5 Secrets to Happy Teens - Guest Post
What you can do NOW so your child is less likely to be a depressed teen.
A guest post by Maria Golding, Intuitive Motherhood.
I know many of you worry about how your child will 'turn out'. You ask questions like "What sort of teenager will my child be?" "What can I do NOW to prevent them from being one of those young people who are depressed, self-harming or even drug addicted!?"
You toss and turn at night worrying. You see signs of vulnerability. Maybe you notice your child is highly strung or is easily led astray. Maybe your child is shy or prone to having a mind of his own.
You worry. It’s totally understandable and totally normal. You don't want to see your children suffer. You'd do EVERYTHING in your parenting power to make sure your worst nightmare doesn't come true!
And YES it is a concern. Prof Patrick McGorry says that up to 50% of young people will experience some sort of mental illness prior to adulthood. That’s way too many!
Let me tell you about Claire.I worked with her in the hospital mental health unit just this Saturday. She's 17. She's in for self-harm and suicidal ideation. Her mood has been deteriorating for the last six months. The trigger... a breakup with her boyfriend.
She says she doesn't normally 'open up', but she did to me this night. It felt strange for her to have the tears rolling down her cheeks as she spoke of how she is normally "so strong", that she has to "be the rock" as her parents "need me to be". "You see my two brothers have special needs. I don't want to burden them with my worries too".
If I was to ask her parents I'm pretty sure they would have a different viewpoint. They would WANT Claire to come to them, to talk of her worries, to open up and lean on them for support. Adolescence is tough. Relationships and intimacy is the stuff that young people feel compelled towards, and at the same time deeply affected by.They are NOT meant to deal with all of this alone.
Yet Claire from a very young age felt that it wasn't ok to feel the vulnerable feelings. She learnt to hide them. So whenever she felt sad or hurt or scared, she shut down. She described to me how she would go inwards and 'shut down her feelings' and pretend that the things that were bothering her didn't matter. She would put on a "everythings ok" mask. This clearly got her through a number of years ...until now. It was all coming apart. She was unravelling.
I felt relieved that she had cracked her facade to be open with me. I KNEW this was to be part of her healing. I held her hand and let her know how much I admired her courage to let her vulnerability be seen and expressed, and that I could handle ALL her big feelings. I listened attentively as she revealed her experiences and secret thoughts of self-loathing, and as she silently wept. I stayed close. I let her know how important she was by the way I opened myself to feel how she would feel. I showed her in my face that I got her. I really really got her.
She took herself to her room afterwards refusing dinner. A little while later she emerged, and for the first time since her 3 day admission began engaging with another young person. Her mood was brighter. I could see that she had 'lightened up'.
I felt the shift. It was clear that she was having a new experience that would help her move forward. Yes, she would still need the psychiatric treatment and ongoing support, yet this small intervention had made a significant difference.
YOU SEE, IT DOESN'T TAKE MUCH!
So, what can YOU do now, to help your child prepare for this potentially tricky time ...adolescence?
1. First of all BE THE CHANGE ~ Most of what your children learn is by what you do and who you are. NOT so much what you say. Its important that you are real and open about your feelings. That you drop any facade that you've got it all together, and instead work on your own negative patterning and quest for happiness. Become the sort of person you want your child to be.
You want your children to know that its ok to makes mistakes. Its actually important - to learn how to manage relationships and life. Its human and normal. We just need to learn how to work through them. Everything is sort-out-able. Nothing is too bad that it can't be talked about or worked out.
They also need you to slow down and really deeply, consciously listen. Body, mind, emotions and spirit. Don't presume you know who they are. You may be surprised when you drop your expectations or presumptions, and really just BE WITH. Your child is a gorgeously unique being who may be quite different from what you expect.
Here are my other TOP TIPS for you to demonstrate for your children:
- Its ok to feel all emotions. There's no good or bad feelings as they are all normal and human and important.
- Its ok for to ask for what you need. Independence is over rated. We are inter-dependent beings. We need each other to survive and to be happy.
- Mirror back your child's emotions. Their highs as well as their lows. Be excited with them. Be sad with them. You can do this AND keep centred and not get 'taken out' by their stuff.
- Repair any wrongdoings/ mistakes/ ruptures you have with your child. This is VITAL. So often I hear of the misunderstandings and hurts that teens are carrying from their childhood. All they needed was "I hear you. I was wrong. I am sorry".
If you already have teenagers whom you think might be suffering, here's my suggestions
- Let them know that you notice and that you care about them.
- Ask them what they need. From you. From someone else?
- Then listen. Reeeeeeally listen. Allow space. Keep being there. Not intrusively. But instead as a bigger presence of love and strength. Give them the knowing that you are here for them, and that they can lean on you... unconditionally. Make it a partnership approach "what can WE do about your big feelings. Lets work this out together. I love you soooo much. You mean the world to me".
AND if you have a baby reconsider the 'cry it out' approach. You don't want to risk having unintended side-effects with your baby's sense of safety, security and trust. This could affect your gorgeous mama-bubba relationship right from the early days.
So get cracking on this stuff beautiful ones. You can have such BIG results by implementing small changes in your parenting. And it starts NOW, while they are little (although its never too late!).
If you need 1:1 help or you have any questions and comments, or want to get on Marias mailing list you can email her, she has some coaching spaces opening up soon. Drop her a line at this email address: email@example.com.
OR if you need more and want to go deeper and you're in Queensland you might like to go to her intro workshop.
Maria has ‘oodles of experience’. Over 25 amazing years of professionally supporting mothers, babies, children and teens. She’ll give you the simple tools to come back ‘home’ to your own inner wisdom so you can relax, enjoy and SHINE as the best version of yourself as a woman and mother. Using the latest in neuroscience she lovingly guides you to break through patterns that are holding you back, to parent consciously and playfully, and helps you to wire your child’s brain for authentic happiness, resilience and emotional intelligence.
Maria’s website is re-launching very soon! www.mariagolding.co