You don’t have to be a mental health professional in order to train your teenager how to maintain his or her mental health.
Parents are the most important teachers.
In fact, training a teen how to have a healthy mind starts when they are toddlers and even infants!
Understanding that not every baby is born completely healthy. There are health complications to consider. And even then, there are many opportunities for teachable moments.
Let’s consider your average, typical teenager. Yes, the rebellious, eager to prove he is an adult teenager. We are very familiar with them because we use to be them.
But today’s teenager has a lot to deal with. There are many stressors. Some good and some challenging.
Consider your teenager’s average day. School: Adjusting to a new day, classes, different teachers, classmates, peer pressure, bullying, affirmation, social life. Home: Parental pressure, homework, chores, sibling rivalry, struggling for privacy, struggling with self-identity.
This too is the average day of a child.
It may not seem like much, but when you break down every activity and demand, it can be very stressful. Add these stressors to your teenager’s temperament and any other behavioral problems and you will see a more in depth picture.
One in four high school students indicated experiencing feelings of sadness and hopelessness for a period of two weeks or more (Youth Risk Behavior Survey 2013).
Before a tragedy of teen suicide occurs, there are events that lead up to making such a permanent decision. Prior to having behavioral issues, there were stress issues. Unmanaged stress can cause severe problems.
How is your teen currently dealing with stress?
Are you aware that they are stressed?
Every teenager deals with stress. Whether it is the stress of passing an exam, the pressure of pleasing parents and teachers or dealing with grief from losing their best friend or even pet.
How do teens learn to deal with stress?
They watch parents and adult role models. They didn’t just start watching during their teen years. They have been watching since childhood.
3 Simple Ways to Train Your Teen
- TEACH. Let them know about stress. Have an open conversation about good and bad stressors. Ask them to identify stressors in their lives. Emphasis the importance of balancing stressors, as well as, the consequences of unmanaged stress.
- MODEL. Let them see good examples in you. How you respond to stress will show them how to respond. If you are dealing with stress management or don’t know how to deal with your new challenges, do not be afraid to seek help or guidance from someone. This is a great example for your teen. You want them to come to you when they feel they can’t manage.
- MONITOR. Teaching and modeling should be done daily. Take time to monitor and evaluate what stage your teen is experiencing. Teens can leave home on top of the world and come home as if their lives are completely ruined. And to them it might be. Pay attention to any signs of new stressors or if they are still finding it challenging to manage the same problem.
It’s never too early or too late to train children or teens. This week of Teen Suicide Awareness, I challenge you to start today!
Will you advocate?