sometimes they don’t want another child touching their things, so I ask them to give it to the teacher to hold it for them or put it on a higher shelf until next time. (It’s easier to do this than to get in to an argument over why it’s okay for other children to play with it– that’s a discussion for another time).

  • Modeling behavior

I ask them to thank the hosts, give a hug and say goodbye. If they are reluctant I model behavior for them and we have the “how-to-be-polite” discussion on our way home! The travails of parenthood!


Sara Zaidi is a child therapist and the creator of Building Healthy Minds and Happy Families. With advanced degrees in psychology and mental health and over ten years of clinical experience, Sara helps parents navigate through the challenging early stages of their children’s lives by explaining the cognitive, emotional and social development of children from a neurological and behavioral perspective. Read her parenting blog at and visit to learn more about her work.