What should I know about the emotional health of my teen?
The teenage years of your child can be a difficult period. Teens may feel overwhelmed by the emotional and physical changes they are going through. At the same time, teens may be facing many pressures: by being accepted by friends, parents and other adults to do well in school, or activities such as sports or part-time jobs.
The teen years are a period of transition from childhood to adulthood. Teens usually have a conflict to be dependent on their parents even though they feel a great desire to be independent. They can experiment with new values, ideas, hairstyles and clothing styles as they try to define who they are. Although this may be uncomfortable for parents, this is a normal part of being a teenager.
What can I do to help my teen?
Communicating your love to your child is the most important thing you can do. Children decide how they feel about themselves largely by how their parents react to them. For this reason, it is important for parents to help children to make them feel good about themselves. It is also important to communicate your values and set expectations and limits, for example insist on honesty, self-control and respect for others while allowing teenagers to have their own space.
Parents of adolescents often only notice the problems and they may get in the habit of giving mostly negative feedback and criticism. Although teens need feedback information, they respond best when the reaction is positive. Praising appropriate behavior can help your teen to feel the satisfaction of achievement.
What warning signs should I watch?
Teens, especially those with low self-esteem or family problems are at high risk of a number of self-destructive behaviors such as using drugs or alcohol or having sex without protection. Depression and eating disorders are significant problems in adolescents. The following may be warning signs that your child has a problem:
- Agitated or restless behavior
- Weight gain or loss
- A drop in grades
- Difficulty concentrating
- Ongoing feelings of sadness
- Not caring about people and things
- Lack of motivation
- Fatigue, loss of energy and lack of interest in activities
- Low self-esteem
- Difficulty sleeping