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Why Your Over-Achieving Teen May Need Help with Anxiety

Plenty of teens will stress over an exam or worry about a first date. Anxiety is much more than that. It is a diagnosable mental condition that can negatively shape a teen’s life. If an over-achieving teen feels pushed or coerced into achieving at all costs, the anxiety quotient increases. There are many factors involved in an over-achieving mindset. All of them can put your child at risk of anxiety.

The Curse of Perfectionism

Imperfect has become a four-letter word. For example, consider the omnipresent selfie. Studies show that teens will sometimes take and delete dozens of photos before sharing one. This is indicative of a culture that feels like surveillance. As parents, it is our job to model the importance of living life for its own sake. Not everything is a competition or a contest.

Social Media Lifestyle

Millions of words have been written about this issue but, in relation to an over-achieving teen, it can be boiled down to two aspects.

1. 24/7 Peer Pressure and Instant Punishment

As touched on above, your teen’s smartphone is more enemy than an ally. Today’s kids are on constant display and any perceived slip-up is punished instantly with comments and shares. Achieving is hardly enough in such a vortex. Teens feel they must over-achieve in order to maintain any social status.

2. Diminished Emotional and Social Skills

Living so much of their formative years on phones and computers diminishes any child’s social life. We learn so much from face-to-face interactions, e.g. facial expressions, vocal inflections, body language, and more. Such IRL lessons enrich our emotional lives and help us develop the ability to trust. Around trusted friends, your child can let down her or his guard.

Parental Pressure/Denial

Even the most well-meaning parents can contribute to their child’s anxiety. We want the best for our kids but often cannot recognize how this adds pressure to their lives. Teens are beginning to grasp who they are and what they want. This may not jibe with a parent’s wishes. The ensuing conflict is usually played out as a head-on collision.

In addition, some parents set up unrealistic expectations for their children. We must offer honest appraisals of their skills and situation. They trust us to guide them — even when that guidance is not easy to hear.

Why Your Over-Achieving Teen May Need Help with Anxiety

All that’s described above (and more) may mix to form a toxic psychological brew. Your teen may feel left without coping skills and thus leans into dysfunction. More often than not, the dysfunction revolves around anxiety. It may be Generalized Anxiety Disorder, Panic Attacks, Social Anxiety, or other variations. These conditions can become default defense mechanisms unless your teen is made to feel safer. Some basics to ponder when dealing with an anxious teen:

  • Educate yourself about anxiety disorders
  • Don’t seek quick fixes like avoidance or full immersion
  • Work together with them on coping mechanisms
  • Break down the stressful situations into smaller, easier to manage sections
  • Reject invalidating sentiments like: It’s no big deal, you’ll be fine, there’s nothing to worry about, or it’s all in your head

Talk to a Professional

Learn ways to help your over-achieving teens anxietyOnce again, anxiety is not just a feeling. It is a condition that requires treatment. It’s nothing to be ashamed of or hidden. We all face it down in our lives and, with guidance, your over-achieving teen will also find new approaches and skills. Be their ally. Validate their feelings. Also, give them space to seek professional help. Please reach out for a consultation soon. Eddins Counseling Group in Houston, TX has many qualified counselors that specialize in anxiety treatment and teen counseling. Regular therapy can serve as a safe place where interaction and sharing are not about perfection or achievements. From there, your teen can develop more balance in their life and their perspective. Call us today at 832-559-2622 or book an appointment online.

Rachel Eddins, M.Ed., LPC-S, CGP on Twitter
Rachel Eddins, M.Ed., LPC-S, CGP
Rachel’s passion is to help people discover their personal gifts and strengths to achieve self-acceptance, create a healthy relationship with food, mind and body, and find meaning and fulfillment in work and life roles. She helps people create nurturance and healing from within to restore balance and enoughness and overcome binge eating, emotional eating, anxiety, depression and lack of career fulfillment.

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