Adolescence is a developmental period during which children develop into adults and gain independence. Many parents feel that adolescents are more difficult to cope with than they were as children. In this period parents are distressed and face new challenges, sometimes leading to mental disorders.
What is happening in adolescence?
Adolescents must develop from a child into an adult in a relatively short amount of time. During this time they face physical, emotional, social, and intellectual changes that affect their everyday lives. As a result, they may become more vulnerable to distress or mental disorders.
During this period of developing emotional independence, the role of parents and friends is changed.
Friends become important for everyday socializing, but parents remain an important point of reference when making important decisions.
Adolescent coping with stressful situations
Adolescents often feel that the problems they are facing only affect them and that they must be able to deal with them on their own. In such moments social support and awareness about expressing emotions are crucial.
When we talk with an adolescent in distress …
… let us take time to listen to them. We should try to understand their view on the situation and the emotions they are experiencing. If we superficially judge and neglect their emotions, adolescents can feel rejected and misunderstood, causing distress. It is important to talk to them about this distress. This way we show them that talking about subjective experiences is appropriate and acceptable and that we should not be ashamed of our mental distress. All of these messages are important for an adolescent.
Suicidal thoughts of adolescents …
… can be a way of thinking about the meaning of life and death that is typical for this age. However, the risk for suicidal behaviour increases when suicidal thoughts represent a way of solving problems or releasing emotional distress for an adolescent.
We should always ask about suicidal thoughts and talk about the reasons for them!