As a parent or guardian, your top priority is the health and well-being of the children in your care. Even though teenagers have more independence than younger kids, that doesn’t mean they’re not still vulnerable and in need of your support. The adolescent years can be one of the most challenging periods in a person’s life and often things that happen during this formative period stay with an individual for life.
While many might look back on those years with fondness, others remember years of being bullied, feeling depressed, and lost. This is why it’s important to look out for your teenager’s mental health, and here are 4 ways you can positively contribute to their well-being.
1. Talk to Them
They might not want to talk to you in the way they speak to their best friend, but that doesn’t mean that they never will need to talk to you. One of the best things you can do as a parent or guardian is to keep the lines of communication open and let them know they can talk to you about anything, anytime. You can do this by asking them questions about how their day was, by taking an interest in their friends and social life or simply asking them about what their favorite TV show or hobby is currently. It’s the little things that let them know you’re there when you need them the most.
2. Try to Limit Screen Time
This might not be easy, but studies have shown that too much screen time and social media has had very negative effects on people’s psyches, particularly teenagers. While reducing their time spent scrolling through newsfeeds might be a challenge, try to push for this. For example, make your evening meals about ‘family time’ and ban all phones and other devices from the room while you eat together and talk. An hour or two a day where they can take a break from their phones and social media could give their mind some peace.
3. Treatment Options
If you are growing concerned about your teenager’s mental health, don’t be afraid to reach out for help externally. Your doctor can refer you to specialist centers for adolescent therapies or teenage rehabilitation. There are many routes you can explore when it comes to treating teens’ mental health, like talking or group therapy, anti-depressants, or even family counseling sessions. There are also new treatments like TMS which are completely non-invasive and have been proven to be very effective.
4. Teach them About Self-Care
Everyone needs to look after themselves and part of that is knowing how to practice good self-care. Make sure you’re teaching your teenagers how to cope with difficult times healthily, like allowing themselves time to relax with a hot shower or bath, learning mindfulness techniques, getting exercise, and eating well. It’s a simple lesson to pass on, but one that could help them understand how to avoid self-destructive coping mechanisms now and in later life.
As a parent or guardian, you will always be concerned about the well-being of the kids in your care, no matter how old they are. As mental health begins to be discussed more openly and people are learning how important it is to maintain, make sure you’re doing what you can to protect your teenager.