How Teens Reach Out to Adults • Sometimes teens are very direct when they want your attention. “I need to talk with you.” “Can you and I go to the park tomorrow?” “Watch this movie with me.” • Teens don’t always tell us in words that they need our attention. Sometimes they show us indirectly through their behaviors. We just have to know what to look for.
How Teens Reach Out to Adults • EXAMPLES • Eddie sits next to his father in the den when he needs to talk, but he does not say anything until his father says “What’s on your mind?” • Janet cooks breakfast on the weekend for her parents when she wants to spend time with them. • Frank goes to his uncle’s workplace after school when he wants to spend time with uncle Mike.
How Teens Reach Out to Adults • Teens differ in how they reach out to their parents and other adults. How does your teen do it? • When are the times that your teen reaches out to you? • Is there a difference in how your teen reaches out when she just wants to connect with you compared to when she’s having a problem?
How Teens Reach Out to Adults • By spending a little time each day with your teen, even if it is just straightening up a room together or having a meal, you have an invaluable window into your teen’s life. • Sometimes your teen’s life might become stressful and your teen may need help to deal with a problem.
Reasons Teens Need Help • Stress, anger and/or depression resulting from life’s difficulties, such as: • Academic problems. • Problems with family members, peers, close friends or dating partners. • Problems with teachers or supervisors. • Worries about the future.
Teens and Depression Why teens may be depressed: Stress • Teens like adults experience stress in their lives. • Teens often feel most stressed by situations they see as outside of their control. • These situations can be anything from frustrations and demands at school to, moving, to problems with friends or even the death of a loved one. • Teens like adults can sometimes feel overwhelmed by the stressors in their lives. • Unlike adults however, teens may not yet have a means of coping with this stress.
How Parents Can Help • Realize that teen stress is something to be taken seriously. • Watch to see if stress is affecting the teen’s health, behavior, thoughts or feelings. • Listen carefully to your teen and watch for signs of overload. • Learn and Model stress management skills. • Support your teens involvement in extra-curricular pro-social activities.
How teens can manage their stress • Exercise and eat regularly • Watch out for excess Caffeine intake which can lead to anxiety and agitation • Learn relaxation exercises • Learn to be assertive rather than aggressive or passive • Learn coping skills such as breaking large problems into smaller parts • Decrease negative talk and thoughts into more positive ways of thinking • Learn to feel good about doing a good job • Take breaks from stressful situations • Build a supportive network of friends
When stress becomes to muchSigns your teen may be depressed • If these symptoms last 2 or more weeks your teen may be depressed: • Consistently sleeping more or less than usual • Frequent and lengthy bouts of anger • Chronic boredom • Inability to focus or think clearly • Loss of interest in things formerly enjoyed • Withdrawing from friends and Family • Sexual Promiscuity
Depression can lead to Thoughts of Suicide • These signs when they occur together may indicate suicidal thoughts • Drug or Alcohol abuse • Giving away possessions • Preoccupation with death • Feelings of Despair • Self abusive behavior • Overwhelming expressions of guilt or shame
If you think your teen is having thoughts of suicide…… • Get your teen talking: encourage them to talk about how they are feeling, don’t be afraid to ask if they have thought about suicide • Assess the danger: determine if they have developed a plan and a way to carry out the plan. If they have it’s serious. • Don’t preach: This is a time when your child needs to know that you care and are there to LISTEN to them. • Don’t minimize feelings: whatever your teen is feeling is serious to them, even if it doesn’t seem so to you. • Take action: If you feel your teen is in danger, contact a suicide help line, a mental health professional or your local clergy. DON’T WAIT.