Tips for Working on Your Teen’s Mental Health5 min read
Do you feel you are not doing enough for your child’s mental health? Or are you concerned you might be missing red flags in their behavior?
Like all parents, you are probably worried about your teen’s academic performance. But, how often do you ask them questions like “How are you doing?”. Not many parents understand that teenagers need more than just basic parenting. As children enter youth, they undertake many psychological challenges like identity formation and dealing with stress as a part of their development. Research shows that the mental well-being of teenagers is multidimensional, and the risks associated with it make this group vulnerable to psychological issues. Thus, parents need to support their children and help them grow into mentally stable adults.
Here are a few ways you may find helpful to keep your teen’s mental health in check.
Seek professional help
Never be reluctant to take your child to a mental health specialist when you notice red flags such as depression and addiction. For example, talk to your doctor if your teen experiences more anxiety than usual. In worst-case scenarios, if you notice unreasonable mood swings or sudden changes in their social circle, there might be a bigger issue like drug abuse. In such cases, get immediate professional help.
Many rehab facilities like Delphi Health Group offer various treatment options for people of all ages. They provide an individualized treatment plan that suits the needs of the patient.
Watch your behavior
Children model the attitudes and behaviors of their parents. If you are facing a problem or using maladaptive coping strategies to deal with the problem, your children will follow in your footsteps without you even noticing. So to improve your teen’s mental health, resolve your issues first.
Try to monitor yourself when you are feeling down, notice an irregularity in your sleeping or eating pattern, or have mood swings. These are clear signs your mental health is deteriorating. If you feign ignorance to such symptoms, not only will your mental health suffer, but your marital relationship might also take a hit. Consequently, your condition will also put the psychological wellness of your child at risk.
Talk it out
Be the first to help your child by raising concerns. Talk to your child when you observe any peculiarities in your teen’s mood or behavior. Don’t be annoyed or surprised if your child doesn’t open up. There are chances they might be embarrassed and afraid to talk or even not know how to react. They may not realize that they are struggling with their emotions in the first place.
Since you are the one helping out, start the conversation by expressing your concern and refrain from placing blame on them. Proceed by asking open-ended statements like, “You have been looking down lately; how are you feeling?” Let them tell they want instead of pressurizing them if they are not ready yet. Listen calmly without interrupting them and validate their feelings. Let them find a way out by themselves instead of suggesting one.
Develop healthy habits
All your efforts for your child’s mental well-being will go to waste if you let them practice unhealthy habits. While many parents think it is normal for teenagers to sleep through the day, stay up late, or eat unhealthy food, that’s not the case. Allowing a little freedom is okay, but monitor them so you can spot an infrequent occurrence turning into a bad habit.
Ensure your teen follows a regular sleep schedule and clocks in at least eight hours of sleep. Limit their intake f unhealthy food. Add nutritious foods like fruits, vegetables, fish, yogurt, chia seeds, coconut, etc., to your child’s diet. Encourage your child to partake in regular physical activity like exercising or playing outdoor games. These healthy habits will have a cumulative effect on your child’s mental and physical well-being. These will boost their energy, improve their mood, and enhance productivity.
Focus on self-esteem
Self-esteem helps children develop a better self-image of their own which renders a significant impact on their mental health. There are plenty of ways to help your children enhance their self-esteem. Look for opportunities to praise your child for their good habits and achievements. For example, when your teen earns good grades, praise their efforts. Refrain from giving unrealistic praise like “You are the smartest student in the school.”
Moreover, providing opportunities for your child where they can feel independent is an effective way to support their mental health. You can instill a sense of independence by letting them manage tasks themselves. Also, try to help them have healthy self-talk. When your child says things like “I will never be good at sports,” ask them questions like “Where’s the evidence that says so.” This positive self-talk will help them develop a positive self-image.
Use stress management techniques
It is easier to protect your child from abuse or bullying than to prevent them from experiencing stress in their adolescent years. For example, your child is bound to encounter stress at school, have disagreements with friends, etc. But, there is always a way out.
Teach your child how to manage stress by using healthy coping techniques. Talk to them and inquire about what’s bothering them. If they are hesitant, look for other ways to relieve their stress. Suggest them to try out a few stress-relieving ways or engage them in one of their hobbies. Be proactive and persistent in working out the stress reliever for your child by trying various methods like journaling, painting, talking to a friend, practicing mindfulness, etc. By teaching your child a few healthy coping techniques to tackle stress, you will be setting your child up for success in the long run.
Teenagers are vulnerable to mental health issues. Just as you look after your child’s physical health and safety, meeting their psychological needs is also your responsibility. Even the slightest negligence can land your child on thin ice. Use the tips in this article to ensure your teen develops into an emotionally healthy adult.