My 14 year old daughter learns and hears things at school from friends and on t.v. and is scared...
to death. Like will I get aids if I have sex? or the world is going to end soon, she is always worried and nervous, why? and how do I talk to her?
A couple things come immediately to mind. One important thing to consider is how you respond to her verbal expressions of fear, and other feelings. The best way to respond to feelings is to acknowledge them. For example, when she shares about something she is afraid of, you can reply, "You're really scared about that." Typically she'll respond with more information, and you can further reflect what you hear as the reason for the fear. Example, "It sounds like you're considering some of the pros and cons of being sexually active, and that whole HIV/AIDS thing has you pretty scared." You could follow that up with an affirmation of her good decision making skills or a validation that that is a difficult decision. If she doesn't open up with prompting, you can say, "I wonder what scares you the most about that." The point is to listen rather than talk, and let her know you're available to her when she wants to talk.
The second thing that comes to my mind is helping her distinguish between healthy and unhealthy fear. The purpose of fear is to protect us, and help us move away from danger and toward safety. Often our subconscious mind is aware of dangers before we consciously recognize them. It's important to listen to fear and identify the source of fear. Your daughter may be becoming more aware of her own sexuality and/or sexual feelings about a peer. A red flag about the dangers of unprotected sex can be very helpful in considering whether or not she will act on her sexual feelings. The problem many people have is in shutting off their fear, and not using the gift of healthy fear.
If these two suggestions don't seem to fit, or you try them and they don't help, you could talk to her pediatrician to see if she is showing signs of an anxiety disorder that might require therapy and/or medications. If there's a family history of anxiety or depression, it would be especially worthwhile to look into.
Even if there is an anxiety disorder, though, learning to cope with feelings by identifying, expressing them, and accepting them is the key to managing them! Hope this helps - would love to hear back about how it goes.
I ve raised 4 kids who are now adults. THEY all had worries even then. Part of growing up is dealing with a child's worries, insecurities, choices. JUST love them thru it, hear what their hearts are saying, and just be a good listener. I'm tickled pink when my kids now tell me about something they dealt with, that they were glad for Dad's sound advice. I never lied or disguised the truth and was honest open and candid. Find the info you need online, in books at libraries. NO matter how weird or how strange their fret/worry may sound and your HONEST, you and your kid will be alright for many years to come. My daughter is 36 and still asks dear old Dad for parental advice for my gkids.
I think she's worried and nervous because she's old enough to be around people talking about this stuff but too young to be able to be able to have a more mature perspective.
With the end of the world thing, I'd just point out how many times there have been end-of-the-world dates that came and went - and we're all still here.
When my kids (three of them) were younger I'd stress that there was a lot they didn't need to fear because there are steps we can all take to eliminate or reduce the chances something will happen to us. I'd stress that there are ways we can keep ourselves safe from a lot of things, and that knowing those steps and taking those steps isn't a matter of "being worried about everything" because when we take those steps we don't have to worry about a lot of those things.
My own opinion about what I'd tell a girl that age on the AIDS thing: I'd tell her all the ways AIDS is transmitted. I'd also tell her about safe sex, but that she'd be even better off to wait until she's at least older than 18; because at 18 she'll be better equipped to make a wise selection of a boyfriend who is not likely to be careless.
I'd also probably point out to her that it's now known that teen brains aren't finished maturing until early- to mid- twenties. It affects how kids thing and their judgment. I'd point out that one reason she's worried about things is that she's not ready to deal with a lot of those things at her age. I'd reassure her that her fears will die down as she gets a little older and reassure her that I'd be there to help her know how to keep herself safe until she does get older.
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