It hits all of us at one time or another. Just as in happens with us, your teen clams up, shuts up, and turns off. Teenage depression, stress, anxiety, and even suicide, is more prevalent than you think in our teenage population, and right here in our own communities. As a Marriage and Family Counsellor, Mental and Emotional Health Practitioner, Grief & Loss Specialist,and Parenting Consultant, I have published about it before, and I’m and writing about it again, because it has hit several communities recently.
The teenager who lives across the street, or the awesome happy-go-lucky kid who may be your child’s’ best friend, may look fine and appear okay in the brief snippets of time we see them, but on the inside, and when alone, the struggle, the turmoil, the suffering, and the loneliness, may be great. I’ve always said, it’s the silent hostage-taker. As a Marriage and Family Counsellor, Mental and Emotional Wellness Practitioner, Ambassador to Canada’s Bell Let’s Talk Campaign, and Mom to 3 teens of my own, it’s so critical that we not judge or stigmatize. Acceptance is where it begins, and istening and being available, is the ‘how.’ This is the beginning…
Teens are scared to talk and share their feelings. They fear ridicule, judgement, stigma, loss of love and respect, criticism, and they fear how they feel. Often, they don’t even know how they’re feeling, and are confused, overwhelmed, and feel alone. When does it stop? How can parents build solid bridges and mend broken fences with their kids so that despite what looks fine on the outside, we still know what’s going on on the inside?
It Starts Here…
*Hear them, and actually listen.
*Build bridges. You can start when you finish reading this post.
*Don’t bring the past up. Give your children the opportunity to do and be better, moving forward.
*Mind YOUR emotions. Lead by example.
*Always keep kind, calm, collected.
*Disconnect. Your phone or computer are not an appendage.
*Be aware of what they’re doing. Take an interest. Show interest. Spend some time being inquisitive and interested, NOT interrogative and suspicious.
*Know their friends. Invite them over.
*Set limits and boundaries with your kids. If there’s no buy-in, there’s no responsibility.
*Talk to your children about accepting others without question, being fair and kind to everyone, that their words matter and leave residual effect.
*Keep your marital issues away from your children. They shouldn’t be hearing and acrimony or dissention. Do have constructive conversations in from of them. Show them how it’s done.
*Praise. Praise. Praise. Show love and emotion. Be kind but firm.
*Consequence only when everyone is calm. Talk about what happened. Empower your children to be able to understand the error of their ways, and talk about alternative choices and behaviors. Consequences work, and are gifts, only when there’s a conversation, a lesson learned, and you have empowered your children.
*Punishments are your will upon others. There’s no lesson. No empowering. No filling their bucket with responsibility, ownership, understanding, or ability.
* Make it impactful and meaningful. Sometimes 20 minutes here and there can be better than 2 or 3 hours.
*Have plans. Make a date. Make it regular. Give them something to look forward to.
*Ask for help and support. I know that’s hard. I know from personal experience. Muster up the courage, and ask anyway.
Sometimes, even when we’re doing all of the above, doing the best we can, with what we have, at any given moment in time, our children suffer inside. We suffer inside. Sometimes, despite being our best, doing all we can, we loose. One wrong word, one look, one intimation, can break a life. But one word, one look, one kind intimation can also change a life. Talk to your children about the importance of being kind and being nice, being understanding towards others, to stop judging, and stop making assumptions. It starts here. With you. With all of Us. Lead by example. Your children look up to you.
The world wants all of us. Be your best. Love your best. Begin a new relationship with your children, and yourself, right now. There sin;t a better time, a sooner time, or more important time.
If you’d like help or support, please feel free to connect with me.