As a parent, it can be difficult to completely understand the struggles that your daughter goes through during her teenage years. This time can be especially tough for fathers of daughters dealing with anxiety. Teens with anxiety may be more likely to shut down and feel overwhelmed. But despite the communication barrier between you and your teenage daughter, there is still some light at the end of the tunnel—the bond that you share. Here are 6 tips for stay engaged with your anxious teenage daughter.
Don’t Be Judgmental
Many teenage girls with anxiety struggle talking to their fathers about their issues because they’re scared of being judged. One of the best ways to open the lines of communication and build trust with your daughter is to avoid passing harsh judgment when she opens up about things that are going on in her life. While this may not always be easy to do, it’s essential that you keep an open mind in order to build trust.
Give Her Some Personal Space
It’s normal to want to be as involved in your daughter’s life as possible. However, as she goes through her teenage years, she’ll probably begin to push you away a bit. Allow her to have as much space as possible. It can be difficult to give her the space she needs, but it’s important. These are the years when she’s trying to figure out who she is, who she wants to be, and where she belongs.
Build Trust by Giving Her Responsibility
Most teenagers are in a rush to grow up. Giving your daughter some adult-like responsibilities around the house can be a great way to prepare her for the future while also keeping her mind away from anxious thoughts. You can show her how to fix things around the house, when to call a repairman if an appliance breaks, and ask for her input on home decor projects.
It can be easy to overreact in certain situations, especially if your daughter is sharing shocking news. Still, you should do your best to remain calm when interacting with your daughter. The way you react to things can put a strain on your relationship, and maybe even damage it. Try to avoid yelling and harsh language—doing so will help create a safe space for her to open up.
Avoid Unattainable Expectations
The fear of disappointing you may be a huge part of why your daughter feels anxious. By removing expectations surrounding what she should do and who she should be, you can help lessen those feelings of anxiety. But this doesn’t mean that there shouldn’t be things you want for your daughter, it just means that you shouldn’t pressure her with your expectations.
Be a Good Listener
Your daughter may not want to talk often, but when she does, she’s going to want someone to listen to her. Practice active listening when your daughter takes the time to share something with you. This will help you get to know her better while also allowing her to feel confident that you’re interested in what she has to say.
Helping your daughter get through her teenage years can come with a lot of stress. But if you’re able to effectively engage with each other, you’ll learn that the experience can be more pleasant that you ever imagined.