Your teenage years might be the most fun, confusing, challenging time of your life. It’s when you start to discover who you are. As you carve out your identity, you also have to worry about other things. Are people going to accept you for you? Are you going to go to college? Are you going to find a date for the prom? Are you going to pass your chemistry test?
Teens must juggle academics, sports, school activities, family obligations, social life, and jobs. They face the pressure to be perfect. They are expected to both look and act in a way that is acceptable to their peers, parents, teachers, and coaches. Sometimes it might feel like they are going to explode from all the pressure. As a parent, you can be a source of support to your child.
Check in on them regularly. Since their world is so fast paced, it is helpful to check in on them. Ask open ended questions e.g. “tell me about your day”, “tell me about a high point and a low point you had at school today”, “give me an update on so and so (their best friend).” This lets you know how your teen is doing and deepens conversation by not asking questions that elicit simple “yes/no” answers.
Be a friend. Yes, you are a parent but you can still be a friend to them. Ask them to hangout! Show some interest in learning about what they love: what’s their favorite movie/song/game and why? Choose to watch/listen/learn these things with them. Treat them to a nice one on one lunch. Bonding with your teen is so important! This makes it easier for them to confide in you.
Encourage them to do activities they love. Maybe you loved being a track star in high school, but that does not mean your teen is going to love it. Maybe they want to play soccer or do theatre. Help them engage in activities that will make them happy and promote their unique preferences and skills.
Remind them how much you love them. No one ever gets sick of someone saying “I love you and I am proud of you.” Words are powerful!
Is your teen on social media?
Social media dynamics add even more pressure to our teens. How many followers do they have? Did their crush like their picture? Were they invited to the party everyone is posting about? Social media has made bullying ever-present in some teens’ lives. Rumors can spread like wildfire on social media. According to the Pew Research Center, 59 percent of U.S. teens have experienced some type of harassment on social media. Being a parent means walking a tightrope that straddles invasiveness and safety. While you do not want to be too invasive in your teens social media, it is always a good idea to have some barometer for their social media accounts. Familiarizing yourself with each social media platform by making some social media accounts of your own is always a good idea. Ask to “follow” your teen. Talk openly and often about online safety- including online bullying and not sharing personal information .
How do we help our teens thrive?
Many teens struggle with anxiety, depression, and social phobias. Hold on to hope! Mental health support is available to struggling teens. Thrive offers a weekly teen support group that meets every Thursday at 5 p.m. The group is intended to help teens work through struggles and emotions alongside other teens who are going through similar situations. We understand that some teens might need higher levels of support. Our therapists are passionate about working with youth so they can live a life they are in love with. In addition to eating disorders, we specialize in treating an array of mental health struggles, including anxiety and depressive disorders, obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD), grief and loss, life transitions, other mood disorders, and the intersection of these. Let us support your teen and provide the care they need to heal and grow. Visit ThriveWellnessReno.com to learn more.