As your teenager looks beyond high school to life ahead of him, he may have fears about his future. And if your child has learning and attention issues, his path may seem especially uncertain. But if you can understand his fears, you can also help him manage them.
Understand the source of the fear.
Teenagers’ view of their futures evolves over time. From ages 13–15, they’re usually focused on their own needs and concerns. As they move through high school, from about ages 15–18, they start to dabble in adulthood. And when they’re 18–23, most young adults finally understand that their future success is up to them.
As teens move toward young adulthood, they often feel the pressure of too much change in too short a period of time. This can lead to feeling worried or afraid. For example, they may fear:
- Losing the support of parents and family as they become more independent
- Taking on the responsibilities of adulthood
It takes courage to face these fears. But facing them builds self-esteem. Running from fear (when there’s no real danger) can erode self-respect. Fear also has a function: It forces your child sit up and notice when something important is happening inside or around him.
“The best thing you can do for your child is to honor his fears.”
Anxiety is common among young adults with learning and attention issues. That’s because many of them have experienced frustration and confusion in school. Your child may expect failure. So new situations may cause him more anxiety than they do other people.
Honor his fears.
The best thing you can do for your child is to honor his fears. Tell him that you know it’s scary to search for a job, support himself and make his own way.
Remind him that it’s only scary because he hasn’t started that journey. He’ll feel more at ease once he does. Even when he stumbles along the way, he’ll learn from his failures. And as he does, you’ll still be there to help.
Conforming to what’s “normal” is especially important to young adults longing to find their own “tribe.” That’s why coming to terms with learning and attention issues can be painful. Help your child work through his fears of not belonging by helping him see his strengths, not just his challenges.
Self-awareness is the first step to your child accepting himself. Only then can he speak up and ask for the help he needs to work around his weaknesses and take advantage of his strengths.