It’s a difficult time to be a teenager or young adult. Forced into multiple adult decisions, many critical, all in a short window, while the brain remains immature. Adolescents are just beginning to discover themselves: who they are, what/who they like, and what/who they don’t like. Peer approval and acceptance becomes the prime directive; anything that gets in the way becomes a severe allergen or enemy. Because this period is stacked with stress and because the stakes seem so high, all teens are at risk for depression.
As tempting as it is, we cannot blame depression on Facebook and other social media channels. Parents must take some responsibility for the levels of depression and anxiety current teens and young adults experience. We all know it’s not easy being a teen or young adult, but it is easier if you develop the skills to pass through this stressful phase relatively unscathed.
To the average American, teen life looks very different. “Today’s teens and young adults learn that life should be incredibly easy and bring amazing success with no stress”, writes Dr. Jeffery Smith, psychiatrist, and author. Coping skills are essential for abiding, quality mental health.
Resilience and acceptance are both learned, since no one is born with these traits. Parents are the primary teachers, and in this technological era, the focus of what we teach our kids must shift appropriately. Dr. Smith explains that parents must learn when not to rescue their kids and let them figure things out, or, often enough, not figure things out. Letting them critically think for themselves will show them that not everything is tranquil or attainable (at least not right away) and that the drudgery of hard work and tough times may be needed to obtain dreams or goals.
It might be easy to spot youth who have a weak support system at home. Those who worry more than they should, stress out, and burn out early into the school year. The teens who are quickly overwhelmed and discouraged. These are the at-risk youth whose parents did not prepare them with the tools necessary to navigate successfully through the murky waters of adolescence. Do not be the parent that lets depression creep up on your kids.
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