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Talk About Mental Illness With Your Teen

By Rachel Shouse

It's hard for teens to open up about the things that really matter. They feel vulnerable and they may not know how you'll respond. The anxiousness from these fears make it difficult for your kids to talk to you about the hard topics. They're also usually worried about fighting or the repercussions of their actions. They're going to go through bad things and tough feelings. They'll need your advice through those times. There are steps you can take that will guide you in the right direction. 

Be Their Safe Place

No one likes feeling vulnerable, especially in a negative situation. You, as parents, are allowed to be upset when your child has come clean about decisions or actions they've made recently. Now isn't the time to snap on them.

It's hard to admit guilt, even as an adult. You know how they feel. Now is the time to practice empathy. Instead of interrupting them and escalating the situation, be in the habit of listening until they're done talking. Now isn't the time for your questions and comments. Not yet at least.

Build Strong Children

Teenagers struggle with inadequate self-confidence and self-esteem issues. It's normal, but it's important that you're there to help reassure them. Tell your sons how proud you are of them and that you see how hard they're trying. Tell your girls how brilliant and beautiful they are. Saying encouraging words to your children regularly will stick with them.

Peer Pressure and Mental Illness

Children of all ages are capable of less than kind and appropriate behavior. No child is an exception, everyone is capable of being mean. I say that to bring comfort to those who have a tougher child. My second child is a handful. He's a good kid, but he's impulsive and makes poor decisions sometimes.

We knew that something was going on with our son when he started displaying extreme anger. He's 9 years old and still struggles with self-control. He has Attention Deficit Disorder, adolescent depression, an undiagnosed cognitive impairment, the list goes on.

Know that you're not alone if you have a problem child. You just need a little knowledge to help identify the problem. Once the problem is identified, you have the ability to fix it. Here are common symptoms to look out for in your kids and teenagers.

  • Acting withdrawn and antisocial
  • Escalated and frequent mood swings
  • Changes in their sleep and eating habits
  • Lack of motivation and interest in things they used to enjoy
  • Struggle to sit still, focus, and complete tasks

The National Suicide Prevention Hotline is 800-273-8255.

To learn more about your health, wellness and fitness, see your local chiropractor at The Joint Chiropractic in Brandon, Fla.

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