21 July 2023

Teens and risky behaviour

Teenagers’ interest in new experiences is natural and a key part of what helps them grow. By pushing boundaries, teens develop independence and become increasingly self-reliant. But sometimes teenagers can take risks that put their safety and those around them in danger.  It can be a worrisome time for parents, but it’s important to remember that…, Why are teens drawn to risky behaviours?, Dr. Damour: Teens are driven to seek out new and exciting experiences. Some of this is neurological – their brains are highly sensitized to the excitement that comes with experiences that feel rewarding and that can cause them to seek out thrills more than children and adults do.  Teens’ drive for greater independence can mean that they will push…, How do teens think about risks?  , Dr. Damour: How teens reason about risk can be shaped by the contexts in which they find themselves. When teens are with adults or in situations that are not emotionally intense, they tend to reason very carefully about risk-taking behaviour. But when they are with their friends in socially or in emotionally charged situations, then they are less…, How can parents help keep teens safe? , Dr. Damour: The first thing parents and caregivers can do to help keen teens safe is to provide reasonable levels of supervision as we know that it can reduce the likelihood of dangerous risk-taking in teenagers.   The second thing parents should do is offer themselves as a partner in their teenager’s safety. Remember, prioritizing safety is…, When should parents worry about risk-taking behaviour? , Dr. Damour: Risk taking is most concerning when teenagers engage in high-risk behaviours that can have the potential for lasting consequences, such as experimenting with drugs, alcohol, smoking, unprotected sex or reckless physical behaviour.  It's time to worry if your teenager is engaging in risks that could have lasting consequences, such as…, What can I do if I’m worried my teen is endangering themself?   , Dr. Damour: Parents and caregivers who are worried about their teenagers’ risky behaviour should express their concerns directly to the young person. Consider saying: “You need to be safe. If you are unable to keep yourself safe, it becomes my job to keep you safe, which may mean that you enjoy less freedom.”   The adult can then have a…, When should parents seek professional help? , It's time to seek help from a mental health professional when teenagers routinely engage in worrisome or dangerous behaviours – such as high-risk substance use, persistent recklessness, self-harm, or violence towards others – and the efforts you are making to help them take better care of themselves are not working.   Sometimes teenagers will be…
21 December 2022

Four things you can do to support your teen’s mental health

Whether you and your teen are getting along well or having challenges, it is important to show that you love and support them, that you can help them navigate tough times and that you are always there for them. Here are four things to keep in mind when having that ‘how-are-you-doing?’ conversation with your teen and to show that you are always…, 1. Encourage them to share their feelings, Look for ways to check in with your teen. Ask them how their day has been and what they have been doing. It could be by inviting them to join you in a task, such as preparing dinner, so you can use the time to chat about their day. Remind them that you are there for them, no matter what, and that you want to hear how they are feeling and what they…, 2. Take the time to support them, Work together on setting up new routines and achievable daily goals. You could fit in home chores around school work or set a target like getting homework done before dinner. Adolescence means independence! Try to give your teen the appropriate time and space to be on their own. Needing space is a normal part of growing up. Find a few ways you can…, 3. Work through conflict together, Listen to your teen’s views and try to sort out conflict calmly. Remember: everyone gets stressed! Never discuss an issue while you are angry. Walk away, take a breath and calm down — you can talk with your teen about it later. Avoid power struggles. With the world feeling unpredictable and options looking limited right now, teens might be…, 4. Care for yourself, Caregivers have a lot to deal with. You also need care and support for yourself. Showing self-care is also a good way of modelling the practice to your teen. Don’t wait to ask others for help if you are feeling overwhelmed. It is normal and okay to feel this way. Find a family member or someone you can talk to. Make time for your own relationships…
05 March 2022

How to support your teen during stressful times

Whether you and your teen are getting along well or having challenges, it is important to show that you love and support them and remind yourselves how much you love each other. Here are some tips for helping your child navigate tough times – while taking care of yourself!  , Encourage your teen to share their feelings, Find ways to check in with your teen. Ask them how their day has been and what they have been doing. It could be by inviting them to join you in a task, such as cooking dinner, so you can use the time to chat about their day. Remind your teen that you are there for them, no matter what, and that you want to hear how they are feeling and what they…, Take time to support your teen, Work together on setting up new routines and setting achievable, daily goals as your circumstances may change with the changing context. Adolescence means independence! Try to give your teen the appropriate time and space to be on their own and take on more responsibility. Needing space is a normal part of growing up. Find a few ways you can…, Work through conflict between you and your teen, Listen to your teens’ views and try to sort out problems between you and your teen calmly. Remember: everyone can be stressed! Never discuss an issue while you are angry. Walk away, take a breath and calm down – you can talk with your teen about it later. Avoid power struggles. With the world feeling unpredictable right now, teens might be…, Take time to care for yourself, Caregivers have a lot to deal with. You also need care and support for yourself. Practicing self-care is also a good way of modelling self-care to your teen. Don’t wait too long to ask others for help if you are feeling overwhelmed. It is normal and okay to feel this way. Find a family member or someone you can talk with. Make time for your own…