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Archive for May, 2013

What to Do When Your Teen Gets Her First Broken Heart

Sunday, May 12th, 2013

There’s no love quite like the first love; unfortunately, the first love also tends to be among the most painful when things inevitably end. While your teen may be walking through the house with a permanent smile on her face and visions of forever in her mind, you know that it’s likely just a matter of time before the bloom falls from the rose and real life sets in. Helping your teen navigate the painful and complicated world of surviving her first heartbreak isn’t easy, but it’s something that every parent will inevitably have to help with along the way. Handling the situation badly can be actively damaging to your own relationship with your teenager, so be sure that you have a basic idea of how to proceed in order to help her recover without sacrificing the harmony in your home.

Be Supportive, Not Smothering

Your teen needs to know that you’re there for her when she needs you, but she’ll also need to deal with the trauma and pain of her first real break-up in her own way. That may mean hours on the phone with her friends dissecting what went wrong and exploring the natural journey of grief, or it could mean throwing herself into extracurricular activities in a bid to fill up all of her free time. Provided that she doesn’t resort to risky or dangerous behavior as a means of soothing the pains of her broken heart, it’s wise to let her set the pace. Make sure that you’re available when she asks for help, but that you don’t smother her or foist unsolicited advice on her every time she comes into the room.

Avoid Using Language That Minimizes Her Experience

As a parent who’s watching a child suffer, your first instinct may be to downplay the importance of the event in hopes that she’ll realize how inconsequential a high-school break up is. Before minimizing her pain and implying that her feelings of grief are exaggerated or melodramatic, think back to your first experience with heartbreak. While you certainly know now that it wasn’t the end of the world, that doesn’t mean it didn’t feel that way at the time. It’s entirely possible to offer reassurance and support without minimizing the experience, and almost always the most effective method.

Don’t Bash The Ex

When someone hurts your child, no matter how old she is, it’s human nature to think less of them. If you weren’t wild about your teen’s partner before the break-up, it’s even easier to resort to bashing and dismissive language. Keep in mind, however, that high school romances have a way of resurfacing. Even if your teenager swears that she’s calling off a relationship for good, there’s a decent chance that reconciliation will bring that ex back into the fold at some point. If you’ve vocally expressed your distaste for her partner or confessed to never caring much for them in the first place, that reunion might be a tense one for everyone involved. Focus on building your child back up and helping her to recover, rather than tearing down the party that you feel is responsible for her pain.

Be Prepared for a Relapse

Teenagers tend to possess fairly mercurial dispositions, so your teen may seem to be over the worst of her mourning and on the road to recovery when a massive relapse forces her back to square one. The best way to deal with such an abrupt loss of progress is to be prepared for it from the beginning. Hope for the best, but realize that the first sighting of an ex with a new flame can be enough to restart a teenage girl’s grieving process altogether.

Offer Distractions, Not a Lecture

You can give your teen an “I told you so” lecture, reminding her of your warnings about getting too close to a teenage partner or shaming her for choices that she made over the course of her relationship, but it will do absolutely no good. In fact, it’s more likely to push her away and make her uncomfortable with the idea of approaching you in the future. After all, who wants to approach someone for help during a painful time when the only help they’ll get is a sound scolding? Even if you have a particular bone to pick with your teen, the days immediately following a breakup might not be the appropriate time to address the situation.

Familiarize Yourself With the Signs of Depression

To you, the end of a high school romance may seem like little more than a blip on the radar. To your teen, however, that break-up is the radar. While it’s certainly not true that every teen who goes through a breakup will feel like it’s the end of the world, some take such things harder than others. Teens that are already prone to depression or who are at risk can begin to suffer from the condition in the aftermath of a particularly messy break-up, so be sure that you’re apprised of the risks and understand how to spot the signs of teenage depression.

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10 Common Causes for Teenage Depression

Monday, May 6th, 2013

Adolescence can be a very turbulent and difficult time, even for the most well-adjusted child. Depression strikes teenagers and adults alike, and can have far-reaching implications when kids suffer from emotional difficulties that they aren’t sure how to manage. After noticing the signs of depression in your teen and helping him to get the treatment he needs, understanding the root of his depression can help to make the situation more manageable for everyone involved. While this is by no means a comprehensive list of all causes of teen depression, these ten situations can be very common contributing factors to depression.

  1. Academic Stress – Kids are under an enormous amount of pressure to succeed academically, especially as the costs of higher education rise and more families are reliant upon scholarships to help offset the expense. Stressing over classes, grades and tests can cause kids to become depressed, especially if they’re expected to excel at all costs or are beginning to struggle with their course load.
  2. Social Anxiety or Peer Pressure – During adolescence, teenagers are learning how to navigate the complex and unsettling world of social interaction in new and complicated ways. Popularity is important to most teens, and a lack of it can be very upsetting. The appearance of peer pressure to try illicit drugs, drinking or other experimental behavior can also be traumatic for kids that aren’t eager to give in, but are afraid of damaging their reputation through refusal.
  3. Romantic Problems – When kids become teenagers and enter adolescence, romantic entanglements become a much more prominent and influential part of their lives. From breakups to unrequited affection, there are a plethora of ways in which their budding love lives can cause teens to become depressed.
  4. Traumatic Events – The death of a loved one, instances of abuse or other traumatic events can have a very real impact on kids, causing them to become depressed or overly anxious. In the aftermath of a trauma, it’s wise to keep an eye out for any changes in behavior or signs of depression in your teen.
  5. Separating or Divorcing Parents – Divorced or separated parents might be more common for today’s teens than it was in generations past, but that doesn’t mean that the situation has no effect on their emotional wellbeing. The dissolution of the family unit or even the divorce of a parent and step-parent can be very upsetting for teens, often leading to depression.
  6. Heredity – Some kids are genetically predisposed to suffer from depression. If a parent or close relative has issues with depression, your child may simply be suffering from a cruel trick of heredity that makes him more susceptible.
  7. Family Financial Struggles – Your teenager may not be a breadwinner in your household or responsible for balancing the budget, but that doesn’t mean that she’s unaffected by a precarious financial situation within the family. Knowing that money is tight can be a very upsetting situation for teens, especially if they’re worried about the possibility of losing their home or the standard of living they’re accustomed to.
  8. Physical or Emotional Neglect – Though they may seem like fiercely independent beings that want or need nothing from their parents, teenagers still have emotional and physical needs for attention. The lack of parental attention on either level can lead to feelings of depression.
  9. Low Self-Esteem – Being a teenager isn’t easy on the self-esteem. From a changing body to the appearance of pimples, it can seem as if Mother Nature herself is conspiring against an adolescent to negatively affect her level of self-confidence. When the self-esteem level drops below a certain point, it’s not uncommon for teens to become depressed.
  10. Feelings of Helplessness – Knowing that he’s going to be affected on a personal level by things he has no control over can easily throw your teen into the downward spiral of depression. Feelings of helplessness and powerlessness often go hand in hand with the struggle with depression, and can make the existing condition even more severe.

It’s important that you speak to a medical professional or your teen’s doctor about any concerns you have regarding his emotional wellbeing, especially if you suspect that he’s suffering from depression. Depression is a very real affliction that requires treatment, and is not something that should be addressed without the assistance of a doctor. Your general practitioner or pediatrician should be able to help you determine the best course of action if your child is suffering from depression, including referrals to a specialist or medication.

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