NASHVILLE (BP) — Jimmy sat down at the dinner table and listened to his son. His son was athletic and not prone to tears.
The problem wasn’t necessarily school, his son said. It wasn’t about having friends because he had a lot of friends. It was something of a mixture – worry about the future, fear of the unknown, being nervous about the state in general…all.
Jimmy (last name withheld) is a Southern Baptist deacon. He has several children ranging in age from pre-teens to college age. They all deal with anxiety in some way, and each in a different way.
A recent Pew Research survey found that mental health was the top concern for parents for their children, with 40% saying they were “very” or “extremely” concerned about battling anxiety or depression. . It was just before being bullied (35%), more than physical threats such as kidnapping (28%), being beaten (25%), and drug or alcohol problems (23%).
Mark Crawford, a licensed clinical psychologist, provides individual, couples and family counseling. Many social factors contribute to the hectic schedules of every mental health professional he knows.
“[There is] Political polarization, wars, economic hardships, it’s a common mess you see in the news all the time,” he said.
Others include the prevalence of social media and the COVID pandemic, which has led to a “massive increase in many issues related to isolation and lockdowns.”
An “undeniable” decline in church engagement, he said, has led to an “untethering from the values that anchor us in times of turmoil.”
The pandemic has also amplified domestic problems.
“We know that [rates of] Domestic violence and substance abuse have increased dramatically,” he said. “We also know that social isolation and school refusal have a significant negative impact on the mental health of young people.”
David Franklin, who heads the Bartow Baptist Society in northwest Georgia, often asks pastors how their families are doing.
“Especially when pastors and families are in the process of moving to another location, anxiety arises among their children,” he said.
Franklin added that pastors recognize that being a teenager is a more difficult time. And the speed of cultural change, especially against biblical standards, can be dizzying not only as church leaders, but as parents.
“They themselves are tougher than they were as kids,” Franklin said.
how to help
In a Lifeway Women post, child and teenage counselor Amy Jacobs offered four tips for raising an anxious child.
- Avoid the urge to accept. Don’t remove the hurdles that lead to growth. Remind them that they are safe and that they will get through it.
- Take baby step by step. Relieve discomfort. Face your insecurities.
- leave a track record. Notice the gradual steps to confront their insecurities.
- Worrying children underestimate their ability to cope with adversity. Tell your son or daughter that they have the power to do the hard things. Remind yourself how you have faced challenges before and overcome them.
“If anxiety keeps us from doing the things we want to do or should do, like playing a sport she likes or attending an event she enjoyed in the past, it means that the child is anxious. It’s a clear sign that you need extra support to overcome