Yesterday was World Mental Health Day – a day when people come together and express their understanding of mental health along with personal struggles and philosophies.
The day compelled us to think about the importance of mental health in teens. It’s such a complicated phase of life as you’re not entirely an adult but you’re also not a kid anymore. Teenagers go through mood swings and repressed feelings as they’re unable to comprehend their feelings entirely. This confusion and lack of self-awareness can lead to several mental health issues.
This is the time when they need their parents the most, and so to show love and support, parents must have the ability to help their children navigate through these tough times. They need to guide their children and help them come out of this difficult period.
What can a parent do to ensure the mental health of their child? Well, four recommendations are provided below that may be useful and effective in dealing with a child with mental health problems:
1. Create and Maintain a Safe Environment
Image credit: Raising children network
• When teens find themselves struggling, they often go back in their cocoon. They hide their true feelings and overestimate their ability to handle it all on their own. This can cause more problems and make matters worse. So it’s essential to make them feel welcomed – to share stories, feelings, problems, basically anything and everything that may be bothering them.
• You can start by creating a safe space so that they feel easy while sharing their issues. The last thing that they want is to be ridiculed and judged. Invite them for a team activity, prepare dinner together, or just watch a show on television, find a way to chat about life and their daily routine.
• You need to find ways to remind them that they are loved and cherished. You need to repeatedly verbalize that they can come to you in case of any problem and that you will listen to them without any judgment.
• Respond with phrases like ‘I understand’ and “that makes sense” so that they know that you’re actually listening and understanding their problems.
• Don’t make them feel uncomfortable. You can protect them and watch over them, but quietly stalk keep an eye on their every move. They don’t want a hawk constantly staring at them. Praise them when they do something good and award them if they achieve something.
2. Spend Quality Time Together
• You have to find a way to spend quality time together. The kitchen is a great place to achieve that! You can either converse with them during the time they’re doing the dishes or any other house chore. Cooking and eating is another ideal way to catch up on things. Strike to achieve daily goals and try to achieve them together.
• Now don’t put your nose in their business all the time. Adolescences is the time of freedom, – they want their privacy and time to self. Therefore, keep in mind to give them space to breathe and think.
• If your child feels frustrated, you can talk to them. And if they open up to you, don’t interfere or act like you‘re in charge. Offer them solutions and give guidance, but don’t order them around.
3. Work Together To Solve the Conflict
• As mentioned above, don’t boss them around and say unsupportive words things like “I told you so” instead, be calm and sort out the conflict together.
• If it makes you angry, try to calm yourself down first before engaging with the child.
• Avoid getting involved in who dominates who. It may seem challenging at first, but once you’ve made peace with the situation, it will be easier to find a way out. Hence, be empathetic and try to avoid fights at all cost.
• You need to understand the significance of transparency – tell your child the number of times you’ve messed up as a parent. When you allow yourself to be vulnerable, the children follow suit. This is not the time to show what an ideal person you are. Share your experiences organically and tell your child that it’s okay to not feel okay.
• Reflect on the situation and brainstorm solutions. Help your child process things, because a lot of times they just rub sweep it off under the carpet without ever acknowledging the impact.
4. Look after Yourself
• It’s not easy being a caregiver, and that too for a teenager. It’s extremely important for you to look after yourself and your own mental peace. Practice self-care with your child!
• Just because you’re looking after a child doesn’t mean you’re not allowed to feel overwhelmed and out of place. You can also seek help from others. The only way you’ll be able to help your child is if you’re healthy yourself, both physically and mentally.
• Make time for yourself and your relationships. Share your feelings, be open about your opinions, and explore new things from time to time.
• Make time to do the things that give you joy. You can shelter your child and work all the time to give them the best life that they deserve.
But in doing so, don’t forget to listen to your own wishes and needs. Know what you want and need and never sacrifice your personal time for anyone. This time will help you reenergize and be the best version of yourself.