Practical and emotional ways to be there for your teenager…
Help your teenager take care of their mental health with these top 10 tips:
1. REGULAR CHECK-INS
Make a point of checking in with your teenager on a regular basis. Ask them how their day has been or what their plans are for the evening. Ask if there’s anything they’re worried about or any way you can help them. Let your teen know that you are present and always there for them, should they need you.
2. MAKE TIME
Life can be hectic and it’s not always easy or possible to spend as much quality time as we’d like with our children and family. If you can, try to make time at least once a week to focus on your teenager. Watch a movie, go for a walk or cook dinner together and use the time to talk, listen and bond. For more ideas on building a stronger relationship with your teen, click here.
Communicating with teenagers can often be difficult. Ultimately, most people just want to be heard and understood, and teens are no different. Being a sympathetic, supportive ear, means you can build a stronger bond with your teen and become aware of the issues that matter to them most. Click here for advice on how to really hear your teen.
4. ENCOURAGE OUTDOOR ACTIVITIES
Coax your teenager to spend more time outdoors and less time holed up in their bedroom. Buddying up with your teen can be a great way to promote and encourage a healthier, more balanced lifestyle. If your teen suffers from low moods or issues with confidence and self-esteem, then exercise and eating a healthy diet can go a long way to improving how they feel in their own skin. Find more ideas on encouraging healthy lifestyle choices here.
5. REDUCE SCREEN TIME
You probably know from experience how difficult it is to convince your teen to part with their mobile, console, laptop or tablet, even just for a short while. Yet the benefits of reducing screen time really could make a difference to your teen: it helps to lower stress levels and reduce eye strain caused by blue light, as well as improving your teen’s sleeping pattern and general mood. Click here to discover 10 ways to reduce your teen’s screen time.
6. BE REASSURING
Give your teenager reassurance as often as you can. Let them know that their feelings and thoughts are valid. Let them know that they can be honest about how they’re feeling and not to worry about you being shocked, angry or upset by what they say. Worried your child is depressed? Click here for more support.
7. ENCOURAGE A HEALTHY SLEEP PATTERN
It’s widely recommended that teenagers get 8-10 hours of sleep every night, but most teens aren’t getting anywhere near that. Sleep is especially important for teenagers because they are still growing and maturing. A lack of good quality sleep can affect your teen’s concentration and problem-solving skills, as well as their mood and ability to cope with stress. If your teen needs more sleep, click here for advice.
8. SCHOOL SUPPORT
Your child’s school may be able to offer additional mental health support. Talk to your teen’s support teacher or ask if there is a designated mental health or wellbeing officer who can help you. If school-related stress is at the root of your teen’s mental health problems, don’t hesitate to reach out to the school to look at ways you can work together to support your child. Read more about supporting your teen’s school stress here.
9. BE FLEXIBLE
Your teen may resist your attempts to connect – refusing to talk or to spend time with you. Try a different approach: ask your teen to write their worries in a notebook or suggest they send a text or an email instead. Not every teen feels comfortable speaking about their feelings but they may be more agreeable to texting, rather than talking.
10. SEEK MORE SUPPORT
If you’re concerned your teen may be depressed or suffering from anxiety, seek help from your GP. If you are worried that your child or teenager may be considering suicide, try to encourage them to talk about how they are feeling. Listening seriously to what they have to say and taking action is the best way to help.
If you think your child is in crisis, is threatening to harm themselves or you just have a ‘gut feeling’ that something is very wrong, get help immediately. Take your child to A&E if necessary or contact your local CAMHS crisis team or call Childline on 0808 8005000. For more advice on supporting a child with suicidal thoughts, click here.