Seven Ways to Help Your Child or Teen With Anxiety and Depression


EFT | 1A Wellness

A primary question from parents seeking treatment for their child with anxiety is: What can I be doing to help? Below are seven tips to help guide parents through the process of supporting a child or teen with anxiety or depression.

DO Make Space for Feelings

If your child or teen shares with you that they are experiencing symptoms of stress, anxiety, or depression, the first step is to simply listen, without worrying about how to respond or what to say.


My friends at school are really hurting my feelings. They keep making plans together and not inviting me.


That is such a terrible feeling, I’m so sorry that’s happening! You must be feeling really upset.

DO Validate Feelings That Come Up

It is easy to forget a very important step in the listening process: validating. For kids and teens, a lot of feelings and experiences are new and confusing, and letting them know that it makes sense that they’re feeling upset can help them feel less alone in the experience. When we provide validation, we help kids feel seen and understood and help calm their nervous system, making room for other feelings that may need attention, such as sadness.


Yeah, I am really upset.


That makes sense, I would be feeling really upset too.

DON’T Try to Fix Things

When we see someone in distress, especially our children, we immediately want to solve the problem and make it better. Sometimes, our attempts to “fix” can actually set us backwards. For example, imagine that you came home from work and shared with your spouse that you had a bad day because of something your boss was doing that hurt you. If your spouse responded right away with “Well, have you considered doing XYZ?,” you would likely feel unheard, and not ready to problem-solve. What we need most in those moments is someone to listen without judgment, perhaps simply telling us that what we are describing does sound upsetting and that they are very sorry it is happening.


Yeah, it’s making me feel really sad.


I can see that, I would be feeling sad, too. Want to tell me more about what’s happening?

DO Provide Comfort

Thinking again about what you might want from your spouse if you had had a terrible day at work, you can probably imagine some comforts that could help remove some of the sting of the day. Takeout dinner, a warm bubble bath, a movie on the couch with some popcorn, or even just a big hug can make a huge difference! Oftentimes, kids just want to know you’re there for them, without the pressure to do, solve, or fix the problem right away.


I don’t want to talk about it right now.


I understand. Can I give you a hug? Let’s order something fun for dinner, and we can just chill out tonight.

Do Provide Emotional Support and Encouragement

Even if you’re not “fixing” the problem, you can let them know that you will work through this, and that you’re here to help. Many of the ups and downs of middle school and high school feel bewildering and, often, like the end of the world. A reminder to your child or teen that you know how awful this feels, and that you know you can work through it, is often all they need to hear.


Okay, yeah, a night to chill sounds good.


I know this is really hard, and I know we can work through it when you’re ready to talk more.

DO Offer to Help Problem Solve, but Don’t Try to Problem Solve Right Away

It is so tempting to start the problem solving process right away (e.g., “Well have you talked to your friends, maybe it’s a big misunderstanding? Maybe you can invite them to come over for a pizza night or go skating?”), but the first step is always to listen and provide comfort and reassurance.


Okay, I might be more ready to talk about it tomorrow.


That sounds good, I’ll check in with you and we can put our heads together when you’re ready.

Do Check In on Your Own Feelings and Reactions to Their Distress, and Seek Help if You Need it

For parents, seeing their kids in distress of any kind (anxiety, depression, stress) can be triggering. Parents often feel upset by their kids’ unhappiness and feel compelled to solve the problem to remove everyone’s discomfort. In fact, however, some discomfort and distress is a completely normal part of growing up, and when parents can model for their children that feeling sad or upset sometimes is very normal and can be worked with and tolerated (and it doesn’t mean that they have done something wrong), children learn to face these feelings effectively. Checking in on your own reactions to your child’s distress is an important part of the process. We want to send the message that we can see their pain, AND we can tolerate it.


What happened?! What’s wrong?! Are you going to be okay?? It’s so hard for me to see you upset like this! Did I do something? Is it something we’ve done? I just can’t believe you are feeling so upset! Now I’m sad and upset, too.


I think you’re overreacting. It’s not that bad. This really isn’t a big deal. None of this will matter tomorrow. Don’t worry about that, you’ll be fine. Other kids have much bigger problems than this. You don’t seem that upset most of the time, are you sure you’re feeling depressed/anxious?


I’m so sorry you’re going through such a hard time right now. The feelings you’re describing make sense, this is really hard. Thank you for telling me about it. Let’s do something relaxing together, and we can talk it out more whenever you want.

At 1A Wellness, we are driven to provide exceptional therapy so that clients can transform their lives. Our clinicians understand how to heal pain and how to help clients move forward so that they can make enduring changes and live fuller lives. We cannot change the past. But by investing in therapy, clients can reclaim their lives and change the future. This is our mission.


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Note on Health Insurance

1A Wellness is a self-pay out-of-network practice. As such, we do not accept health insurance. But if your healthcare plan includes an out-of-network option, partial reimbursement may be available. See our FAQ section for more information.

Note on Health Insurance

1A Wellness is a self-pay out-of-network practice. As such, we do not accept health insurance. But if your healthcare plan includes an out-of-network option, partial reimbursement may be available. See our FAQ section for more information.