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Tips for Talking with Your Teenager

The experts at Wellness Grove open the conversation and awareness about mental health to help our teens - together.

Article by Dr. Jessica Headley LPCC-S with Dr. Christina Woloch LPC, Paige McKinney LPC & Elizabeth Ertel LPC

Photography by Terry Fravel

Originally published in Canton Lifestyle

March 2nd is World Teen Mental Wellness Day, a day to raise awareness about teen mental health and to promote conversations about removing stigmas surrounding preventative mental health.

According to the World Health Organization, it is estimated that 1 in 7 teenagers world-wide experience mental health conditions such as anxiety, depression and behavioral issues. Many of these issues go unrecognized and untreated.

Counselors are a great community resource to prevent the development of mental health issues in your teen and be a trusted source of support when struggles do arise with self-esteem, school, relationships with peers and family. Mental health issues are no less important than physical health, and they are treatable.

A teen’s mental health is shaped by many factors, including relationships with family. Building a strong relationship with your teenager through healthy communication contributes to their mental health and wellness – and yours too. Here are three tips from counselors who work with teens and families:

Create a Safe Space for Emotions

It’s not easy for teens to open up – especially when they are dealing with hard things. Creating an open-door policy with your teen is a great way to help them navigate stressors and celebrate successes. It is important that your teen knows you are there to listen without judgement, and that you will take in what they have to say without offering immediate solutions. Teens are looking for more independence – try to be more of a collaborator, rather than a supervisor. Suggestions for creating a safe space include: having a parent-teen journal, creating a sign that symbolizes readiness to talk and having regular check-ins during meals.

Practice "I” Statements

Sometimes having a “formula” makes something easier. Teaching and modeling the use of “I” statements with your teen can help them express their thoughts and feelings, as well as their needs.

Here’s how it goes:

I feel [insert feeling word] because [insert explanation without directly blaming someone else]. I’m wondering if [insert potential solution to discuss].

And, here is an example:

I feel overwhelmed because when we talk about my grades I feel pressure to be perfect. I’m wondering if we can be less critical of my mistakes.

Make Talking Fun!

Create engaging activities that promote meaningful conversations. For example, fill a jar with different colored gummy bears. Work collaboratively with your teen to write down one question that corresponds with each color (for example, red gummy bear = “What was the best part of your day?”). Each day schedule time as a family to draw 3-4 gummy bears (per person) from the jar, respond to the questions, and have fun!

About Wellness Grove 

Wellness Grove is a private practice in Canton, Ohio that provides individual, couples, and family counseling sessions that can be attended in-person or remotely through telehealth. The diverse team of clinicians specializes in over 50 areas of mental health and wellness to include adolescent issues, family issues, academic issues, adjustment and life transitions, blended family, divorce, parenting, and communication and conflict.

Wellness Grove is located at 4200 Munson Street NW in Canton. The practice is open from 7am-9pm (Monday-Friday) and 9am-5pm (Saturday). For more information call 330-915-2907 or visit the website at