So your teenager has actually been doing really well with distance learning, and now she's
scared to go back to school. Well, let's talk about that today on Tips on Teens. My name is Kent
Toussaint. I'm a licensed marriage and family therapist, and I specialize in helping kids,
teens, and families live happier lives. I lead two organizations, the group Private Practice
Teen Therapy Center, and the nonprofit 501c3 organization Child and Teen Counseling, both
here in Woodland Hills, California. And every Wednesday at noon, I jump into Facebook Live,
answer your parenting questions. Let's jump into today's question. I have a daughter who is
14 years old. She's always had a little bit of social anxiety her whole life. In school, it was
really hard to get her to raise her hand and participate in class. She was always pretty timid
in large groups when our extended family would come over on holidays and such. And contrary
to most people's experience, she actually was thriving with distance learning
this last year. For whatever reason, she had really come out of her shell in online class, was
the master of the breakout rooms, et cetera. Now that LAUSD has announced a sudden return in
-person classes, she's expressed anxiety about going back to school. What can I say to her to
help her to both ease her anxiety and make her transition back to school smooth? Well, thank
you for your question. It's a great question. First and foremost, I would say be patient. Try
not to just jump in and fix the problem right away. Just let her have her anxiety. Let her have
her fear. It's a normal human experience. We all go through it. When we try to rush people through
anxiety, it just makes anxiety grow bigger. I would sit there and listen. I would let her talk
about it. I would let her talk about what she's concerned about. Then once she feels she's heard,
I would also wanna point out, hey, do you realize that you've actually been succeeding? You've
been socializing. You've been connecting. The breakout
rooms, you've been raising your hand. You've been doing all the things that you're scared to
do and you've been successful at it. And I would talk to her about what she sees. Why is she being
able to do that? Is it just because she's been in her room and she feels safe there? And I would
also bring up the whole analogy of Dumbo, you know, the elephant with big ears that can fly. And
if you remember the movie, at first he has a feather and he feels the magic feather helps him fly
until he realizes he doesn't need the feather. He's always been able to fly all along. He's always
been within himself. And I think for your daughter, it's the same thing. She has the ability
to socialize, to engage, to interact with the people and she doesn't need that feather. She
can do it. And I would talk to her in a way that is confident, that has belief in her, that is warm,
that is patient. Even if she has anxiety, you have a warm confidence in her. And I think it's really
important that you express that
and show that, excuse me, without her feeling pressured. I would talk to her about, again, what
is it, how we can duplicate that in the class. And it may just be that the transition is scary.
She's afraid of the transition. And transitions can be really scary for a lot of people, especially
when we have anxiety because a transition models, or not models, it represents uncertainty.
And anxiety is all about finding certainty in an uncertain world, which can never be found.
And it's this loop that goes around and around and around. So how do we help her transition? How
do we help her find some certainty? Does she have some friends that she's been connecting with?
And do they connect before class and make sure that, hey, at nutrition, we're gonna meet here
on campus and hang out, or at lunch, we're gonna hang out here. So she has something to look forward
to, that she has something that she can count on. I would reach out to the teachers, let them know
that she's a little anxious. So she's,
you know, the teacher can help her there. My hunch is, if she's been able to connect online with
these people, she probably will be able to connect with them in person. If it's still a challenge,
it may be something worth talking to a therapist about, helping her process these feelings
with a trusted professional. I don't know if it's necessary or not, but it's possible. But again,
when our kids are feeling anxious or they're troubled, we wanna jump in and save the day because
it activates our own anxiety. And make sure that your anxiety is kept at bay and that you're calm
and you're there for your kid and it's about your kid's anxiety, not yours. That you're patient
and confident that she can get through this. It's a big question. Thank you for your question.
I'd love to talk to you more about this, or if you have other questions you'd like me to answer,
you can always email us at tipsonteens at teentherapycenter .com. Again, my name is Kent Toussaint
from Teen Therapy Center and Child
and Teen Counseling. We love your questions, keep them coming. We will see you next Wednesday
at noon. Assuming I don't have jury duty. I might have jury duty next week, so we'll see. So I'm
not here, it's because I'm sitting on a jury and weighing someone's innocence or guilt. Anyways,
I'll talk to you again next week, guys. Hopefully, bye -bye.
Transitions Can Be Scary!
Back-to-school anxiety is quickly becoming real for kids now that in-person classes are returning sooner than expected. These kinds of transitions can be really scary for a lot of kids (and parents) because they represent uncertainty. As parents, our kids’ anxiety often activates our own anxiety, and with it our impulse to step in and “save the day.”
It’s important to remember to be there for them and make sure you make it about their anxiety, and not yours. When we try to rush them through it, it normally backfires. If your child was succeeding online, what are some things you can do to help your kid see that they can carry over that success to in-person classes? That’s what this week’s Tips on Teens question is all about.
“I have a daughter who is 14 years old. She’s always had a little bit of social anxiety her whole life. In school, it was really hard to get her to raise her hand and participate in class. She was always pretty timid in large groups when our extended family would come over on holidays and such. Contrary to most people’s experience, she actually was thriving with distance learning this last year. For whatever reason, she had really ‘come out of her shell’ in online class, was the master of the breakout rooms, etc. Now that LAUSD has announced a sudden return to in person classes, she’s expressed anxiety about going back to school. What can I say to her to help her to both ease her anxiety and make her transition back into school smooth?”
Clinical Director Kent Toussaint answers your parenting questions every Wednesday at 12:00pm in our weekly segment Tips On Teens on Facebook Live. Have questions about parenting kids and teens? Send them to: TipsOnTeens@TeenTherapyCenter.com. We love to hear from you!
Head on over to our Facebook page every Wednesday at 12:00pm to watch LIVE! Check out our page here – https://www.facebook.com/TeenTherapyCenter/
If you have more questions or would like more information, please contact our Clinical Director, Kent Toussaint at 818.697.8555.