I found that our Child who struggled with anxiety did not get into too much trouble. You know… Anxiety. It tends to keep them on the sidelines when things are going sideways in their friend groups. Too anxious to say anything to tell them to stop but too anxious to be a part of the trouble.
But when they do… How you discipline a teen with anxiety is a little bit different. Their anxiety will already be so high from getting caught doing something.
One Summer when our Anxiety son was away at a church camp for the week, we got a call in the middle of the night. It was him on the other end. He and his friends had taken a picture of themselves posing with some statues provocatively. They then posted it and hash tagged it with the organization that was running the camp. The boys were told that they would normally be sent home but the camp was over the next morning.
He was embarrassed that he was pulled out of his bed in the middle of the night to call his parents and worried about what everyone thought and what we would say.
When I answered the phone I could tell that his anxiety was high. There was no reason at the time to contribute to it.
The next morning when my husband went to pick up a car load of boys he took them all to McDonalds and talk to them all about internet safety and if they are going to take inappropriate pictures to not post them on social media or send them to anyone. Or just not take them. I feel like the lesson was well received and we didn’t have to have any more action then that. And guess what? Our son never had any kind of trouble like that again.
Now here is the most important part. Because we handled it the way we did, our son knew he could come to us when he messed up and we wouldn’t blow up. That wasn’t the last time we got a phone call that started with a “Mom.. don’t be mad but….” BUT I am always his first phone call. EVERYTIME!!!! He can count on me.
Now that is not to say there shouldn’t be consequences. Sometimes there are. We need to be clear about what they are and enforce them when needed. We also need to make sure we know why we are enforcing these consequences. Is it to teach them or is it to make ourselves feel better as a parent. Make sure it is always coming from a place of teaching and not from feeling like we need to be in control.
Most of the time there is already a natural consequence. Also always keep your cool. If you can’t, then take a time out and cool off. No matter how long it takes.
If you have an Anxious Teen, Lets talk. I have a free Parent Discovery Session waiting for you. I have only one spot open until January.
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