Youth do not grow up in a vaccum; we live in a society. It take a village to raise a child. It is incumbent upon us as authority figures of youth- parents, educators, and all of us older, developed adults to do our best to give developing, vulnerable young people what they need and deserve. So, how can we help our young people cope with the stresses they face in every day life?
First, they need to feel that they belong to a stable family and/or a safe enough community so that they feel secure. They need to know that they are loved, valued and needed by the community. They need to know that even when they make mistakes and fail, they are still loved and accepted (although their behavior may not be). Errors can be viewed as opportunities for growth, and stepping stones to success.
Searching for love is a natural human tendency. If tweens and teens do not find love/good feelings in their families and/or communities, they will search for it in less desirable areas- inappropriate sexual relationships, gangs, social media, and finally drugs/alcohol. Youth need healthy food that balances their blood sugar as well as plenty of exercise. Both are good for their developing bodies, and especially their brains. Involvement with sports and the arts promotes healthy individual and social development.
Young people can learn to overcome their stress and anxiety by learning mindfulness, deep breathing, and meditation. All are well-documented ways to overcome stress and anxiety. They can learn self-hypnosis through visualization to reprogram their subconscious minds. One simple visualization they can do to enhance their sense of security is to visualize themselves surrounded by a universal symbol of a gold-yellow ring of light on the ground, at arm’s length diameter (both arms extended-width). This sends the message to the subconscious mind to feel centered, safe, and fulfilling one’s potential on the planet.
Parents and educators who also visualize their children and students surrounded by a gold-yellow circle on a regular basis can subtly convey the message of security and wholeness to them. One can also visualize pulling up the sides of the gold-yellow circle to form a cylinder that sends a message deep into the subconscious mind that one is protected and able to contain one’s sensitivity/overreactions and emotions. All of these techniques can go a long way in helping with stress and anxiety. And there are other visualizations that will help youth with a number of social situations and their own minds that are simple and effective!
Another effective way to decrease stress and manage anxiety is a through a newer computer technology in our office called Brainwave Optimization. Brainwave Optimization (BWO) is a high tech way to relax the brain’s energy in microseconds. Relaxation and stress/anxiety are totally incompatible with each other. People, including youth, find that they are much calmer and able to manage their anxiety better once they have done this procedure. It is fundamentally safe and non-invasive. We also have a high tech mobile biofeedback unit (Braintellect 2) unlike anything else in the world, that can be used at home to promote neuro-relaxation, thereby decompressing from stress and easing one’s anxiety. Brainwave Optimization has been used with children who are 2 years old and older.
At Dunham Counseling Center, we also have evidence-based counseling for youth who are five years old and older and their families that will help reduce stress and anxiety, including Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR), mind body techniques, and interpersonal counseling. If you are currently going through a divorce, it is important to start counseling when the children are at a young age. It will not hurt to get children into counseling early before stress and anxiety compound. We have a wide range of resources to help address problem of stress and anxiety in youth. Call us today at (630) 799-0100 for a free consultation to learn more about what we can do to serve you!
Jeff Lucas, LCPC, CADC