Why are there so many Anxious Teenagers Today?

Teen Anxiety and Driving

An article published in November of 2017 in the New York Times addressed the question “ Why Are More American Teenagers Than Ever Suffering From Severe Anxiety ?

The article cites overachieving perfectionists with a crippling fear of failure. Consider this phenomena when it comes to learning how to drive. All of us that have been behind the wheel for years know that there is nothing “perfect” about what happens out on the roadways. Now put a young person who is learning how to drive, and convincing them that the rest of the world likely “will not” play by the rules and you have to expect the unexpected. That thought process does not induce calm in an anxious person. We cannot or should not put an anxious novice driver out on today’s roadways whether they are a teenager or an adult. We need to help them develop coping strategies and tools that help them feel empowered and able to handle whatever comes at them when they are on the road.

This article talks about 10 reasons why teens have so much anxiety today. For example, electronics offering an unhealthy escape is cited as one of the reasons. The ability to engage with others through electronics vs. face to face has replaced opportunities to develop mental strength. Another reason cited is parents giving their teenager unrealistic praise putting pressure on their kids to live up to labels and expectations. This is also a topic I cover in the Parent Class about being careful about the language we use when we’re providing feedback to a teenager about their driving ability. For example telling a teenager that they are a great driver is unrealistic. It takes thousands and thousands of miles for an individual to become an experienced driver, so because they have exhibited some skill does not mean you tell them they’re a great driver! You can say to them, you executed that right turn very well and always provide them with feedback about what they need to improve. Remember they will be honing their skills for years, so strive for “good” in order to determine license readiness. Click here to read the entire article.

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Maria is the Co-founder and COO of DrivingMBA. She has over 20 years of organization development experience working with a wide range of organizations. In addition to the use of traditional organization development techniques, she is highly skilled in large systems change and organization learning, with formal training in both specialties. She has extensive experience in the field of adult learning concepts, and in the design and facilitation of adult learning experiences and interventions at all levels, and sizes of organizations.

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