How to Talk to Your Teenager Without Arguing

You can talk to your teenager without arguing by fostering open communication, showing empathy, and avoiding judgment. Ask open-ended questions that encourage conversation rather than confrontation. Listening actively without interruption and validating their feelings can also create a respectful dialogue, nurturing understanding rather than fostering arguments.

Communicating with teenagers can often lead to misunderstandings and arguments, making it difficult for parents to connect and provide support.

The frustration from repeated arguments can strain the parent-teen relationship, lead to a breakdown in trust, and hinder the teen’s emotional development.

To talk to your teenager without arguing, establish clear communication guidelines, show empathy towards their feelings, ask open-ended questions, and ensure you’re both working towards understanding each other rather than winning a debate. By creating a safe and respectful environment for discussion, you’ll foster a more positive and constructive relationship.

In this article, you will discover several tips on how to talk to your teenager without arguing.

Tips on How to Talk to Your Teenager Without Arguing

Teen communication can be difficult. Not only is there a generational gap to account for, but the goals of teens and parents rarely overlap. 

The first lesson is not to stoop low. When teens get angry, don’t get angry with them. A conversation shouldn’t be a shouting match, and the moment it becomes one, it’s probably time to step away. From there, examine your communication style with your teen, and where you might be able to make some solid improvements: 

Here are some tips on how to talk to your teenager without arguing:

Setting the Right Tone for the Conversation

Setting the tone from the start of the conversation is important. Be positive with your initial statement or question. Teens get defensive immediately when they can sense passive aggressiveness or an aggressive-inquisitive tone. 

You’re not here to investigate or play the part of a cop – you’re a parent, and you want to foster open and healthy communication skills with your teen. Use indirect questions, rather than demanding your information. 

A Matter of Time and Place

Observe your teen’s emotional state before striking up an important or difficult conversation. You’re not likely to get much out of your teen if they’re feeling anxious or angry to begin with. You’re better off if you preface an important conversation with a fun Sunday activity; a drive out to the mall for some ice cream, a few hours at the arcade, or time spent out fishing. It’s always better to start things off on a positive baseline, especially when a topic can be distressing or uncomfortable, such as drugs or sex. 

Problem-Solving With Your Teen

With is the operative word. It’s not very helpful to just talk down on your teen when they come to you with a problem. It’s often a lot more effective when you try to solve a problem with them, by asking more questions and offering constructive words of advice or personal experience in between their responses. Interruptions are bad

Identifying (and Avoiding) Blame and Judgment

It’s important to talk to your teen without the overture of judgment. Yes, you’re older, you’re wiser, and you’ve seen more things, done more things, and generally have a better idea of what’s in store for your teen. But holding that over them is more likely to alienate you and make them a lot less likely to listen to what you have to say. 

Parents don’t realize that teens make the subtle switch from needing to be told what to do all the time (as kids) to wanting to figure things out themselves more, and more, and more. It helps to adjust your language towards subtle nudges, and indirect questions, and focus on assisting teens in finding the right answers themselves. 

Questions and Answers

We often see parents who struggle to connect with their children, especially teens. Teens are trying to find their own path through life and are learning to differentiate themselves from their home environment. However, they also can’t help but be molded by their parents and family members – making for a very confusing and emotionally fragile time. We often get questions about teen communication from parents, such as: 

How do I address a sensitive topic without leading to conflict? Some topics are a little harder for teens to talk about than others, whether out of embarrassment, shame, or even guilt and fear. Sex, drugs, body image issues, mental health problems, and even personal hygiene are tough topics for a lot of teens. Keep in mind that teens are looking for guidance. But they need these conversations to go at their own pace. Ask indirect questions, let your teens talk at length without interruptions, and do not become emotional or judgmental at any point. 

What can I do when my teenager seems to stonewall all conversation? Sometimes, teens don’t want to talk about certain things because these things might be awkward to talk about, in their eyes. Then it’s often a question of the right time and place. In other cases, they might feel like there is an irreconcilable difference between their opinion and yours – especially in political or religious matters. Sometimes, it’s okay to let sleeping dogs lie. 

How do I encourage my teenagers to share their thoughts and feelings openly with me? The only way to keep your teen honest – or as honest as possible – is by fostering and maintaining a solid foundation of trust, and by examining your own actions and expectations. Sometimes, teens lie because they don’t want to lose their parents’ approval. Sometimes, they lie because they fear their parents’ judgment. Whatever the case may be, you need to communicate clearly in your responses and dialogues that you won’t overreact to your teen, and level with them – about how omitting, embellishing, or lying only serves to create problems, and never actually helps bring solutions to the table. 

How can I address situations where our emotions are running high? It’s important not to let yourself get carried away in a conversation with your teen. If your teen escalates the conversation, the worst thing you can do is take it to that same level. And if you feel that you can’t help but respond in kind, cut the conversation short – and tell your teen to come back when they’re ready to talk in a calmer tone. 

No matter how difficult it can be, it’s important to stay in touch with your teen. Talk to them about how they’re doing and what they’re feeling often. Not only is talking more often an important element of a healthier parent-teen relationship, but it can also give you better opportunities to screen your teen’s mental health. 

If you’re worried about your teenager’s behavior and actions beyond their communicative struggles, it’s also a good idea to talk to a professional. Get in touch with us at Visions, your partner in teen mental health treatments. The first step towards healing can often be the most difficult. 


It’s common to be at odds with your dad or your mom when you’re a teenager, and teens are awful conversationalists. They get defensive far too easily and may be prone to escalating the conversation. With patience, empathy, and understanding, you can improve your relationship with your teen, and teach your teen important communicative and problem-solving skills for adulthood. If you and your teen are struggling with continued communication problems and deeper behavioral issues, give us a call at Visions. 


How to Talk to Teens About Drugs

It’s essential to approach the conversation about drugs with teens calmly and informatively. Choose a good time and place, stay calm, and engage in open dialogue without lecturing. Be direct about the risks, collaborate on a safety plan, and be supportive.

As parents, educators, or guardians, it is critical to address the topic of drugs with the teenagers in our lives. The conversation should be informative, supportive, and open. This article will guide you on how to talk to teens about drugs in an effective and compassionate manner.

How to Talk to Teens About Drugs

Talking to teens about drugs can often feel like navigating a minefield. The increasing prevalence of drug use among teenagers can make any parent’s heart race with anxiety. Not knowing what to say, or worse, saying the wrong thing, can exacerbate the issue. 

However, there’s hope. With the right approach, grounded in openness, information, and support, you can effectively communicate with your teen about drugs and help guide them through this critical phase of life. 

This article will share practical tips on how to talk to teens about drugs, fostering a supportive and preventive environment.

Create an Environment of Understanding

Before initiating the conversation, ensure you have adequate information about various drugs, their effects, and the reasons why teens may resort to using them. Research the current drug trends among teenagers and familiarize yourself with the social pressures they might be facing. A well-informed approach will help you gain your teen’s respect and make the conversation more impactful.

Select a Good Time and Place to Connect

Selecting an appropriate setting for the conversation is crucial. Choose a time when both you and your teen are not preoccupied or stressed. Opt for a calm and comfortable environment that is free from distractions. This will enable you both to concentrate on the discussion without feeling rushed or anxious.

Stay Calm

Maintaining a composed demeanor is essential. Your teen will be more receptive to the conversation if they see that you are calm and collected. If you appear anxious or agitated, it may cause them to become defensive or unresponsive. Aim to create a non-judgmental atmosphere that encourages open communication.

Ask, Listen, and Talk Together

Engage your teen in a two-way conversation. Ask open-ended questions to encourage them to share their thoughts and experiences. Listen actively without interrupting. Make sure that the conversation is a dialogue, not a monologue. Avoid lecturing as it can create a barrier in communication and make them less likely to open up.

Have Specific Conversations

Tailor the conversation to address specific issues relevant to your teen. For example, if your teen is involved in sports, discuss how drug use can impact their athletic performance. If they are academically inclined, discuss how drug use can affect their cognitive abilities and academic performance.

Be Direct

Teens appreciate honesty and directness. Be candid about the risks and consequences of drug use. Share factual information and debunk any myths they might have heard. Avoid using scare tactics, as this can cause them to tune out or become skeptical of what you’re saying.

Create a Safety Plan

Work together to establish a plan for dealing with situations where drugs may be present. Discuss strategies for saying no, and the importance of calling for a safe ride home if needed. Make sure they know they can contact you without judgment in any situation where they feel unsafe or pressured.

Get to Know Your Teen’s Friends and Their Parents

Teens are heavily influenced by their peers. It’s important to know who your child is spending time with. Encourage your teen to invite their friends over and make an effort to meet their parents. Building relationships with other parents can be an additional support system in helping your teen make positive choices.

Acknowledge Family History of Substance Use

If there is a history of substance abuse in your family, it’s essential to talk openly about it. Explain that some individuals might be more predisposed to addiction due to genetic factors. Discuss the importance of being extra cautious and vigilant due to this familial predisposition.

How to Get Help

If you suspect or know that your teen is using drugs, it is essential to seek help immediately. Consult a doctor, school counselor, or contact a local substance abuse treatment center. Early intervention can prevent the progression of drug use and its associated consequences.

Substance Abuse Treatment at Visions

Imagine the relief of knowing that your teen is in a safe place, receiving the support and care they need to overcome substance abuse.

Visions Adolescent Treatment Centers specialize in helping teenagers combat drug addiction. With a team of experienced professionals and a tailored approach, Visions ensures that your teen receives the highest quality of care. The center offers counseling, educational programs, and family support, addressing not just the symptoms but the underlying causes of substance abuse.

Picture your teen rediscovering their passions, engaging positively with family, and building a future they can be proud of. Visions can make this a reality. Through their holistic approach, they empower teenagers to take control of their lives, free from the chains of addiction.

Don’t wait for things to get worse. If your teen is struggling with substance abuse, take the first step towards recovery by contacting Visions Adolescent Treatment Centers today. Our compassionate staff is ready to help your family start this life-changing journey.

Frequently Asked Questions about Talking to Teens About Drugs

We hear from a lot of parents who aren’t quite sure how to talk to teens about drugs. Here are some of the most frequently asked questions and answers.

How to talk to high school students about drugs?

When talking to high school students, it’s important to relate the information to their current life stage. Address the impact on academics, relationships, and future goals. Encourage open discussions, answer questions honestly, and provide real-life examples or scenarios.

What age should parents talk to kids about drugs?

Parents should begin discussing drugs with their children around the age of 8 or 9. It’s best to start with simple, age-appropriate information and gradually delve into more detail as they get older and enter their teenage years.

How do you address substance abuse among youth?

Addressing substance abuse among youth requires a comprehensive approach. Encourage open communication, educate them about the risks, and provide support. Be vigilant for signs of substance abuse, foster a supportive environment, and seek professional help if necessary.

What are good discussion questions about drugs?

Some good discussion questions include: What do you know about drugs? Why do you think some people use drugs? What are the consequences of drug use? How can drug use affect one’s future? What are some ways to say no if someone offers you drugs?

How do you start a drug abuse speech?

Start a drug abuse speech by grabbing the audience’s attention with a startling statistic or real-life story. Then, introduce the topic and its significance. Provide an overview of what will be covered in the speech, and establish your credibility on the subject.


Talking to teens about drugs is a necessary but often challenging task. It’s essential to be well-informed, choose the right environment, and stay calm throughout the conversation. Engage in an open dialogue, be direct, and collaborate on a safety plan. Additionally, knowing your child’s friends and acknowledging any family history of substance use can be insightful. If necessary, don’t hesitate to seek help, and consider options like Visions Adolescent Treatment Centers. By approaching the conversation with understanding, respect, and support, you can help guide your teen through the pressures and choices they face regarding drug use.

Remember, the goal is not just to inform but to build a foundation of trust and communication that can help them make positive choices and know that they can turn to you for support when needed.

Communication Feelings Parenting

How to Talk to Teenagers for a Better Relationship

It’s no surprise that books on teen behavior sell millions – while we’ve all been teens at one point or another, it’s very difficult for an adult to remember what it was like, and it’s even more difficult to try and empathize with another person’s teenage behavior or mental health problems, even when they’re your child. For example, learning how to talk to teenagers to develop an awesome relationship can be unique and pose its own challenges for every situation.

How to Talk to Teenagers for a Great Relationship

If you struggle to communicate with your teen and are finding that it’s affecting your relationship, it’s time to take a step back and analyze how you approach conversations with your teen and where your inadvertent priorities lie.

1. Don’t Be a Judge, Be a Listener

Sometimes, all your teen needs is a sounding board – someone to talk to who will listen without trying to address every issue or step in with unwanted advice. This is even more important if your first reaction to your teen telling you anything is to figure out what kind of judgment you should make as a result of their experience.

If you tend to scold your teen more than anything else, don’t be surprised if they eventually stop telling you what they’re really doing and start trying to hide things.

It doesn’t matter if what your teen did was wrong – most of the time, your teen knows that. It matters more to understand why they did it and talk to them about that. Be there as your teen’s champion, your teen’s coach, your teen’s guidance – not another reflection of the world around them enumerating all the things they’ve messed up in the last week or two.

2. Don’t Try to “Fix” Their Problems, Because You Can’t

At least, not all the time. The crux of this piece of advice is not to treat every question or encounter with your teen as an opportunity to deliver a straight answer.

For example, if a teen is having trouble with their friend, avoid giving specific advice or telling them what you’d do. Let them figure out what they should do – and provide guiding principles to help them make the right choice.

Similarly, when your teen misbehaves, ask questions. What were they thinking? Did they have a plan? What do they want? As parents, it’s impossible sometimes to control certain frustrations and avoid lashing out with accusations or condemnation. But whenever possible, use the situation to help your teen navigate their problems themselves.

3. Provide Guidance

It’s a popular sentiment that teens continuously pull away from their parents on the way to adulthood, but while that is true, it’s often paired with the misconception that parents become a waning influence on the health, well-being, and personality of their children.

Teens are absolutely shaped by their parents more than any other individual at that point in their life, provided their parents are around to shape them – much more so than their peers or teachers. In fact, contrary to popular belief, it’s usually a teen’s parent-child relationship that affects who they choose as their peers, and it tends to be the greatest influence on their overall mental health and likelihood to struggle at school or with substance or drug use.

Your teens will continue to mirror your attitudes and behaviors whether they realize it or not and will be reliant on you as their main role models until they leave home. That’s a significant portion of most people’s teen years as well as their young adulthood, especially as the economy worsens and more young adults opt to live with their parents.

All this is to say that no matter how it might feel at any given point, remember that what you say, do, and think as a parent will continue to impact your teen substantially, even as they become increasingly independent.

4. Manage Your Emotions

A lot of teens thrive on eliciting conflict. It’s not really something they do on purpose – teens are just generally getting accustomed to managing their emotions and, as such, are quick to resort to the dramatic. That means yelling, screaming, “I hate you!” and running away at the first sign of confrontation.

The worst thing you can do as a parent is give in to your inner frustrations and start scolding them or lobbing insults and yells of your own. Always, always, try to keep your cool.

Again, we’ve mentioned that we aren’t robots, and frustrations can seep through sometimes. But as much as possible, you need to emphasize rising above as a parent in order to provide proper guidance and set an example of emotional maturity. Show your teen that, while it’s healthy to let loose and blow off steam sometimes, it’s never appropriate to deal with a situation – especially a problem – by venting emotionally, especially towards other people.

5. Don’t Press the Issue, A Stone Won’t Bleed

As much as it pains a lot of parents to hear this sometimes, timing is quite important. Your teen won’t be open to a conversation all the time, and you can’t always press the issue just because you demand it. Your authority isn’t absolute anymore, especially when a teen feels quite strongly about something.

All you achieve by pushing when it’s no longer time to push is a much more antagonistic teen and an increasingly frustrated mindset.

This circles back to why it’s important to treat teens as individuals. They’re at a point where their development necessitates boundaries, privacy, and the ability to make choices that matter. Teaching them that also means understanding that there will be times when they draw these boundaries against you, and you need to give them some time to calm down.

6. Don’t Escalate

This last piece of advice can be very simple and very powerful. When your teen disagrees or responds aggressively, don’t immediately match their tone. Parents sometimes think the best way to respond to a teen with aggression is by displaying that aggression back towards them, but more often than not, this just seesaws into a screaming match.

Instead, try to take a pause. A moment of silence can mean a lot more than a loud yell. Sometimes, frustrated teens – whether it’s school stress, relationship problems, or even just simple hunger – can respond to questions like “have you done the dishes yet?” or demands like “take out the garbage, like you were told twice today” with venom.

But if you give them a moment to reconsider what they’ve said with a simple, stern look, you may be surprised how often you’ll get a begrudged “okay, fine.” In moments like that, a win is a win, and it’s better than taking on their energy and spewing it back at them to no avail.

Practice Talking to Your Teen Today

Talking to teens isn’t easy. The context of any given moment, the million things on your teen’s mind, the way their emotions are at play at that given moment, and their individual personalities can make each and every conversation a minefield of its own.

Learning to deal with that takes time, patience, and a keen mind to understand how your teen tends to think and work. But it’s worth it. Becoming a better listener and developing a healthier verbal relationship with your teen can be a good predictor for positive outcomes in life, including better academic achievements and mental health.

For more information on teen mental health and treatment, visit Visions Treatment Centers.

Communication Depression Mental Health

How to Help a Friend That is Depressed

Depression is a difficult condition to live with. It is also difficult when you don’t know how to help a friend that is depressed – or even a family member. Depressive symptoms can often mislead the person struggling with them, making them feel like things are far worse than they are or that they themselves are bad, worthless, unloved, or ignored.

How to Help a Friend that is Depressed

Contending with these feelings is difficult, and sometimes, depression can be a frustrating thing to deal with in a friendship. But if you stay patient, take care of yourself, and heed professional advice, you can continue to provide meaningful support to your loved one.

1. Support Their Treatment

It goes without saying that you should not undermine their treatment. Regardless of your personal beliefs or opinions, and regardless of what they’re doing to get better, don’t mock it or scoff at it. Maybe you are skeptical about talk therapy or don’t think that antidepressants work. Or maybe your friend started on herbal medication, such as St. John’s wort, and finds that it is effective for them.

It doesn’t matter whether it’s a placebo or a real therapeutic effect. If it is helping your friend – and if they are feeling better – support them. And if it stops working, don’t rub their noses in it or play “I told you so.” Help them find another way.

2. Don’t Spread the Word

This is another no-brainer, but it needs to be said – don’t gossip. Aside from avoiding nasty rumors, it’s also important to keep quiet about your friend’s feelings, experiences, and well-being. That’s their business, and who they share that information with is their business as well.

If your friend feels ready to talk about their depression with others, it should be up to them who they tell and what they say, and what they leave out. If you’re who they confide in, then it’s doubly important that you don’t break that trust by saying something you shouldn’t have.

3. Offer Distractions

This is an important piece of advice. You should be there to listen to your friend and make sure that they know someone hears them and is there for them, especially outside of the family. But consider how you might be able to pull them out of a moment of rumination or circular thinking.

These are common in depression – negative thought patterns that start with a self-loathing or anxious thought and spiral into worse and worse assumptions and feelings, including things like “it doesn’t matter if I disappear” or “no one cares anyway.”

Providing an apt distraction is a good way to pull your friend away from these thoughts whenever they begin to develop. Stick to the things you used to have fun with – even if your friend struggles to enjoy their old hobbies, revisiting them with you from time to time might help them crack a smile or laugh at an old memory.

4. Learn More About Depression and Other Mood Disorders

There is plenty to learn. Depression comes in many different shapes and forms, and understanding which one your friend is struggling with can tell you a lot about what to expect and what they might feel like. In fact, it’s a great step in learning how to help a friend that is depressed.

Listening to stories or experiences of other people with similar diagnoses can give you the tools to further empathize with how your friend feels, or put yourself in their shoes when thinking about what to say or how to talk to them. In addition to major depressive disorder, other depressive disorders include:

If you have more specific questions, you can always ask your friend to help explain.

5. You Don’t Need to Be There Always

This can be hard to hear for some people, but it’s not healthy for you or for your friend if you try to be there 24/7. This reliance on your help and continued care creates unhealthy expectations and can create a powerful and dangerous interdependent relationship.

Furthermore, while we should take care of those we love, it’s one step too far to try and dedicate yourself to someone’s care without equal consideration for your own well-being and mental health.

This is especially important if your friend is, in fact, your partner, girlfriend, or boyfriend. It’s easy to see yourself as the “provider” of emotional support and mental wellness, but don’t become their emotional crutch or provide them with affirmations at every turn in response to their self-loathing.

The goal of depression treatment is to reduce depressive symptoms and, in turn, help the individual strengthen their resilience against future episodes through stronger self-esteem and better stress management skills. These are difficult tasks that emphasize a person’s ability to take care of their own emotional needs. Your “care” can end up harming them if it goes too far.

6. Don’t Allow Threats

It must be said – if your friend or partner begins to threaten to hurt themselves if you leave or don’t do as they say, it’s time to draw a line and seek help, both for yourself and for them. If need be, distance yourself for your own safety.

Depression does not give anyone the right to threaten one another, and people who are depressed do not suddenly lose empathy for one another or lose sight of the concept of agency. Your friend might be worried about losing their loved ones, and they might doubt your love for them – or anyone else’s – but that does explain nor justify threatening self-harm and suicide.

It’s a very different matter altogether if your friend is talking about self-harm or suicide outside of the context of a threat or without the implication that they might “use” it.

Self-harm and suicidal ideation are common symptoms of depression, often culminating in a suicide attempt. Sometimes, there are no warning signs. If you’re worried about your loved one’s immediate safety, get help as soon as possible.

7. Seek Help

At the end of the day, if you don’t know what else to do, it is perfectly valid and completely encouraged to seek help – whether it’s the help of a teacher, a parent, a counselor, or a therapist.

This is especially important if you feel you aren’t equipped to deal with some of the questions and situations you find yourself in – such as struggling to talk a friend out of suicide, witnessing self-harm, or watching someone you love and care about do something reckless or senseless out of a need to feel.

You are not responsible for your friend, no matter how much you do or how much you care. And more importantly, you can never take their depression away from them. It isn’t in your power, nor is it in anyone else’s. Mental health is complicated, individual, and entirely unfair.

Teen Depression Treatment

Some people go through their entire lives feeling optimistic and ready, with barely a moment of self-doubt. And for some people, life itself feels like a non-starter, and it’s not something you can convince them of otherwise.

Get help. Convince your loved one to go seek help with you. Fight depression alongside them. But never feel responsible for their fight, or feel like it’s a fight you must win for them. Putting that pressure on yourself can backfire, especially if your friend’s mental health worsens over time.

Reach out to Visions Treatment Centers for more information about teen depression and depression treatment for adolescents.

Communication Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD) Parenting

Talking About OCD with Your Teen

Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) affects approximately 500,000 children and teens in the US. While it is a well-known condition, OCD is frequently misunderstood and more common than most people expect. However, talking about OCD with your teen can encourage open conversation, help you and your teen recognize symptoms, and find appropriate treatment.

At its core, OCD is an anxiety disorder. Like social phobia or generalized anxiety, it centers around the physical and mental symptoms of fear and worry. However, it functions differently from those disorders. OCD is a recursive condition defined by two major characteristics: unwanted and overpowering obsessions and ritualistic, soothing compulsions.

These characteristics feed one another and keep the cycle going. When an obsession is ignored, the anxiety and discomfort around it grow exponentially until a compulsion is used to soothe it. However, this ineffective coping mechanism usually leads to the next obsession in due time. Alternatively, certain environmental triggers – from stress to timing – can trigger an obsession.

Children and teens with OCD may not necessarily know or understand that they’re struggling with something most people don’t struggle with. But the obstacles OCD can throw into schoolwork and home life can further feed the anxieties, frustrations, and depressive thoughts that may plague your child.

In teens who do know what OCD is and suspect they may have OCD, it becomes common to try and ignore or avoid the issue to dodge the stigma surrounding mental illness. Making sure your teen feels comfortable enough to talk about their anxieties, and seek treatment, is important. Here’s what you should know when talking about OCD with your teen.

Learn More

OCD is a complex disorder and not one to be lightly diagnosed. If you suspect that your teen or loved one might be struggling with OCD, especially if it runs in the family, it may be worth taking note of your teen’s behavior and speaking to a specialist first.

Learning more about OCD can help you talk to your teen about how they’ve been feeling and how they’ve been coping. Learn more about the different obsessions teens can struggle with and the many different ways in which compulsions develop.

OCD symptoms can even appear in the least likely of places, such as your teen’s gaming habits. There’s a difference between a quirky habit and a ritualistic devotion to certain daily practices.

If or once your teen is diagnosed, taking the time to learn more about OCD and how it is treated can help give both you and your child a better perspective of what’s to come and what to expect.

Dealing with Treatment Refusal

People are not often enthusiastic about being encouraged to see a therapist or mental health professional. We do ultimately still associate mental health disorders with personal failings, despite the fact that they are not related.

It is crucial to ensure that your teen understands where you are coming from as a parent, in the sense that you want them to have a chance at their best life, rather than center on the idea that something is fundamentally wrong with them. We don’t blame people for having a bad knee or for suddenly receiving a cancer diagnosis. We can’t blame anyone for having OCD. But we can do something about it together.

Recognize Your Role

It can be hard to admit that we may contribute to our teen’s compulsions and behavior, but even inadvertent involvement can negatively affect your teen’s perception of their own condition, being misinterpreted as tacit approval or a sign that things are fine.

This can come in many unexpected ways, such as providing excessive reassurance (feeding the proverbial feedback loop of OCD) or inadvertently participating in ritualized behavior, such as nighttime rituals your teen can’t sleep without.

If you find yourself involved in your teen’s compulsions, it’s best to see a professional yourself and bring it up. They can guide you through a context-sensitive way to help your teen and introduce better coping mechanisms.

Champion Transparency and Honesty

This can be difficult for some parents. It may sound counterproductive to give your teen more space when you want to have a greater effect on them. But sometimes, pulling away is the best way to get your teen to come to you.

To truly help your teen, you ultimately need their full trust and their total honesty. That comes from showing your teen, time and time again, that you trust them, too, and that your love and affection towards them is entirely unconditional, no matter what they think or feel.

Begin by respecting both their privacy and their right to a non-judgmental home environment. Snooping is an effective way to figure out what your teen is doing, but it’s an even better way to break their trust.

You want to make sure that you foster an environment where your teen feels that they are being increasingly treated like an independent adult – while still being your child and your loved one. Then, talk to them in earnest. Be honest about your own experiences. Relate to what they feel, whether it’s anxiety about school or your own experiences with depression and stress.

When you can’t relate, be empathetic. Ask them what they want to do. Start talking about OCD with them. Talk to them about getting help. Offer to bring them to a therapist the next day.

Support Their Treatment

Conditions like OCD are difficult to treat and difficult to live with. They can be a lifelong obstacle, requiring continued treatment and varied coping skills to make do. But when a person’s loved one is diagnosed with these conditions, it poses a unique challenge.

Standing on the sidelines is difficult because your influence on your teen’s condition is, while important, ultimately limited. It is a battle you cannot fight for them. The most you can do is be in their corner, always.

At times you will be their cheerleader. At times you will be their caretaker. But with patience, compassion, and the right help, you will also have many, many times where you will feel nothing but pride and joy for how your teen has overcome their challenges and continued to lead a good life in spite of them.

OCD Treatment for Teens at Visions

If talking about OCD with your child isn’t enough, contact us at Visions Treatment Centers. We can provide the tools and best OCD treatment approach to help your teen get back on track.

Communication Education Mental Health Self-Care

Juggling Mental Health and School this Fall

If you or your teen is headed back to school this Fall, then awareness of common mental health problems and how to identify them can be invaluable. Teens today face mounting pressures as they pave their way towards college and the workspace. Building a better skillset for tackling and addressing mental health and school can help you or your teen deal with future stressors, become more resilient, and learn how and when to seek help.

Did you know about one in five teens will struggle with symptoms of mental illness, ranging from depressive episodes to major anxiety and everything in between? More than just a rare occurrence, mental health problems are a common issue in modern society and one that compassion, community, and a societal commitment can help address.

Mental health conditions like depression and anxiety are treatable, yet only a fraction of those who need treatment get the help they require. Our responsibility as a society is to ensure that mental healthcare is not just available, but easily accessible and well-known. Fostering an open and understanding relationship toward mental health issues begins at an early age and needs to be especially emphasized during adolescence, a time in which many mental health conditions have their onset.

Work On Your Coping Skills

To cope is to deal with something negative. We cope with death, with grief, with stress, with loss. We cope with the things that may bring us down and keep us down. But coping skills can be both positive and negative.

Negative Coping

An effective, but negative coping skill, is having a drink. Alcohol is a central nervous system depressant, and can have both a calming effect, and encourage the release of neurotransmitters that make us feel happier.

But both effects are short-lived and come at a heavy price. In the long-term, alcohol use actively feeds anxious thoughts and makes negative episodes more frequent, negatively impacts cognition and problem solving, affects memory, and leads to a whole host of dangerous, physical ailments and symptoms. That doesn’t mean you can’t ever drink alcohol, once you’re of legal age. But it does mean that alcohol is a poor answer to life’s problems.

Positive Coping

Similarly, there are positive coping skills. Going for a run or channeling your anxieties and negative thoughts into physical activity can be a healthy and effective outlet for stress. Exercise and physical movement have a positive long-term impact on your mental and physical wellbeing but are also useful in the short term, leading to the release of endorphins.

However, that doesn’t mean working out or breaking into a sprint will solve your problems, and just like anything else, you can overdo exercising, leading to overuse injuries and joint pain.

Coping Is Not the Answer to All Problems

Coping skills help us feel better, but they are not an answer to our problems. They are meant to help us deal with them, directly or indirectly, without introducing new ones. As such, we can split coping skills into maladaptive (such as resorting to substance use or self-harm) and constructive (such as exercises and creative outlets, like journaling and painting).

Building positive habits and finding effective, constructive coping mechanisms are both important tasks in adolescence, because these habits can carry on into adulthood, and help you deal with life’s future stressors, like mental health and school.

Planning a Schedule to Balance Mental Health and School

Being overwhelmed is a major source of stress for teens and adults alike. Effective time management is important for mental health and school to avoid overwhelming amounts of stress, such as concurrent deadlines, mounting pressure from parents and teachers on late projects, or your own sense of guilt for procrastinating. That is where learning to create realistic and helpful schedules – and finding ways to stick to them – is important.


First, we need to address procrastination and feelings of guilt. Many of us grow up to learn that being lazy is bad and that procrastination is a character fault. However, research tells us that putting things off is often a natural consequence of poor mood and psychological health. It becomes a vicious cycle, as procrastination leads to negative outcomes, which leads to poor experiences and even more procrastination.

We avoid the things that we are worried about but, in turn, only make them worse, as the pressure to address them mounts to a breaking point, at which point we rush to complete our tasks and feel a momentary sense of relief before the cycle restarts.

Creating Realistic Time Management Skills

Building healthy time management skills and realistic schedules can help avoid this destructive cycle of procrastination and guilt. Consider creating a list of everything you need to accomplish in a given week and break that list down into manageable daily tasks.

Break each task down into chunks of 30-minute to one-hour working periods and plan your day around these work times. Interrupt the monotony of your tasks with frequent snack and water breaks, music, and stretching.

Have a friend or study group hold you accountable to your schedule and remind you to focus or refocus on your work. By breaking your weekly tasks down into individual daily segments, you can take your time and focus on the tasks at hand without rushing to get a week’s worth of work done in a single day.

Put Together a Mental Health Kit

If you are prone to episodes of anxiety or depression, then it might be a good idea to put together your very own mental health kit. These are emergency kits you can refer to, to boost your mood, help you cope with your feelings, take a break, or seek help. A few examples of kits you can put together include:

  • Digital playlists of videos or music that make you feel better.
  • Your favorite (healthy!) snack, kept in your bag or close at hand.
  • Something to fidget with or stimulate your hands or mind, such as a puzzle toy.
  • A pocketbook you enjoy rereading.
  • A journal to create notes, list your thoughts and go over your emotions.
  • And more.

Tell Your Friends and Form a Support Network

Positive coping skills, mood boosters, and better time management habits can help us keep our negative thoughts in check and promote a healthier state of mind. But it’s dangerous to assume that our mental health is something we can control entirely on our own. There will be tougher days than usual and times when nothing seems to help. It’s important not to blame yourself for these days or feel like a failure for needing help. No one is an island – we are all connected and help each other through life.

As such, it’s important to discuss your condition with your closest friends and family and emphasize the need for a support network. Set up a group chat to talk with your friends and share your feelings. Get on calls frequently. Spend time together. Organize a plan for how to help one another on darker days. And share resources for emergency situations, such as self-help numbers, the numbers of a good therapist, the school counselor, or a reputable psychiatrist.

When Is It Time to Get Help?

Mental health professionals, such as those at Visions Treatment Centers, are trained to help whenever they are needed, and not just when a person has reached their breaking point.

Do not wait for a “rock bottom” of any kind, learning to effectively deal with mental health and school is essential. If you are feeling confused about your emotions, if your mood has been down a lot lately, if you can’t stop feeling sad, or if you are just beginning to feel burnt out – even before school has begun! – it’s time to ask for help.

Adolescence Communication Feelings Mental Health Parenting

Supporting LGBTQ Teen Mental Health

LGBTQ youth (teens who identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, or questioning/queer) are far more likely to experience victimization because of their identity, are far more likely to struggle with symptoms of mental illness, and are far more likely to resort to self-harm and suicide. With all of these variables at play, it’s essential to support LGBTQ teen mental health to provide help, empowerment, and growth.

These statistics are not inherent to being queer, but they are often a side effect of identifying as part of the LGBTQ community or living under circumstances that force repression and self-hatred. Getting help can be difficult, especially when teens worry about or fear the repercussions of coming out as LGBTQ or struggle with acknowledging their identity.

Acceptance goes a long way. Mental health rates and suicide have gone down among gay and lesbian teens, although they are still above the rates for their straight peers. In the same vein, suicide rates remained highest among trans teens, especially in the wake of a rise in violence against LGBTQ youth and continued attacks on LGBTQ groups – especially trans individuals – in both media and politics in America.

Helping your LGBTQ teen get the support they need to lead a fulfilling and happy life can be difficult, but it can be done. The resources are there, and the communities exist, both locally and online. You are not alone, whether as a teen or as a parent.

Beware of Conversion Schemes

Seeking help is an important part of getting better, whether you initiate it with your teen or through your teen’s own research. But with the desperation of wanting treatment comes the vulnerability that leads thousands of teens and parents into the trap of conversion therapy.

Regardless of your personal beliefs, research shows that conversion therapy is unethical and harmful to children and teens. It does not work and only causes lasting psychological trauma as a result. It is under no circumstances a form of “therapy” to begin with, and it is, with good reason, banned in 19 different states and jurisdictions.

Finding a Therapist with Knowledge of LGBTQ Teen Mental Health

The best thing you can do for your teen’s well-being, and to help your teen cope with the growing mental stressors associated with coming out as an LGBTQ+ individual, is to accept them as they are and, if they are struggling with their mental health, find a professional therapist or psychiatrist who has a history of advocating for the LGBTQ+ community, LGBTQ+ teens, and/or LGBTQ teen mental health.

A therapist with a personal history and knowledge of the different struggles that LGBTQ teens go through today may be able to have more success in helping your teen find treatment than someone with no experience with LGBTQ.

Just as personal representation in media can make a difference for many teens and adults who feel invisible in a heteronormative culture, working with a mental health professional who has personal experiences in the LGBTQ community to draw on or can better relate to your teen professionally through their LGBTQ identity may be a better fit for them.

Comfort is important when choosing your therapist. A gay man or a trans woman may have a better idea of what it is like to be in your teen’s shoes, in addition to their professional training and academic experience as psychologists and therapists, to help identify valid treatment options, root out local resources, and help cope with individual stressors.

How You Can Help Your Teen

There are countless ways in which parents contribute to their teens’ well-being, knowingly and unknowingly.

While professional treatment is important, especially in the event of self-harm, suicidal episodes, or debilitating mental health symptoms, parents should never underestimate the significance of their influence and supportive parenting, nor should they lose sight of how their actions and behaviors continue to shape their teens’ lives. Here are a few things you could do or are doing that can continue to help your teen with their mental health.

  • Let your teen know they’re loved unconditionally.
  • Talk to them and hear them out. Listen to their thoughts and words.
  • Spend time getting to know their interests a little better. Spending time with your teen and showing interest in what they like can help them feel more comfortable talking to you about other things, and helps them understand that you aren’t out to judge them as many others might be.
  • Review your misconceptions. Well-meaning intentions may lead to ideas and sayings that are actively hurting your teen. For example, don’t shrug off their identity or their mental health issues as “just a phase.” Learning more about gender identities and sexual orientation can help you relate to your teen and avoid alienating them.
  • Advocate at school. Not all schools have LGBTQ+ ally groups or LGBTQ-friendly student bodies, but all schools have LGBTQ teens. Talk to teachers and parents about organizing queer-straight alliance organizations to help LGBTQ teens in your community feel welcome, and to reduce victimization.
  • Talk to the teachers. Teachers can be a good source of information about what’s going on at school. Your teen might not always be forthcoming about what’s going on at school, especially if they’re being hurt or bullied. They may blame themselves or feel ashamed.
  • Get into therapy together. If your teen is struggling with depression or anxious thoughts or has a history of self-harm, then getting help can be daunting. Mental illness, in particular, has a way of feeding on self-doubt and shame, and many teens who know they need help may be reluctant to get it. Encourage them by making an appointment together and tagging along the first few times. Alternatively, look into remote online therapy as an option, to begin with.
  • Give them privacy. Being there for your teen is important, but there’s a difference between being aware of what’s going on in their lives and spying without their consent. If you try to monitor all of your teen’s online activities, for example, they’re just more likely to go to greater lengths to establish secret accounts or carve out some other niche of privacy and foster resentment. The best way to keep your teen from keeping too many secrets from you is to ensure they know you’re always available to talk to and are willing to listen.

LGBTQ Teen Mental Health Services at Visions

Being a parent is hard, and it can be harder yet when your teen is struggling with depressive or anxious thoughts. LGBTQ+ teens are just like any other teen but are much more at-risk for mental health issues, often as an indirect result of their identity. Helping them protect themselves, know they are loved, develop stronger self-esteem, and feel proud in their own skin can go a long way towards helping them feel better.

If you or a loved one is seeking additional information on LGBTQ teen mental health, reach out to us. At Visions Treatment Centers, we offer unique mental health programming for LGBTQ+ teens, addressing many issues often found in the LGBTQ+ community.

Communication Mental Health Parenting

5 Ways to Scope Out Your Teens Mental Health Status

Maybe they’re not eating as much as they used to. Maybe the enthusiasm in their voice has disappeared. Or maybe, they just seem different, and it’s got you a little bit worried. But you’re not sure how to approach the topic, or even how to scope out your teen’s mental health status. Asking them about it, you get little more than a grunt, a deflection, or an unconvincing “I’m fine.” Are they? You can’t tell.

Scoping out a teen’s thoughts and emotions isn’t easy. While we’ve all been teens at some point, it’s often pretty difficult to put yourself in the shoes of your child. Teens, after all, think a bit differently than adults tend to.

But that doesn’t mean you can’t probe them the right way. Even if your teen really is fine, it’s still a good idea to ask them about their mental health from time to time. But how?

Ask the Right Questions

Open-ended questions get you unsatisfying answers. The right questions can get you a little closer to the truth. If you want to figure out how your teen is doing, you need to evoke the kind of responses that give you better context clues as to how they feel.

It’s not enough to use a lead-in sentence. Saying: “I’ve noticed you haven’t been eating well lately, are you okay?” might net you an “I’m fine” or an irritated “I’m just not hungry.” Instead of “are you okay?”, ask: “What’s bothering you? You seem distracted, and your head’s been all over the place lately.” If your teen is acting much more scatterbrained than usual, it’s something they probably can’t deny. Alternatively, try:

  • “When was the last time you spent some time with your girl/boyfriend?”
  • “When was the last time you hung out with your friends?”
  • “Did you have a bad day? Wanna talk about it? Tell me what happened.”

It’s Not Always About Solutions

If and when your teen does start talking about the way they feel, don’t take it as an open invitation to offer nothing but solutions.

Sometimes, a helpful solution can be just what the doctor ordered. A nice piece of advice forged by insightful experiences. But a canned response, or a clichéd statement, is more likely to push your teen away than get them to continue talking to you.

If your teen is feeling anxious about something, it’s not exactly helpful to tell them to take it easy or that they’ll be fine. They want you to hear them, to validate how they’re feeling, to share your own experiences of being scared, of being anxious, and of overcoming that feeling.

Take them seriously. Listen to what they have to say. Don’t try to offer up a solution right away, especially if you don’t know exactly how your teen is feeling.

Notice the Red Flags

The common stereotype is that teens are unruly and emotional, so it’s hard to differentiate between a normal mood swing and a mental health issue. But that doesn’t mean it’s impossible. Despite a few irrationalities, teen behavior can and does make sense – and there are always red flags that help parents indicate something is seriously wrong. A few things to keep an eye out for include:

  • A sudden and dramatic change in weight. Weight loss or weight gain is normal, but a drastic weight change may sometimes indicate a physical, mental, or eating disorder problem.
  • Physical signs of excessive stress. Frequent or chronic headaches and stomach aches, unexplained pains (i.e., no indication of why pain is being felt), signs of hairpulling, nail-biting, or nervous tics.
  • Signs of self-harm include hiding scars or cuts, self-starvation, or excessive exercise (to the point of chronic injury or deteriorating health).
  • Signs of drug use include empty pill bottles, fake prescriptions, other people’s medication, hidden alcohol bottles, or drug paraphernalia.
  • Excessive and sudden anger issues/irritability, including getting physical or frequent shouting. Unusual temperament changes, almost like a different personality.
  • And more.

Keep In Touch with Their Friends

It’s always a good idea to know who your teen hangs out with, not just because it gives you a better idea of what they’re up to, but because it can help you keep in touch with your teen, give you better context for what’s happening to them or how they’re feeling, and gives you people to ask when things don’t see to be going well for your teen.

If your teen won’t tell you what’s going on, try to ask their friends.

Reassure Your Teen

Some teens try and hide their problems from their parents for multiple reasons – but the most common ones include wanting to keep their parents from worrying and avoiding a parent’s judgment.

If you’re busy a lot of the time, then your teen might feel like bringing this up with you is just adding to your plate – especially if you’ve been having a hard time keeping up with them lately, neglecting to ask them how they’re doing, or shutting them down when they were about to tell you about their day.

Prioritize Good Communication

Prioritizing healthy communication with your teen is important, especially as they complete their transition into adulthood. Teens are increasingly independent individuals and continuously seek to define themselves while seeking distance from their parents. Giving them further reasons to push away can alienate you from your children and make it harder for you to reconnect and keep connected over time.

On the other hand, not all homes are safe spaces, and sometimes, your teen might not feel comfortable talking about how they really feel. Perhaps it’s because of something you’ve said in the past, an unfortunate association between their symptoms and someone you don’t like, or a parenting style that has eroded the trust between you.

Establishing a safe space for your teen at home is important to help them not just talk more freely about how they feel but also make progress in their treatment. Shaming your teen or making them feel even worse about how they think or what they’re doing will only send them down a deeper spiral.

Affirming Unconditional Love

Regardless of the context for why your teen might not be talking about how they’re feeling, reassurance is important, affirming your teen’s identity and worth as a person with or without their symptoms, and affirming your unconditional love for them, and the trust you want to foster between each other.

Make sure your teen knows that they can count on you and should always count on you to be in your corner. Help them come to terms with who they are in a positive sense, so they can tackle their mental health in earnest and separate themselves from their condition.

Don’t Forget Your Own Mental Health Status

Parents want the best for their children. But it’s important not to neglect your own needs in the process. You cannot offer effective support to your loved ones without doing the work to maintain your mental health status as well.

That’s a lot to ask. But you’re not in it alone. Just as you should support your teen, find others who can help support you. Friends. Family. Partners. People you can lean on in tough times, people you can talk to, people to open up to.

Stress management and adequate coping skills matter too. That means utilizing constructive coping skills – exercise rather than drinking, for example.

Taking care of yourself both mentally and physically can have a direct and positive impact on your teen, as well. While we like to think that our influence as a parent will wane strongly with each passing day after a teen turns sixteen, parents continue to be the most important role model for a teen’s behavior until well into adulthood. Children tend to continue to mirror their parents, even if they don’t want to. Improving the way you take care of yourself can help your teen take better care of themselves, too.

Get Help at Visions Treatment Centers

If your teen is struggling with a mental health issue, contact us today. For more information, visit us at Visions Treatment Centers. We offer professional help for teen mental health conditions via residential treatment and a range of modalities, using specialized treatment plans.

Don’t wait. Reach out now for an evaluation and testing.

Anxiety Communication

How to Help Anxiety in Teens

It’s only natural to want the best for our kids – but that only makes it much harder when we find out that nothing we do seems to work. Anxiety disorders, like other mental health disorders, are complex and require a long-term treatment approach that combines individual therapy with support structures and medication. It’s not something we are equipped to deal with, let alone our kids. However, there are many ways you can learn how to help anxiety in teens.

Finding the best way to support your teen while they are struggling with anxiety can be difficult. But don’t let that diminish or erase the power you do have. Parents are ultimately a teen’s most important therapist because while they might not be professionally trained, they are always there, and that’s crucial.

Learning more about anxiety and how your actions can help your teen cope with their symptoms not only empowers them to better deal with their condition over time but gives you the means to provide meaningful help to your teen, while contributing to your own mental health.

Like any system, a family needs to work together to stay healthy. In that sense, contributing to your teen’s mental wellbeing also means making a contribution to yours. Let’s see how you can help.

What is Teen Anxiety?

On its own, anxiety is a synonym for fear or worry. It is the feeling of dread that precedes something unfortunate, whether imaginary or real. In a psychiatric sense, an anxiety disorder is an inappropriate, extreme, or generalized and overwhelming sense of fear or dread.

Teens with anxiety disorders are breaking down mentally over imagined dangers, or struggle to cope with both physical and mental symptoms of fear developed through chronic stressors, or very acute and traumatic experiences.

Anxiety itself is a normal human emotion. We tend to move into a state of stress in anticipation of something stressful, and it’s normal to feel nervous about an upcoming exam or a confrontation with someone else.

Disordered Anxiety

But disordered anxiety is misplaced and destructive. It robs our teens of their creative and cognitive abilities, slows learning and understanding, and can hold teens back from developing on par with their peers. Meanwhile, anxiety disorders can escalate, developing into worse physical and mental symptoms and co-occurring problems, such as depression, self-harm, eating disorders, and/or recreational substance use.

Teens are just as much at risk for anxiety as adults, even if their stressors and worries might not feel as “pressing” to an adult. The entire point of an anxiety disorder is that your teen’s fears and worries aren’t justified, regardless of what is triggering them.

Finding the Root of the Issue

Getting to the root of the issue isn’t always easy – post-traumatic stress symptoms can be traced back to the triggering event, but something like a generalized anxiety disorder can develop in a teen’s tween years simply due to inherent genetic factors.

Different Types of Anxiety

Anxiety disorders are not just some of the most common disorders in the world, but they also encompass a large variety of different conditions.

Some are more known than others, such as social anxiety, generalized anxiety, and obsessive-compulsive disorder. Some are less familiar, such as panic disorders and niche phobias. Every anxiety disorder has its own treatment plan and considerations. Some of the more common anxiety disorders include:

  • Generalized Anxiety Disorder – Generalized anxiety disorder is the most common type of anxiety and is characterized by chronic worry and a blanket of fear over almost every waking moment. It can cause immense stress and both physical and mental fatigue. This fear often exists without any triggers or provocation.
  • Social Anxiety Disorder – Social anxiety disorder or social phobia is characterized by overwhelming feelings of dread in social circumstances, whether it’s being introduced to someone new or being asked to speak in public. Most cases of social phobia involve one or two specific fears, such as a fear of crowds or fear of public speaking. Some cases of social phobia are more intense and widespread.
  • PostTraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) – PTSD is characterized by multiple different sets of symptoms, including hypervigilance, unwanted remembering, dissociation from the event (or reality itself), selective amnesia, generalized anxiety, and panic attacks.
  • Panic Disorder – Panic disorder is characterized by multiple recurring panic attacks within a short period of time. Panic attacks are physical manifestations of anxiety that feel like a heart attack, including shortness of breath and a sense of impending doom.
  • ObsessiveCompulsive Disorder (OCD) – OCD is characterized by obsessions (unwanted thoughts and intrusive fantasies) coupled with compulsions (ritualistic or repetitive behavior that soothes the anxiety and temporarily delays the thoughts but may cause them to return shortly). This cycle can be self-destructive, especially if the compulsions can cause harm, such as excessive handwashing.
  • Phobias – Phobias are intense fears characterized by recurring nightmares and fight-or-flight reactions even in innocuous circumstances. Someone with an intense fear of spiders won’t just be unable to look at a picture of them but might experience frequent unwanted thoughts about spiders in their clothing, or underneath carpets, in shoes, or on the ceiling, without any warning or triggers.

How to Help Anxiety in Teens at Home

As a parent, your support is crucial. Many teens nowadays are aware of anxiety disorders and may even go to certain lengths to hide their symptoms to avoid a diagnosis, or the stigma that is still attached to mental health issues. However, encouraging your teen to talk openly about their worries and anxieties can be an important form of support.

Be there to listen to them and help reassure them that they can be honest about how they feel with no judgment from you. Anxiety disorders can take normal worries and amp them up into major problems, and it’s important to acknowledge the way your teen feels, rather than try to minimize these feelings or tell them that they’re blowing them out of proportion.

While it’s understandable that you’d want to “explain” that your teen’s anxieties are exaggerated, it’s not a sentiment that works or makes them feel better. It just makes them feel worse for feeling the way they do. Instead, help them find constructive ways to deal with their anxieties, such as encouraging them to take up a coping skill that has worked for them in the past (like journaling, drawing something, or playing an instrument), or help distract them (watch a comedy together, go for a walk outside, or cook something together).

Stress Management and Coping Skills

Stress management and coping skills are both crucial parts of anxiety treatment. Many anxiety conditions can get better or worse over time. Some are tied to a specific time period or are strongest after a traumatic event. Professional treatments, including therapy and medication, can help manage and even minimize the impact an anxiety disorder can have on your teen’s life.

But it is their continued commitment to certain learned coping skills – and your continued support, as a friend or family member – that help them keep anxiety symptoms in check. These might include sports, creative endeavors, their dream job, nature getaways, or healthy rituals, such as maintaining a good sleep schedule, developing a cooking habit, or finding other constructive outlets for their stress and anxiety.

Stress management, on the other hand, is the prophylaxis for anxiety. It is meant to help keep stressors down and avoid mental fatigue that may lead to exacerbated anxiety issues. This can include avoiding mental rumination, avoiding procrastination, better sleep and diet, regular exercise, and healthier relationships.

Get Help for Teen Anxiety at Visions Treatment Centers

Sadly, there is no replacement for professional treatment. If you or a loved one are struggling with anxiety, it’s in your best interest to seek professional help. Therapy can be a big step forward and can help you lead your best life. Reach out to us at Visions Treatment Centers for more information.

Communication Family Mental Health Parenting Transparency

Mental Health Literacy: A Convo Guide for Parents

Finding ways to help their child is every parent’s top priority – but mental health topics can be difficult conversation starters. How do you approach a teen’s recent behavior without shutting them down? How can you safely lead the conversation in the direction of help and understanding without seeming overbearing, condescending, or controlling? In what ways can an understanding of mental health literacy assist parents lead such conversations?

Picking the Right Time

The first step, in every case, is to pick the right time. Teens are naturally emotional, regardless of temperament or personality. There’s a lot going on during adolescence, and it can be difficult to unpack it all. Picking the right time to address your worries can help defuse a potentially difficult situation. That means waiting for a good day, avoiding ambushes, and maybe finding an opportunity to talk to your teen in private (in their room, while doing chores together at home, on the ride back from school, etc.).

Once you’ve found the right time, it’s important to pick the right conversation opener. Fumbling your opportunity to discuss your concerns can keep your kid on guard for the rest of the week or longer. No matter how conflicted you might feel, remember to focus on what’s important: your goal is to help your teen, not judge them.

Starting the Conversation

To start things off, research goes a long way. Learning about mental health issues on your own time, understanding mental health literacy, and speaking with mental health professionals can give you a better understanding of what your teen might be going through, and differentiate between regular teenage problems and the signs of a more serious mental health issue.

Approach the Topic Naturally and with Observations

If you feel that your teen is going through something they need help with, approaching the topic naturally is important. Begin with observations. Obviously, you’ve noticed something. Bring up what you’ve noticed, and why it concerns you. Then, listen.

Some teens might feel relieved that their parents picked up on what’s going on. Others might be worried that they’re being judged or alienated from the rest of the family. It’s important to make sure your teen understands that your concern for them comes from a place of love and inclusion, and that they’re free to say what’s truly on their mind.

Don’t be Afraid to Say Something

If you’ve done prior research, don’t be afraid to bring it up. You don’t need to help confirm your teen’s self-diagnosis or make a judgment call of your own – diagnostic work is best left to experienced psychiatrists. But showing that you’ve moved on from concern to action might help your teen realize that you’re invested in helping them, and want to understand how they feel. It can be comforting to know that you’re open-minded and on their side.

Learning to Listen

There are important dos and don’ts to keep the conversation going once your teen is open to discussing how they feel with you. These include:

  • DO give your teen the time to finish their sentences, and don’t interrupt or stop them.
  • DO normalize how they feel, letting them know that you’ve read about many other teens feeling the same way and that there are ways to get help.
  • DO keep their information confidential – if your teen has only told you, don’t go on discussing it with other members of the family without first bringing it up with your teen, let alone a mental health professional (unless their situation and behavior are life-threatening).
  • DO acknowledge your own fear and anxieties in these situations. It doesn’t help to bottle your feelings up because you’re scared of affecting your teen.
  • DO continue to learn about what your teen is going through, even after they’ve started therapy (especially after they’ve started therapy!).
  • DON’T minimize how they feel or tell them that they “shouldn’t feel this way”, or that you “know exactly” how they feel without having previously been diagnosed with the same condition and the same circumstances.
  • DON’T feed excuses or blame other people. It’s always tempting to find something to blame, but no case of a mental disorder can be squarely blamed on a single factor. It’s almost always a convalescence of complex internal and external factors, melding together in an unfortunate way. Instead of directing your anger at something, use it to help your teen get better.
  • DON’T compare your teen to their siblings or ask them why they couldn’t have been more like your other kids.

Mental Health Literacy: Recognizing Mental Health Issues

Teen temperament can feel disjointed or confusing, so it’s important to separate “normal” teen behavior from potential red flags for a mental health issue. Some things to keep in mind include:

Is it Consistent?

Consistency is important. If your teen’s mood has been consistently low for several weeks now, chances are it’s more than just a rough patch for them. Conditions like depression can affect the way we perceive things around us, actively inhibiting the ability to feel joy or pleasure.

If your teen hasn’t talked about their favorite hobbies in weeks, hasn’t hung out with friends in a while, and generally hasn’t laughed or been in a good mood for a noticeable period, they may be going through more than just a period of grief.

Has Academic Performance Changed?

Academic performance may be a helpful metric but shouldn’t be the absolute focus here. How well your teen is retaining information and focusing on their studies can be affected by the onset and growth of a mental health issue, but there are dozens of other factors that can affect a teen’s grades without necessarily affecting their mental health.

Furthermore, while your teen’s grades might be important to you (and them!), focusing on them might make your teen feel that your priorities are misplaced (i.e., putting their grades above the way they feel).

Nervous vs. Anxious

Nervousness is one thing, especially if your teen has been rather skittish since early childhood. But anxiety symptoms are something else. If your teen seems constantly worried about the same things, is having trouble concentrating or focusing on anything, easily loses their cool, and struggles to perform under pressure – whether it’s during a driving lesson or a breakdown during school exams – they may be overly sensitive to their surrounding stressors, or worse.

Anxiety disorders are the most common kind of mental health issue worldwide, ranging from complex disorders like OCD to a generalized feeling of worry and dread that affects a person’s mood, personality, and behavior on a daily basis.

Susceptibility to Addictive Behavior and Long-Term Substance Abuse

Teens are smart, often smarter than we might give them credit for. But they still make mistakes, lack experience, and are usually more short-sighted than adults through no fault of their own. This is part of the reason why teens are more susceptible to addictive behavior, and why early onset of addiction usually predicts long-term or life-long substance abuse.

If you suspect that your teen is struggling due to an ongoing substance problem – whether it’s frequent drinking binges with friends or sharing prescription pills at school – keep an eye out for some of the more obvious signs, including hidden stashes, physical symptoms (bloodshot eyes, constantly tired, slurred speech, frequent hangovers), and mental symptoms (irritability, memory problems, altered behavior, becoming defensive).

Issues with Eating

Eating disorders also disproportionately affect adolescents and are some of the most dangerous mental health disorders we know of. Signs of an eating disorder include constant cycles of self-deprecation and shame, followed by binge eating, signs of binge eating such as wrappers and hidden stashes of food, frequent bathroom breaks between and during meals, diuretic or laxative drugs, and calluses on the index knuckle from induced vomiting.

When Is Professional Help Needed?

In general, the moment you no longer know how to help your teen is the moment you should consider approaching a mental health professional for help – even if it isn’t to schedule an appointment for your child or figure out an intervention. Mental health professionals also work to assist parents in understanding what might be going on in their teen’s lives, and helping them navigate their way around a conversation with their child.

If your teen approaches you about therapy, then they’ve thought it over and likely made the decision to seek help – with your assistance. Work with them to find a mental health professional they are comfortable with. First and foremost, their comfort is paramount. Trust is an important aspect of therapy, and teens will be unlikely to get the help they need if they cannot set up a strong bond with their therapist.

If your teen is struggling with a mental health issue, reach out to Visions Treatment Centers. Let’s start the conversation together.

Exit mobile version