We live in a digital world, and though the digital age and the world of social media has brought great opportunities, it has also meant fewer opportunities to connect face to face. We email, text, shop, book holidays, fall in love, and maintain friendships online. It’s where our world is headed, and although in many ways this has opened our world up phenomenally, it’s more important than ever to be deliberate in teaching our kids the importance of the other type of connection – the one that doesn’t happen through wi-fi.
Living with teens can at times feel as though you’re living in a vastly different world to theirs. Yours is built around, ‘Let’s stay close and navigate through this adolescent thing together. And let’s talk a lot because I need to know you’re okay.’ Theirs is built around, ‘I’m learning how to be my own person so please don’t get in my way. And can you please stop asking me so many questions? It’s annoying.’
When the world is struck with a catastrophic event, the instinct to shield our children from the effects of it is completely understandable. We want them to grow up believing that the world is pure and good and geared in their favour. We also want them to feel safe, and avoiding a discussion isn’t necessarily the way to make this happen.
There’s something you need to know about adolescents that will change your relationship with them. It’s no secret that the changes they go through are phenomenal. If you live with one, you’ll probably be familiar with the tears, the fighting, the yelling and the angst – yours and theirs. You might also have felt the distance, so vast some days a small planet could get lost in the space between you, no problem at all. Then there are the times they are completely wonderful – hilarious, affectionate, creative, protective. The ups can be amazing, the downs can be awful and the way they get from one to the other so quickly some days can be mindblowing.
Anxious kids are brave kids. They are creative, thoughtful and have the potential to light the world on fire, every one of them, often in unexpected ways. When anxiety takes hold though, it’s overwhelming. It can shut down their potential, their engagement with the world and their self-belief. It feels awful and life becomes more about avoiding anxiety than it does about embracing life in ways that flourish them. This can be turned around and although anxiety doesn’t generally go away, it can be managed so that it stays in the background and out of their way. For anxious kids, the important adults in their lives are a powerful ally in helping to make this happen.