Holding hands.jpeg

Tips for Parents of Teens

Being a parent can be challenging. There is no guidebook or manual that tells us how to interact with our children, but there are many things that we can do at home to support our teens.

• Open communication – Communicating with your teen can help them cope with many challenges. These challenges include mental health issues such as depression, anxiety, and the social medial pressures that they experience every day. Communication can also increase and improve the quality of your connection with your teen and your family unit. Communicating is easier said than done. In order to open the lines of communication, here are several things to keep in mind:

➢ Timing is everything. Make sure that you and your teen are both in a good place before starting a conversation. If your teen is busy, has had a bad day, or is preoccupied, consider waiting for a better time to check in with him/her.

➢ Don’t lecture, minimize your teen’s issues, or tell your teen what they “should” do. Teens respond better if they feel heard and respected. If you come off as patronizing, there is a good chance your son or daughter will shut down and you will miss the opportunity to connect with him/her.

➢ LISTEN. Giving your teen the opportunity to vent, share feelings, or complain can be eye opening and really give you perspective on what they are going through.

➢ Ask if they have thought about what it would take to make things better. If they haven’t, make sure that your teen knows that you are there to support them no matter what and that you will work through it together. If they have thought about what they need, support them in following through with their plan.

➢ Offer to get outside help and normalize the issue for them. Reassure your teen that many people struggle with issues and that sometimes, seeking help from a counselor or therapist can help.

➢ Make sure that you STAY CALM and avoid letting your emotions rule your response. It is not uncommon for parents to blame themselves when their children experience challenges and difficulties in their lives. It might help to view your teen sharing something personal as an honor. This means that they trust you! If your teen has a mental health concern such as depression or anxiety, keep in mind that you can be a very important part of the plan to move forward and a support for your teen.

• Cover the basics - In addition to communication, sleep, diet and exercise are very important to mood regulation. Teens need at least 8 to 10 hours of sleep at night. Unfortunately, with all the academic and social demands that teens face today, many believe that 8 to 10 hours a night is unrealistic. Make sure to discuss the importance of good sleep hygiene and help your teen develop good sleep habits. Talk about diet and exercise and how you can support them in these areas and how your family can work together to develop healthy habits.