This guest post is submitted by Dawn, a professional teacher and writer
Teens often suffer high levels of stress.
School pressures, friendships, relationships, body changes, peer pressure, and new experiences put them through tough times when they are completely overwhelmed and confused. During these periods, they need all the support they can get.
Some very effective ways of giving them this necessary support include the following:
Listen and Observe
Do not constantly nag your child about how they are feeling and they are feeling the way they are. This will just cause them to withdraw into their own little world even more. If they want to talk about an issue, just listen.
Don’t bring up how you felt when you were their age; the environment now is so very different than it was when you were young. Be attuned to the way their voice sounds when they are talking. This may give immediate clues as to how they really feeling.Observe the body language.
Are they standing tall and confident, or are they slouched over like they have the weight of the whole world on their shoulders? Do they maintain eye contact, or stare into space or down at the floor when you talk to them?
Ask the school counselor about how they carry themselves at school .
There is much that can be learned about the moods and mindsets of teenagers just by watching how they move.
When your kid asks for help, give them good advice relevant to the current situation.
For example, if she is really shy and doesn’t want to give a presentation in front of the class, help her by having her practice in front of you and other family members.
Be the person that you needed when you were her age. If she doesn’t want your help, respect that decision and allow her to work on solutions on her own. The one exception to this is if she displays teenage suicidal tendencies.
If this occurs, immediately take her to a mental health clinic or emergency room.
Know When to Provide Space
Often teens just want to be left alone. When they make this very clear to you, be sure to give them the privacy and alone time that they desire.
Hovering over them and asking questions is only going to make them more anxious and defensive. They need time and quiet to sort through issues themselves.
Help with Coping Skills
Exercise is always a great antidote for stress. Getting your teen involved in sports is one of the best steps you can take. If this is just not possible, encouraging them to take up yoga and/or meditation can also be very effective.
You can also give your teen a journal where they can record their innermost thoughts. Allow them their privacy and never read their entries unless it is a matter of life or death.
A great time to give them journals is at the beginning of the year – it will make them feel as if they have the opportunity to start with a clean fresh slate.
Get Professional Help
If all of your efforts fail or just don’t seem to help much or if your child displays teenage suicidal tendencies, it is time to get professional assistance for your child.
A school counselor, therapist, psychiatrist, or psychologist can all be of great help to your teen’s well-being. Often teenagers can open up to and take advice from objective individuals such as these.
Group therapy can also be a viable option where they are surrounded by their peers who have the same issues.
If you try all of these suggestions and your child truly needs help, do not wait to get it for her – arrange for it as soon as possible. There may be issues going on that you know nothing about that can have a detrimental effect on her overall mental health.
About the Author
Dawn is a regular writer at ParentingMonkey.com. She is an experienced classroom teacher and comes home to a full house of her own.