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5 Ways Parents Can Support Their Teen’s Mental Wellness

Adolescence is the time when your child starts to develop social and emotional habits that are important for mental well-being such as getting enough sleep; exercising regularly; developing coping, problem-solving, and interpersonal skills; and learning to manage emotions. Protective and supportive family and school environments are especially important at this age, and building relationships with friends provides a sense of connectedness, which is crucial to a teen’s mental well-being. Here are five ways you can support your teen’s mental wellness.

  1. Check in with your teen – Find a way to check in with your teen and build their confidence in you so they know that you are there for them and want to hear what they are thinking and feeling. You can do this through a shared daily task, a hobby, or just simple words of encouragement. When they do share, respond with compassion. Remember, you shouldn’t try to “fix” their feelings. 
  1. Actively listen – Truly listen to what your teen is saying, both in good times and more challenging times. Check your understanding of what you are hearing by reflecting back what you hear them say. By giving your teen your undivided attention, you are validating their thoughts and feelings and creating a safe place where they will instinctively return. 
  1. Celebrate them – It’s important to notice and celebrate your teen’s strengths. Even something that doesn’t seem like a big deal to you could be a real achievement for them, so your validation is critical. 
  1. Model and promote healthy lifestyle choices – Physical health significantly impacts mental well-being. Encourage your teen to prioritize healthy habits such as exercise, nutritious eating, and sufficient sleep. Model these behaviors yourself. 
  1. Cultivate resilience – Resilience is an important skill for teens to learn. Reframe challenges as opportunities for growth. Encourage your teen to look at failure as a learning opportunity and offer guidance on problem-solving and decision-making. 

Adolescence is a unique and formative time. Physical, emotional, and social changes can make teens especially vulnerable to mental health issues. If you are worried about your teen’s mental health, talk with their doctor. St. Luke’s Penn Foundation can also help.