Teens can experience difficulty in expressing their feelings and what is going on in their lives. It’s frustrating for parents to see their children struggling and distressing when you don’t have all the information you need to help them, but you can still provide support.
Use these five methods to help support a teen who may be struggling with mental health.
1. Teach Them How to Use Coping Mechanisms
Coping mechanisms are like first aid for emotional challenges such as feeling betrayed by a best friend, failing an exam, not getting into the football team, or being treated harshly by a teacher in front of the class.
These experiences can create mental anguish in a teen, and coping mechanisms can help them start healing. You can liken it to treating a cut with a bandaid.
Teach your child that it’s okay to talk to someone about how a traumatic experience has made them feel. Recording thoughts and feelings in a diary or drawing and sketching related imagery can help release pent-up emotions.
2. Develop a Sharing Environment
You can also lead by example. If you have a bad day at work or had an issue with a friend, talk about it at the dinner table. Your teen will feel that talking about negative experiences with people they trust is an okay method for dealing with many of life’s challenges.
Show some interest in your child’s life, spend time together as a family, sit down to regular family dinners. Most importantly, encourage an environment of open communication, so family members always feel comfortable opening up about their troubles.
3. Spend Some Time with Your Teen
Teens are at a stage in life where they are learning independence and doing more things on their own, but that doesn’t mean they don’t need support when they are having a hard time.
You’ve been bailing your child out of trouble since they were very young, but you will need a slightly different strategy when they are older. Sit down, talk to your child about what’s happening in their life, and ask if they need support or help before you jump in uninvited.
4. Show them How to Use Social Media Responsibly
Social media is an excellent way for teens to stay in touch with their friends, but too much can be emotionally damaging. Monitor the amount of time your child spends on social media. If you feel that screen time is taking up too much of their day, talk to them about it.
Banning or punishing is generally not an effective deterrent. Instead, teach your child about the ramifications of spending too much time on social media and how limiting their exposure will benefit their mental health and happiness.
5. Maintain a Regular Routine
Kids need discipline and routine so try to keep everyday life as regular as possible. Ensure your child is eating regular meals, getting enough sleep, and taking time out for self-care. Regular exercise is also known to help control stress levels, which will help a great deal for high school students.
Supporting your child’s mental health is deeper than dealing with a diagnosable condition like depression or anxiety. Teenagers will benefit from daily support and knowing that their parents or guardians are always there for them. If you notice your teenager has been struggling with stress or other mental health issues, try the above tips to help them develop emotional stability, resilience, and a positive outlook.