Worry pretends to be useful and necessary. Your anxious teen undoubtedly believes that it is. They may believe that by worrying they are driven to prevent the negative events they fear. But the truth is that worry is never actually helpful.
If your child is worried about an upcoming test, they probably believe that worry is what prompts them to study, prepare, and ultimately ace it. This is a mistaken belief that a lot of us buy into. It’s not the feelings of worry that are prompting these helpful behaviors. It is much more likely feelings like determination, hope, and confidence that are driving the useful actions of studying.
Worry is just getting in the way of these useful feelings.
What do you feel like doing when you are worried or anxious? Everyone's a little different, but I would say most people don’t feel like buckling down and working hard when they are worried. A lot of the time we have the opposite desire. We want to retreat and avoid the thing we are worried about. That won’t do your child a lot of good when it comes to passing the impending math exam.
So rather than driving them, worry is actually hindering them. It’s only when your child is able to put worry aside and focus on more positive thoughts and emotions that they are able to move towards more productive behavior.
What drives someone to study hard and succeed in the face of an upcoming test is feeling confident that they are capable of doing well and determined to make sure they do. Those feelings come from much different thoughts than worry does.
Recognizing that worry is not actually helpful is one of the first steps towards overcoming it. Give yourself and your teen permission to let the worry go. We all are even more capable of success without it.