Ask a Therapist: Parenting through the Chaos of Today’s World

Just like me, my teenage daughter feels stress from the chaotic state of the world. How can I help her cope in the face of such uncertainty? What can I do at home to make her feel safe?

-Perturbed Parent

Dear Perturbed,

Things are hard right now. Hard is an interesting word because it holds different meaning for different people. Here’s the thing about that: We don’t need to make comparisons. We can hold space for one another without trying to determine the hardest version of hard.

Does that make sense? A lot of young people tell me when they speak up and share their stuff, people say things like, “it could be worse” or, “at least you don’t have to deal with…” This can actually trigger feelings of guilt and shame, which adds to emotional overload.

Another common response is to name tools and strategies to cope with the feeling right away. It’s great to have a toolbox to cope with big feelings, but processing emotions takes time.

We have to learn to slow down our responses to give young people time to sit with their emotions. It’s okay to just be, to allow ourselves to feel.

We are socialized to look for solutions to problems, but this mindset can push us to sweep away our feelings before we’ve fully processed them. This can actually lead to poor coping patterns—if we’re always looking for the right strategy, we might miss important thoughts that occur during the processing phase.

Teens often tell me that they keep things private because they need time to think before someone tells them how to move forward. That’s important information. In this fast-paced, instant-gratification world we’re living in, we all need to remember how to take time to think.

Anyway, slow down. Sit together and just be. Show support by just being present.

You don’t have to have all the answers. You don’t even have to have any answers.

Sometimes just being there, or being on the other end of the line, is the best thing you can do to help another human process hard things.

Mutual empathy occurs when we slow down and endure together. We can do this. I believe in us. Last year I released The Stress-Buster Workbook for Kids, which is filled with strategies to help kids regulate emotions, build coping skills, and tap into positive thinking. You can download a selection of worksheets here that can be used with the kids and teens in your life.

Thanks for reading.

-Katie Hurley, LCSW

Proven Strategies to Manage BIG Emotions, Build Coping Skills, and Find Fast Relief for Stressed-Out Kids
The Clinician’s Guide to Substance Use Disorders: Practical Tools for Assessment, Treatment & Recovery
Kids today are growing up in a world that runs on stress. From bullying, peer pressure, and demanding academic expectations, modern-day kids are often faced with obstacles that can feel insurmountable. In The Stress-Buster Workbook for Kids, Katie Hurley delivers 75 evidence-based strategies, activities, and scripts to help children navigate the stressors of everyday life, overcome challenges, and build self-confidence.

Designed to offer a myriad of stress-busting solutions – as every kid is different and needs different tools that work for them – this book is an ideal resource for parents, teachers, therapists, and any other professional working with kids ages 4-11. Being a kid isn’t always easy, but with these tried-and-true strategies, they’ll learn how to conquer their biggest obstacles and realize that they can do hard things.

Meet the Expert:
Katie Hurley, LCSW, is a child and adolescent psychotherapist, parenting educator, public speaker, and writer. She is the founder of "Girls Can!" empowerment groups for girls ages 5–11. Hurley is the author of the award-winning No More Mean Girls: The Secret to Raising Strong, Confident, and Compassionate Girls.

Learn more about their educational products, including upcoming live seminars, by clicking here.

Topic: Anxiety/Depression | Children and Adolescent Behavioral | Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) | Children & Adolescents

Tags: Children

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