Raising a child is rarely a smooth, simple process that parents naturally understand from the get-go. It takes lots of work, patience, and effort, especially when that child grows into a teenager. This becomes even more of a challenge when a teen struggles with mental health issues.
When it comes to parenting a teenager with mental health issues, there are a handful of strategies you can use to make the process easier. It’s important that parents know how to spot signs of mental health issues and the ways to help their child overcome them.
Recognizing Mental Health Issues in Your Teenager
In some cases, parents may brush off the signs of a mental health condition in their teenager, thinking it’s a phase. As a parent, it’s important to be mindful of the difference between teen rebellion and mental health issues.
One of the most noticeable symptoms you’ll see in a teenager struggling with mental health is a consistent sadness or depression that lasts longer than two weeks at a time. They may start withdrawing from social situations with friends or family, sometimes avoiding these interactions altogether. As these withdrawals progress, they may shift to angry outbursts or frequent irritability.
When parenting a child with mental health issues, you may see their overall mood change, and at times they may be prone to uncontrollable behavior. They might start overeating or undereating as a means of coping with their emotions. They could also struggle with poor sleep, headaches, difficulty concentrating, or problems with schoolwork and grades.
More severe cases will see teens start hurting themselves or even talking about suicide.
Challenges of Raising a Teen Struggling with Mental Health
Raising a child is never an easy task, but raising a teen struggling with their mental health has its own set of issues for parents to be aware of.
When a parent sees their teenager struggling with their mental health, they may feel confused or frustrated because it’s difficult to understand the problem. This may lead to frustration and stress on the parents’ part since they don’t know how to fix it. In the long run, these concerns can cause anxiety and even depression for the parent as well.
As a parent works to help their child, they may grow tired and become exhausted from exerting so much effort. This state of exhaustion can lead to additional tension with loved ones and cause more conflict within the home.
Parents may also begin to feel guilty and disappointed in themselves for not doing better. This often happens when previous tactics or efforts haven’t made a significant difference in improving their teen’s mental health.
How to Parent & Support Your Teenager with Their Mental Health
If you are parenting a child with mental health issues, there are plenty of strategies you can use to make the process easier.
Educate yourself on the mental health condition
The more a parent knows about their child’s specific mental health condition, the more they can understand how to help. Take the time to self-study the condition or ask for advice from friends and family who have experienced similar struggles.
Attend family counseling
Going to family counseling sessions is a great way to bring healthy communication back into your home. A counselor will offer ways for parents to better discuss issues with their teens and make better decisions together.
Practice stress management techniques
Guided meditation, breathing exercises, and exercise are some of the best techniques to help manage stress and anxiety. Parents should make should practice these regularly themselves and invite their children to be involved as well.
Find opportunities to relax and unwind
Going on vacation has so many benefits for mental health and building relationships. As the connection between parents and their teens improves, it’s a great idea to get away from the day-to-day grind and enjoy some time elsewhere.
Offer praise and encouragement to your teenager
Words of affirmation are one of the most powerful love languages parents can use with their teens. Sharing praise for both small and large achievements will make a big difference in building a child’s confidence. Even a heartfelt “I love you” is enough to positively impact a parent-teen relationship.
Get help from mental health professionals
If a parent struggles to find a solution or see progress, mental health professionals offer expert guidance. When you work with a reputable team, they’ll provide all the necessary tools and information to help you with parenting a child with mental health issues.
Do You or Your Teen Need Extra Help with Mental Health?
Parenting a child with mental health issues is a difficult process, but there are ways to help yourself along the way. If you or your teen is struggling with mental health issues, the mental health professionals at the Georgetown Behavioral Health Institute are here for your support. Reach out to the Georgetown Behavioral Health Institute today to learn more about our programs and find out how we can help.