Change is challenging. Teenagers can feel like many things in their life are changing at the same time which is very unsettling… their bodies, friendships, moving from school to uni or a first job, their relationship with you. And facing these life transitions can be a great source of anxiety.
So here are some of my tips for how you can make the transition of leaving for Uni easier for your teen…and for you!
Prepare for changes
Make sure to both think through any life transitions that are around the corner for your teen. Envisaging what is going to change will make the transition smoother for them. For example, looking up online about the university course I was going to do and getting all the practical things ready for moving into my new place massively reduced my anxiety and fear of the unknown. You can even make it into a fun activity! Visualising, discussing and getting excited about the change is a good way to distract your teen. Obviously, when they start to...
Exams and academic performance can be really stressful for young people and put additional pressure on their mental health. Exam anxiety was a serious struggle for me, but something I learnt to manage over time. So today I’m going to share my top tips to help your child cope with exam anxiety.
#1 Helping them to prepare
What I found really helpful was to make sure I was fully prepared for an exam. This included having my notes in order and starting revision early. Spreading out the revision made me feel less rushed and less panicked in the lead up to the exam. Maybe try recommending to your teen not to leave revision until the last minute as this can often cause extra stress.
They might appreciate you helping them to get small things ready for the exam, such as a pencil case or a nice pen, or helping them work out where the exam is located, so the small things don’t add to your teen’s anxiety. Sometimes having even the smallest thing go wrong on the...
I will never be good enough
Nobody likes me
…are some of the self-critical comments I’d say to myself daily.
All young people think bad things about themselves at times, but when their inner voices constantly put them down and make them feel like a failure, it can have a profound effect on their self-confidence and self-esteem.
In my teenage years, I was constantly hard on myself. It came from the social pressures of being a young person, growing up and finding my identity, from using negative self-talk as a way to protect myself from what I thought others thought of me, and from my extended family constantly comparing me to the other young people in my family.
The problem was that I started to believe some of these critical statements.
I’m writing this blog to give parents and loved ones some support and guidance as to how you can help your own child steer away from destructive self-criticism
All teens have low moments. But when those low moments become the norm and regularly affect their day to day lives, we call this depression.
I’m now a 23-year-old woman, but I experienced depression all through my teens. It left me feeling lonely and detached at times, but depression is much more than feeling sad. Some days I would feel as though things just felt ‘wrong’ or ‘off’, feeling really irritable around friends and family, even carrying a conversation, or smiling felt like a struggle. Other days, I would be crying for seemingly no reason, or feeling so incredibly numb, I felt hopeless and as though I was suffocating in all these overwhelming thoughts and feelings.
I’m writing this blog to give parents, grandparents, or loved ones some ideas and guidance as to how you can support your own child through depression and ease their emotional states during their low moments.
How can you help your child manage the emotional strain of...
How art has helped my mental health
Art has been so important for my mental health and it is something that may help you too.
I have always loved creating art and not only does it help me to unwind but to communicate my thoughts and feelings. Once I have finished a painting, I find it comforting and empowering to know that it represents a little part of my mind and that my thoughts can be illustrated in ways that I didn’t know they could be. Particularly when I am stressed, painting is almost like a weight lifted off my shoulders and onto the page.
Like many people, I like to use art as a way to relax. Art has this healing power that is unlike any type of therapy or mental health support. The act of actually putting paint on a canvas, or pencil to paper, helps you escape from everyday problems and just ‘slow down’. Some people with mental health problems or people struggling with their mental health find that making art significantly improves their mood....
For many young people, social situations – whether it’s going to school, birthday parties, or a sporting event – can be a very overwhelming and intimidating situation for even the most confident, outgoing teen, but for the quiet, shy, or anxious teen, it can be an exceptionally scary situation.
My experience of dealing with my social anxiety was that I wished my parents would accept me for myself and wouldn’t get frustrated at me for being ‘different’ from other teens. I needed them to validate my feelings during my anxiety at social situations instead of downplaying them all the time.
I’m writing this blog to try to help you support your own child’s anxiety during the challenges of social situations.
How can you help your child manage their social anxiety?
It can be heart-breaking to watch your teen struggle in social situations, especially when these situations are meant to be fun and exciting for your child, but these...
Social media has exploded in recent years and the media is full of stories that it’s having a profoundly negative impact on young people. Lots of parents are worried that their children are constantly checking posts and never a few feet away from their phone…
BUT IS IT ALL BAD?
And SHOULD YOU BE PROTECTING YOUR CHILD from the dangers of social media?
Let’s start with the BAD!
Cyberbullying is bullying through social media or other digital platforms (email, forum posts etc). Young people regularly tell us about the distress and anxiety they feel when a friend or fellow student posts an embarrassing photo, or shares private stories on social media or even send upsetting or threatening messages. Cyberbullying will negatively impact any child but is particularly dangerous when a young person already has fragile mental health. It can further lower their self-esteem, cause feelings of shame and isolation and add to the anxiety and depression they may be...
It could be losing a close friend or family member, or the separation of parents, or experiencing a broken home, or constant changes such as moving schools or houses, or emotional or physical abuse.
These are just a few examples of traumatic events that can leave an emotional mark that young people, like myself, can’t seem to shake off.
My personal experience of dealing with several traumatic events in my childhood and teens, was that I wish my parents had tried to understand what I was going through and done more to help me cope during this tumultuous time with their reassurance, support, and love.
I’m writing this blog to try to help you support your own child.
Signs of trauma:
Trauma comes from the immense hurt, grief and pain that a young person is holding onto from a certain distressing situation and is finding it difficult to move on. Each young person will cope with challenging life events differently, and what will traumatise one, will not have the same...
It is distressing enough to think about your child self-harming, but what about the extra worry that it could get worse and your child could be considering suicide?
Many parents are deeply concerned about this, especially when they hear the facts that young people with a history of self-harm are:
The truth is, only a small proportion of young people who self-harm become suicidal. The majority of them say that they have never considered suicide (60%).
What’s the BIG difference between self-harm and suicide?
Although self-harm can seem like it is directly linked to suicide, they are very different. Self-harm is a way to cope with life, compared to suicide which is a way to end it. The thinking involved is often very different because self-harm can be a way to help manage life and keep going, which is the opposite intention to suicide. Also, for some children and teens, the pain...
Supporting a child or teen who self-harms, will be one of the most stressful and difficult times of your life. But you have to be careful about showing your child how upset and worried you are. You see, there will be many times when they’ll trigger a strong knee-jerk reaction from you, but it’s often advisable to hide this. Your unrestrained reaction can be unhelpful, as it reveals all the strong anxieties and worries you have inside. What they actually need to see in you is a strong, stable, loving parent, that they can rely on during this tumultuous time in their life. Even if it’s just a front!
So in our experience, knowing what NOT TO SAY at times you feel triggered and upset is really important to work out in advance.
Here are 5 things NOT to say to your self-harming child:
#1 Please don’t do it again today
This statement can come from a place of love and wanting to protect your child. That’s totally understandable. But pressuring...