At no time in our history have our children been bombarded with as many distractions, fears, anxieties, and mixed messages than now. Parents can be overwhelmed with the multitude of issues that are involved with raising children like keeping them physically healthy and encouraging good learning habits. Added to those tasks, a parent must also focus on prioritizing their child’s mental health and wellness. In today’s world that can seem an insurmountable task, but it can be accomplished with the right tools.
Keeping Our Children Safe
All parents hope to raise happy and well adjusted teens who are physically active and enjoy social activities. Unfortunately, life can get in the way. No matter your generation, parents have always sought to keep their children safe from harm. When they are young, you teach them how to cross the street, discretion about talking to strangers, how to recognize danger, and what to do about it. When they have the sniffles, you care for them. When they are sad or frightened, you hug them and tell them all will be fine.
As children grow older, danger can come from invisible and sometimes unlikely sources, so parents must be observant and diligent. Kids can keep a lot hidden from their parents.
Some of the Issues Our Youth Face Today
Bullying at School
Children and teens are likely to keep this to themselves. Sometimes it comes even from their so-called friends. Being told that they aren’t attractive enough, they are overweight, they have a disability of some kind (even a minor one), or they struggle with athletics are but some of the negative bullying jabs thrown at kids today. This type of bullying can occur physically or verbally.
This is even more insidious. One can say almost anything under the cover of a smartphone or computer. It can destroy your child’s body image and self worth with text messages and photos.
Anxiety and Stress
No one is exactly sure why our children today are so stressed. Competing for good grades at school, worrying about their family situation, success at extracurricular activities, and even problems with their love life can all contribute significantly to their stress level. All of these factors begin to add up and eventually can lead to anxiety disorders in many adolescents.
The Results and Telltale Signs
Eating disorders and substance abuse are serious mental health problems that seem to be growing among young adults.
Depression is a serious result of these contemporary stresses and goes far beyond simple hormonal changes that we assume teens to be dealing with. Peer pressure, academic expectations, and loss of self-worth from bullying can all contribute to a young person becoming depressed.
Rising suicide rates in young people is another tragic result of our contemporary culture. Parents should look out for the following telltale signs in their kids to know when to offer their support:
- Reluctance to go to school
- Cutting, and hurting oneself evidenced by only wearing long sleeves
- Sudden drop in grades
- Loss of interest in their favorite activities
- Eating disorders that can result in quickly gaining weight or losing weight
- Talk of suicide or feelings of unworthiness
- Inordinate amount of sleeping or insomnia
- Use of alcohol and drugs
- Less interest in personal hygiene
How Parents Can Intervene and Help
The first solution to these problems is awareness. Look for signs that something is not right, that your child’s personality has changed, or that they have lost interest in life and socializing.
Listen to what your tween or teen is saying, be open to back and forth communication without recrimination or negative responses. Avoid lectures and stay calm.
If you feel like your child or teen is in immediate risk, seek professional help at your local Emergency Room. If they struggle with suicidal thoughts or self-harm, you can also reach out to the National Suicide Lifeline on ideas on how to best support them or get them connected to help.
If you need further professional help, seek out the advice of Pediatric Associates, Inc.. Your physician can direct you to health care professionals that can advise you and treat your child.
The serious health care issues like depression will not go away on their own. Do not ignore warning signs or be wary of what other people will think. If your child needs help, search out the best care for them. Prioritizing your child’s mental health and wellness is of utmost importance.