With so much focus on anxiety and depression, what actually makes a teenager happy? You know that loving your child is one of the basic things you can do to keep her mood stable, help maintain positivity, and be successful in life and relationships. But is love enough?
Let’s explore 9 different ways that you can help boost your teen’s happiness and decrease the likelihood she will experience depression.
1.Focus on serenity over perfection.
If you have a high functioning, high performance kid, she probably has high standards for herself. Oftentimes this perfectionism can derail her happiness because the constant standards she sets for herself will never be enough. Tell her it’s OK to make mistakes and to “go with the roll”, so the speak. Let her know it’s perfectly fine to let go and not feel like she has to control everything.
2.Teach your child to pay attention to what she needs
It’s important that your teen doesn’t lose her way in the world by being over focused on doing what others want for her. Teaching her to say no is an important lesson. Whether it’s no to drugs or sex, or for trying out for the school choir in place of the basketball, teach your child it’s ok for her to make her own decisions based off of what she wants and needs.
3. Inspire her to be herself
In a world where everybody is trying to look like everybody else, encourage your teen to find her identity. Exploration into identity is huge at this phase. While it’s common for your teen to act like everybody else, encourage her to always remain true to herself in the end.
4. Highlight the present moment
Teens are infamous for dwelling on the past and cultivating resentment to use against you, their friends, and ultimately, themselves. Encourage a “mindful mindset.” Help your child to stay focused on what’s present, wonderful and beautiful in the world. This can help with mood stability and relationship skills. Prayer and/or meditation can be helpful.
5. Encourage a strong support system
Help your child to develop positive healthy friendships with peers, and healthy relationships with important adults in her life such as coaches and teachers. This strengthens her relationship skills, and increases her capacity for empathy toward others. And if she’s having challenges in her life, it helps her be resourceful with finding people who could help.
6. Help her develop her courage
Whatever her fears, instill in your child a sense of courage, which is the ability to trust herself and her inner thoughts. Think of it as helping her to rely on her inner compass instead of looking to others for what to do. This is especially important in adolescence when peer pressure is huge. Teach your child she doesn’t have to follow the crowd!
7. Cultivate coping skills for setbacks and limitations
Your teen will face limitations, rejections, and “No’s” throughout her adolescence and into her adulthood. Help her to accept them with grace, to not take them personally, and to persevere onward in the face of adversity.
8. Instill a broader worldview
Teens are notorious for being self-focused. While this is natural and even helpful at times, it’s always helpful for her to be introduced to perspectives that she doesn’t normally encounter in her day-to-day life. Encourage volunteer work, or something where she is part of a project bigger than herself.
9. Show her healthy conflict resolution
There is no skill more relevant to a teen that developing healthy self-assertive language in the face of a challenging peer situation. Additionally, teens will from time to time need to discuss their needs and feelings with coaches, teachers, and hey, even you! If your teen tends to argue or explode, teach her to resolve conflict peacefully.
On the flip side, if your teen is conflict avoidant, teach her to assertively address her needs instead of shying away from them.
Bottom Line: Love can be shown to your child in a number of different ways. Try one or all of the nine ways above to see the difference in your child’s mood or anxiety. If your child continues to struggle with anxiety, depression, low self-esteem, don’t hesitate to reach out for help.
Jenmarie Eadie is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker who is passionate about helping children to become less stressed by giving them and their parents tools, support and encouragement. She received her Master’s in Social Work from Arizona State with a dual concentration in Children, Youth, and Families; and Behavioral Health. Her proudest accomplishment is following her dream of opening up a practice that is designed to focus on the whole family. She currently serves families in Southern California.