Start the Conversation
Helping kids learn to navigate the world comes in many forms. As a parent, you coach your young child on the skills needed to walk, talk, eat, and grow. As your child grows, new skills are needed to navigate increasing responsibility. As these and physical changes occur, many feelings and emotions arise. Teenage life is a whole new world for you and your child. This journey requires more advanced emotional skills that need to be taught, practiced, and reinforced. Improvement comes through disappointments and trying again. Together you can make this transition a healthier one.
Talking with your tween about social and emotional health can be hard. The more often you have these conversations, the more comfortable they become. The first conversation won’t be perfect; that’s ok. The important thing is the you keep trying; this is not a one-time conversation.
Not sure when to start? How about now? Parents find that having these conversations while driving, making dinner, or while doing something fun is a great way to start. Use examples from your child’s life such as books, movies, TV, or daily events, to continue the conversation.
You know your child best. When you notice something off about your child, that’s a good time to chat. You can use your child's life experiences, like a fight with friends or a less than stellar grade, to start a conversation. Talking about the situation, feelings, and responses from everyone involved provides an opportunity to learn and grow.
A trauma is any event that is deeply upsetting, scary, or harmful. We have all lived through a trauma in the past year dealing with Covid-19. Some children will be more impacted by this than others. After a trauma, the emotional effects can last a long time. It can be hard to move on because trauma affects a child’s sense of safety and trust.
There may be signs that your child may struggling, such as: unwanted thoughts or images, negative feelings, avoidance of reminders, problems with attention, being easily irritable or “on edge.”
There are things you can do as a parent to help your child process what has happened during this time and move forward.
Listen Attentively and Answer Questions
Do Something Fun
Practice Patience, Warmth, and Love
Limit Media Exposure
Consider Professional Help
Managing Anxiety and Stress
We have all just experienced a stressful experience that lasted for a long time. It’s normal to feel a mix of emotions, including exhaustion, uncertainty, or even joy to be nearing the end. Talk with your child about their feelings (generally and specifically) and about things impacting them.
Anxiety and anger are natural emotions that signal us to pay attention to adapt and protect ourselves. However, if they become overwhelming, it can be problematic. Here are some techniques to use to manage stress and anxiety. These are great for kids, tweens, and adults.
Identify and Name your Feelings
Use Calming Techniques
Notice the Good
Let Technology Work for You
Know When to Ask for Help
Below are links to other valuable resources that may be helpful for your and your family:
- AAP: Children & Media Tips
- American Psychological Association: Digital Guidelines- Promoting Health Technology Use for Children
- AACAP: Social Media & Teens
- CDC Guidance on Covid & Adolescents
- Healthy Children
- Seize the Awkward
- NAMI Utah
- Child Mind Institute
- Parent Guidance
- PBS Kids
- SelectHealth LiveWell
- Utah State Board of Education
- DSAMH Youth Programs
- Help Me Grow Utah