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Are social problems a problem for your teen? Ways to improve your teen’s mental health

Have you noticed a level of anxiety about school, friends, dating, or even some of life’s most basic issues in your teen? Does your teen regularly doubt himself? Is your teen struggling to get homework or chores done on time? Have you noticed your teen being mopey or procrastinating? Does your child feel insecure? Teenagers are more susceptible to social challenges than adults because their brains are still developing and their bodies are changing rapidly. What we might consider “teen issues” can affect the emotional and physical health of these adolescents.

The teenage years, or adolescence, are a time of tremendous change. From being focused on school, playing and getting the approval of their friends and parents, children at this age develop a deep desire for independence as they become young adults. Their bodies are undergoing rapid changes and they are also developing emotionally and cognitively. These changes bring unique challenges, such as emotional and behavioral disorders, eating disorders, and risky behaviors.

“Children are naturally programmed to grow and thrive. As parents, we must facilitate this growth by being attuned to their emotional needs and sensitive to behavioral changes in them. Most importantly, we need to be attentive to them and provide emotional support as they navigate this challenging phase of their lives,” said Prakriti Poddar, Global Head, Mental Health and Wellbeing, RoundGlass, a global holistic wellness company.

A child’s mental well-being is just as crucial as their physical well-being, especially when it comes to coping with stress, behavior, and academic performance. “You can keep your child as mentally healthy as possible by taking certain measures. The quality of your relationship with your child, along with your love and support, can have a significant positive impact on their mental health. It may even lower your child’s risk of developing mental health problems,” says Dr. Himanshu Nirvan, MBBS, MD (psychiatry), Noida International Institute of Medical Sciences (NIIMS).

Express your love, affection, and care for your children in ways that your child enjoys. “For example, your child may enjoy hugs, smiles, pats on the back, or spending quiet time with you. Show that you are interested in what your child is doing. Honor your child’s efforts and all his achievements. Please respect your child’s views and thoughts,” adds Dr Nirvan.

Introducing children to holistic wellness practices and habits—mindfulness, exercise, healthy eating, expressing gratitude, nurturing empathy—will help them cope with the stresses of their lives. Poddar shares some simple ways parents and other adults can take care of teen mental health and well-being:

Encourage them to communicate: This is the most important thing when it comes to improving your teenage child’s well-being. Be mindful of what they tell you. Listen to their problems and struggles and let them know you are always there for them.

Give them space: All teens want to be independent! Give them time and space to be themselves. Work with them to find solutions to their problems and avoid telling them what to do or taking over their duties.

Be authentic: It helps to be honest with them if you are worried about them. Tell them you are concerned about their well-being and want to talk about it.

Introduce them to meditation and mindfulness: A daily practice will help reduce their stress and anxiety, make them less reactive and improve their decision making. By being mindful, they become more self-aware and confident in their own skin.

Inspire them to eat healthy: There is a deep connection between nutrition and well-being. So encourage them to eat plenty of healthy fruits and vegetables to optimize their nutrition.

Help them think for themselves: Give them the information to make responsible choices and decisions. Make them aware of the implications of their actions and decisions and reassure them that they can handle life’s challenges.

Motivate them to move: Healthy mind, healthy body, remember? The overuse and reliance on social media often make teens physically inactive. Inspire them to exercise daily or follow an active lifestyle to achieve better mental well-being.

In addition, it is equally important for parents to take care of their mental health and well-being. Practice meditation, walk outside, cook a healthy meal or read a book. Take time for yourself and do things that bring you joy and make you a happier, more aware individual and parent.

Enjoy your time together as a family and one-on-one with your child. Ask your child to discuss his or her feelings with you. Your child needs to understand that he doesn’t have to face life’s challenges alone. Together you can prevent things from getting worse as you work to solve problems. If you have any concerns, discuss them with trusted relatives, friends, parents, or teachers. If you think you need more help, talk to your doctor.

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