The teenage years are sometimes tough to handle. Young people are going through physical hormonal changes, emotional changes, and so much more. While these years can be beautiful and wonderful, they can also be challenging to navigate. How much screen time is too much? Should you let your teen have their own car? And who is influencing your teen when you are not around?
Your teen is going through a lot of changes as they transition into adulthood. They’re experiencing new emotions, trying to figure out who they are, and doing so while experiencing peer pressure and pressure from home. Some young people navigate these things beautifully, while others might have more difficulties. If your teen needs help to manage their mental health, there are some things you as the parent can do to help. Here are some tips.
Talk to Your Teen About Their Feelings
While this should be something you have done throughout their lives, it’s never too late to start. Your teen may be having difficult emotions that even they don’t understand. Having a parent who is willing to hear about those feelings, and offer some help can be invaluable. Don’t force the conversation, but leave communication lines open so that your teen can talk to you when they are ready. For example, if they start to tell you something that makes you uncomfortable, don’t lie or ignore the conversation. Be willing to have uncomfortable conversations.
Be a Good Listener
Active listening is hard. Listening without trying to give advice is even harder for parents. When it comes to listening, do less talking and more hearing. Your teen loves when you don’t interrupt or try to offer advice right away. We all need someone to understand our situation and to listen without judgment. Ask questions, and help them to understand their own emotions and situations more clearly. Sometimes, you may need to enlist the help of professionals, like when your teen admits to having a drinking problem and they want help. You can look at places like Muirwood near Vacaville or San Rafael if you’re in California for instance, to get your teen into a good rehab program that will help them overcome their addiction.
Why is honesty so difficult? When it comes to connecting with your teen and helping them improve their mental health, you can be honest with them about your own struggles. This may mean that you share about a time you were really sad and depressed, or when you felt fearful and anxious. The best thing you can do is to share what you did to get through the situation and then be there for your teen as they navigate their own emotions.
Help Them Set Boundaries With Others
Setting boundaries means learning to say no to things that don’t serve you well. It also means learning what to say yes to. It’s hard to figure out how to set boundaries with friends and in other relationships. Teach your teens to set boundaries with others. Teach them that they don’t have to share with their friends if they don’t want to. Tell them it’s okay to say no if they are comfortable going somewhere or doing something with their friends. And then give them space to practice saying no to those things they aren’t okay with. Some of your teaching boundaries might mean that you help them to articulate their own personal values and what they care about first so that they can compare things to those values. When something doesn’t align with your values, it’s easier to say no.
Encourage a Healthy Lifestyle
A healthy lifestyle is important for mental health in teens. Encourage them to find an activity they enjoy, such as sports or music, and make sure they get enough sleep. Encourage them to stay active by walking or doing exercise that they like. Model good eating habits with your children and try not to focus too much on whether something is good or bad. Keep your attention on healthy eating habits that can energize your teen, give them better focus at school, and help them reach their goals.
Teach Them About Mental Health Issues and How to Seek Help if Needed
It’s okay to teach your teen about depression, anxiety, and other mental health challenges they might experience. In fact, teaching them what they are and some of the warning signs may help them be proactive in seeking out help. They won’t feel like a failure if they know you are going to be there for them.