ASK THE EX­PERT

I’M WOR­RIED ABOUT MY TEENAGER’S MEN­TAL HEALTH

South Wales Evening Post - - FAMILY HEALTH -

QMY 15-year-old daugh­ter used to be very happy and ef­fi­cient, but lately she seems like a typ­i­cal moody teenager and can’t seem to fo­cus or get en­thu­si­as­tic about any­thing. What can I do?

ASUE ROGERS, a men­tal health and emo­tional well­be­ing ex­pert at Ac­tion for Chil­dren, leads the Blues Pro­gramme, the first Uk-wide early help scheme for 15 to 18-year-olds in se­condary schools. The scheme is part of the char­ity’s Build Sound Minds cam­paign, which en­cour­ages pos­i­tive con­ver­sa­tion and good men­tal health.

Sue, right, says: “Make time to talk and lis­ten. Teenagers don’t al­ways want to talk, and it’s im­por­tant to re­spect her space. If she’s anx­ious, let her know you’re there if she needs you.

“Try to get into the habit of hav­ing chats about how things are go­ing in gen­eral. The more you talk and lis­ten, the sooner your daugh­ter will know she can come to you with prob­lems.

“Get her to spot neg­a­tive thoughts. If she’s strug­gling with low self-es­teem, see if she’s happy to tell you how things are go­ing in her life. You may have no­ticed her say­ing neg­a­tive things about her­self. Ask why she feels that way. Ex­plain that thoughts may not al­ways af­fect re­al­ity, but can af­fect our be­hav­iour. En­cour­age her to start notic­ing neg­a­tive think­ing pat­terns and ques­tion them.

“Help re­duce stress. En­cour­age her to set re­al­is­tic goals and ex­pec­ta­tions, and to see un­cer­tainty as part of life, rather than some­thing to worry about.

“No­tice what ac­tiv­i­ties she finds re­lax­ing, and use these to wind down. Ask her to re­mem­ber to value her­self also.

“If your daugh­ter’s feel­ing lonely, re­mind her it’s a feel­ing, re­lated to num­ber of friends or time spent so­cial­is­ing.

“Cel­e­brate her achieve­ments, too. Help her learn to take on re­spon­si­bil­i­ties and face fears.

“You can also sug­gest she takes a note of how so­cial me­dia us­age af­fects her mood. Could she fo­cus on sites that make her feel pos­i­tive about her­self?”

Make time to talk with your teen

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