Too Much Worry?

Anxiety is on the rise. More girls worry than in the past, and they have more to worry about. Their lives are packed. Their bodies are changing. School is more demanding. Friendships are more complicated. And in the tween years, a girl is becoming more independent, which is exciting but also a bit scary.

Some worry is a good thing, helping us focus on what needs attention. But too much can hold us back. As a parent, you can help your girl find balance in many ways. Talk with her about the following tips, which are proven for lowering stress and upping calm. Help her arrange her schedule to dial down the pressure. And if worry is so pervasive it's interfering with her life, talk with her doctor.

Finally, don't just say it, do it. Modeling these practices is one of the best ways you can help your girl. You'll show her how it's done—and you'll feel better, too. Here's how.

1

Avoid multitasking.
Research indicates that trying to do two (or more) things at once triggers the release of stress hormones—and it doesn't even work. Tasks take more time overall, and we make more mistakes.

 
2

Mind your health.
Eat right, exercise, and get enough sleep. You'll feel stronger, your mood will be lighter, and you'll be better able to cope with stress.

 
3

Get the organization habit.
Manage your space and time so you're not in a panic or a rush. Create regular places to put things—keys, backpacks, sports equipment, granola bars. Keep one calendar for the family, post it in a central location, and meet at regular times for updates and a review of the week ahead.

 
4

Schedule downtime.
It's important to be involved, but if you have too many commitments, you can't enjoy any of them or do your best. Everyone needs time to relax and recharge. You do, and so does your girl. Every day.

 
5

Ditch perfection.
Remind yourself that setbacks make us more resourceful and mistakes mean we're out there learning and challenging ourselves. A person who's trying to protect her image can't relax and truly connect with others. Imperfections make us more fun and easier to be with. Embrace them.

 
6

Love your body.
Every body has pluses and minuses. Instead of focusing on "flaws," focus on what you really like about your body. Your strong legs? Your intelligent eyes? Your graceful shoulders? Compliment yourself—and your daughter—for your real beauty.

 
7

Limit screen time.
Looking at a screen excites the brain, and being on-call with devices makes it difficult to concentrate on anything. Calm your mind by setting boundaries with devices and paying full attention to what you're doing or the people you're with.

 
8

Stay in touch.
Hug your girl. Have your friends over. Call your own mom or dad. Cuddle your dog. Connecting with others, listening and laughing, and loving touch are powerful antidotes to stress.

 
9

Be thankful.
Research shows that appreciating the good things around us, both large and small, increases well-being in many ways. We feel happier. We sleep better. Our immune systems are stronger. All of this amounts to less stress and less worry. Just say thanks.

 

Adapted from A Smart Girl's Guide: Worry, by Judy Woodburn and Nancy Holyoke. American Girl Publishing, 2016. All rights reserved. Learn more about this book that teaches skills proven to reduce anxiety, increase calm and confidence, and help a girl's true self shine through.