How to Support Your Teenager Through A breakup
When kids are little, it’s easier to take their pain away but as they become teenagers, it’s a whole different deal. Helping your teenager through a break up requires sensitivity. Especially with older teens, it’s important to treat their pain with respect.
Because this is probably their first heartbreak, avoid making light of it. Even well intentioned jokes can hurt. Make an effort to be supportive to their feelings just as you would with a dear friend.
Your main goal as a parent is to monitor your teenager’s emotional reactions while giving them room to experience their own pain. You don’t need to be a professional here but you know when they’re off so trust your gut. When you’re unsure, ask someone who knows them well for feedback.
What To Do First
Recognize when your teenager wants to talk and when they don’t. The signs are usually obvious like slamming the bedroom door or giving “that look” that they want to be left alone.
Pay close attention to when they do want to connect. It may be very subtle like coming out of their room and just hanging around. Because teens are still trying to understand the impact of their emotions, they may not verbalize what they need.
When showing support convey a neutral attitude. Teenagers feel more comfortable sharing when there is no hint of judgment or stern advice. Both of these will cause them to retreat. The more neutral you are about their situation, the more likely your teen will feel comfortable confiding in you.
Tips for How You Can Help
By nature, teenagers can be sensitive so any mis-step or minimizing their feelings could damage their trust with you. Take responsibility for any behavior that was less than supportive. By acknowledging past mistakes, you can repair past hurts and rebuild trust. Plus, it’s great role-modeling.
Strive to be a sounding board for them but don’t give a lot of advice. They need to learn how to cope with relationship challenges.
A few things you should be encouraging;
Remind them to practice good self-care like maintaining good eating and sleeping habits.
Stay connected to their support system and make time for having fun.
Feel all the feelings associated with the breakup.
Assessing A Potential Crisis
There are times when a breakup will trigger an emotional crisis. Teenagers don’t have the maturity to understand that this too shall pass. Don’t expect them to act like adults just because they are big. You might need to take action if they start showing signs of serious depression.
Some common signs to look for include:
Isolating from family and friends
Prolonged feelings of worthlessness
Significant changes in eating or sleeping
Any references to self-harming behaviors or suicidal behavior
Difficulty functioning at school or at home
Unable to enjoy hobbies or interests that used to love
If your teenagers are experiencing any of these signs, consider contacting a professional therapist.
When your child is struggling with a break up, stay close while still respecting their privacy. Use it as a teaching moment that painful experiences contain valuable life lessons. Help them develop better coping skills like reaching out and practicing good self-care.
When teenagers can learn from their mistakes it fosters an emotional intelligence that will last a lifetime. Being able to look at both the positive and negative aspects of their behavior will help them grow into healthy, accountable people.
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