(Editor’s note: Melissa has some wisdom to share about teens and depression. Now that we’re in the teen years, no I don’t think you can avoid the angst. But these strategies are excellent for helping stave off the worst and helping the whole phase pass more smoothly. Thanks, Melissa!)
It’s every parent’s nightmare—teen depression. Sometimes it’s hard to remember what it was like as a teen. There’s a lot going on in their minds, and they don’t quite have the tools to cope with it all yet. That’s a big load for young shoulders to carry. As a parent, I worry about that a lot.
My own two children aren’t quite at that age yet, and I look at their bright, energetic, happy faces and struggle to imagine them ever being moody, petulant and full of angst. I know it’s coming though. What I didn’t know is if it could be avoided.
Wouldn’t we all like the magic solution that can help us circumnavigate the troubled teen years? Well, there may not be a full-on solution, but there are ways to help.
Exercise Troubles Away
There are so many reasons regular exercise is good for everybody in the family, but it can really help teens going through difficult emotional times. Schwinn exercise bikes are a great addition to the home, and let everyone enjoy the benefits of regular daily exercise no matter what the weather is outside.
Exercise releases powerful endorphins that are the body’s natural opiate. That’s right, no need for those expensive, dangerous and illegal drugs. Let your teen in on the secret to real happiness. The type of drug they can use safely and get anytime they need it: exercise.
Foster Friendships Early On
Teach your children how to pick their friends and maintain strong relationships with them from a very early age. The better they are at developing friendships when they reach those troubled teen years, the more peer support they will have that is positive and healthy to help them through it. As much as we’d like to be the only influences in our children’s lives, that just isn’t realistic. What is realistic is setting them up with the skills to pick the influences that will nurture them instead of instigate negative actions.
Get them Talking
Perhaps one of the hardest things for parents to deal with is the sudden silence of their teens. What was once a close and chatty relationship all of a sudden seems to stop, and teens become closed off. Keep the lines of communication as open as possible, and at the very least, always let them know you are willing and waiting to talk to them, without judgment (very important) about anything they are upset about, or need to work through.
Recognizing the Dangers Signals
While it may seem that teen depression strikes out of nowhere, it seldom really does. Usually there are warning signs that trouble is brewing under the surface of your once cheerful child. It’s important to remember that not every act of rebellion is a sign of deeper problems. All teens go through some form of mood swings, rebellion and sadness. It’s a natural process of transitioning from total dependence to adult sufficiency.
Some of the danger signs of teen depression are:
- Feelings of hopelessness
- Excessive and consistent anger, hostility or irritability
- Over emotional crying or tearfulness
- Losing interest in normally favored activities and hobbies
- Changes in sleeping patterns
- Changes in eating
- Feeling worthless
- Inability to concentrate
- Talk of death or suicide
Whatever you do, make sure you never give up. If it means buying a Horizon Fitness ex-59 elliptical trainer that they are interested in, or learning to love the latest rap singer they’re “all about.” Keep working at your relationship with your teens. As long as you do, they’ll grow out of it, and the teen years will be a much happier memory for everyone involved.
About the Author: As a freelance writer, Melissa Cameron spends a lot of time researching parenting topics, as well as local history and other subjects she enjoys sharing with her readers. These topics all hit home in her role as mother and wife to a husband and two children in Austin, Texas where she spends her time enjoying the thrills of a large extended family that lives nearby.
Earnest Parenting: advice for parents who want to help their teens.
Image courtesy of petit hiboux via Creative Commons license, some rights reserved.