Growing up isn’t easy. Young people today face a number of pressures to succeed, compete, and conform. School, extra-curricular activities, and family can all impact a young person’s mental health and sense of well-being if goals, expectations, and problems start to seem too big.
Every young person, regardless of the neighbourhood they live in, the friends they have, the family they come from, or the school they go to will experience challenges and uncertainties as they grow.
We can all benefit from having supportive people in our lives, but asking for help isn’t always easy.
There are a number of reasons a young person might not seek help, such as:
- Feeling that reaching out might not make a difference, or that there is no way to solve their problem
- Believing that they need to deal with a problem alone
- Fear of judgement or shame, or that they will be labeled
- Fear of not being heard
- Believing that no one really cares
100% of kids at some time will experience the challenges of everyday life and the first experiences that come with growing up.
How can parents help young people cope with the pressures they face today and encourage them to reach out for help if and when they need to?
Here are some tips for supporting your children:
- Help kids recognize first experiences. When kids are growing up, many changes and challenges can seem difficult because they have nothing to compare them to. Draw examples of times they had to adapt to something new – the experience doesn’t have to relate to what they are currently going through, as long as it helps them see that they have the skills and resources to move forward.
- Lighten the load. If a young person is experiencing a lot of stress or pressure, cutting back on the number of commitments or responsibilities might be an option they want to explore. Sometimes, kids worry they are letting their parents down if they quit a sport or other activity, and that might stop them from reaching out when they feel overwhelmed.
- Be open with your kids. Encourage them to talk to you, and when they do, be present. Turn off your phone or other devices, be present, and be ready to listen. Try not to get defensive or angry if they tell you something you don’t like. Think about how you would want someone to react if you were trying to open up to them.
- Be hopeful. Show your kid you believe in them. Remember, an adult’s own perspective reflects back on the young people in their lives. When you believe in kids, it helps them to believe in themselves.
- Take a step back. Help young people to see the choices that they have, and then let them make the decision on which steps they want to take. This gives young people the opportunity to take control of their own situation while still being supported.
- Do something fun together. It’s important to help kids find ways to unwind, no matter what they’re going through. A DIY spa day at home, have a movie night, do a craft together, bake something yummy, or going for a walk or a bike ride are all ways you can encourage self-care at home.
Thank you to KidsHelpPhone.ca for providing this useful information for parents!