School starts and Anxiety Rises

This week and in the next few weeks high school will begin again. Summer will fade into Fall and games, cheerleading and dances will be the fare for many teens. Doesn’t that sound great? For some kids that is what it is, but for many kids there is way too much drama and anxiety associated with school to earn it a “great” label.

Surely there must be ways to lessen the difficulty so many teens experience in the social setting of their high school. Let me suggest some coping skills that have proven helpful to teens I’ve worked with:

  1. Get involved: Sports, theater, student government, band, academic debate clubs, and service groups, choir etc. These groups help you belong and have a feeling of value.
  2. Plan your day: Figure out how to be with friends. Lunch, and other unstructured times of the day can be difficult and unnerving if you do not find support.
  3. Reach out: One of the tricks to being comfortable is to make someone else feel more accepted and included.
  4. “Fake It Till You Make It”: A little known fact, to teens, is that many adults suffer from some form of social anxiety and have learned to cope with faking techniques. Most of us are trying on various ways to be part of the group at whatever level we want to belong.
  5. Practice Makes Better: Give yourself a break and realize that each day holds a new possibility to practice getting through discomfort and social anxiety.
  6. Talk to someone: Share your feelings with a trusted person and/ or someone who appears to be able to handle the “drama” well. You are not alone.
  7. Above all else: Love who you are and trust yourself.


Be gentle with your kids and be aware that they are often in a situation that needs your wisdom and guidance. We all went through high school and yet teens today are in a different time and circumstance than we were. I think kids need the support of adults more than ever but that is probably not easy for them to admit to or even recognize. We too are often facing some of the doubts we went through in our teen years but we can draw on years of experience and courage for the kids in search of our input.

Please know that counseling can help your family and or teen who is struggling with anxiety and other issues.

Call: 682-465-1225 and talk to Katharine O’Connor

Teen issues are like dirty diapers

What new parent would complain about changing a diaper? What parent does not expect a wet one or a “poopy” one? And, if babies don’t have a dirty diapers something is wrong and a possible call to the doctor is in order! 

So, why do parents expect teens to not have “issues”? Really? Isn’t becoming an adult exactly what teens are doing? This becoming has to have “issues”!

Why are adults surprised when an “issue” just like a dirty diaper shows up? What are kids supposed to do to get the help they need to move through the confusion and “issues” of their teen years? Working with kids has clued me into some of their struggles. I call them their little, sometimes big, secrets. Adults either don’t know about their kid’s lives or are afraid to face a kid’s “issue”…which is about as helpful as not changing a dirty diaper!

Let me give you some clues to a few well kept “little secrets” with the following questions:

Did you know kids are scared….nervous…anxiety ridden?

(Although they may come off as aloof and arrogant.)

Did you know that many kids use marijuana to calm down by self-medication?

(Although they act li8ke they are just making a statement bout their freedom.)

Did you know that cutting can be a form of controlling the global pain kids are over whelmed with?

(Although they may be acting like they’ve got life figured out.)

Did you know that many kids are sexually active from the age of 12?

(Although they know very little about sexuality or when a girl can get pregnant.)

Did you know that kids don’t have anyone they feel they can talk to?

(Although they may never be alone.)

Did you know that both young men and women weep deeply, like little children, when someone listens to them with openness and non-judgment?

(Although they often act like they don’t need anyone to know their inner thoughts or feelings.)

Kids, teens, and adolescents need help just like young children who are in diaper. These teen-age years are critical times of transition. Unfortunately these years evoke fear because many parents, grandparents, and teachers feel inadequate to address the “issues” teens face. No one either wants to or can help with the “issues”, like dirty diapers, that teens are dealing with.

The counselor brings a new perspective to the teen and his/her family in facing the “issues” that seem so insurmountable that they cannot even be admitted to. The counselor is not “fixing” a teen or the family of a teen but rather is there to offer techniques in communication and insight so that the teen and his/her family may be able to creatively work through the ”Issues” being offered to the family by this teen who is both challenging and challenged.

The family, as well as the teen, is needing to arrive at balance in order to be more functional.

Just as dirty diapers keep showing up with young children ” issues” are repetitive, challenging occurrences that keeping showing up in the life of teens and their families.

Let me help you look at the needs of you family and teen in a effort to bring your family together with skills that offer the possibility of harmony and balance.