Intermountain Primary Children’s Hospital has launched an emotional wellbeing component to the Hold On To Dear Life safety and injury prevention public service campaign.
The campaign will help young teens deal with the challenges that they face during their early teenage years. Hold On To Dear Life is celebrating their 30th year as an award-winning safety campaign in 2020.
Here’s how you can help be there for the emotional wellbeing of your young teenager:
Talking to young teens
Data shows that Utah kids are struggling as they transition into the teenage years. They want trusted, informed help and they are most likely to seek that from a parent. The Hold On To Dear Life’s new emotional wellbeing component provides education to parents, available in English and in Spanish, to help them enhance their parenting skills, begin conversations with their tweens, and nurture them as they grow into adulthood. It is made possible with support from Kohl’s.
“As adults, we know the middle school years can be tough ones. Young people are experiencing many changes physically, emotionally, and socially. Sometimes parents feel a bit at a loss on how to best help navigate these years with their tweens,” said Jessica Strong, community health manager at Primary Children’s Hospital. “The goal of the Emotional Wellbeing campaign is to give parents action-oriented tools they can use to promote mental, emotional, and social health within their family.”
Three main ways to help teens are to identify, accept and validate their emotional experiences.
It can be hard for kids to fully explain what they need – physically and emotionally. As parents, we need to look for clues in their languages to potentially find an avenue to help them.
If you see your teen experiencing an emotion, use this opportunity to help them name and accept this feeling. This may require some patience and you can use a feelings card to help them pinpoint the emotions they are experiencing.
Although you may be tempted to provide the answer to what they are feeling, you need to allow the child to help define their own feelings. Your role should be to listen uninterrupted and offer suggestions if they get stuck identifying their emotion.
“Talking about emotional health may be an uncomfortable topic for some, but starting small and having frequent conversations will build confidence for parents and tweens alike,” Strong said. “Parents have coached their children through learning the skills to walk, ride a bike or tie their shoes. Mental and emotional health is a similar process of teaching, encouraging, and practicing skills.”
It’s hard when children are going through uncomfortable feelings. As parents, we may be tempted to help rush them through the feeling or try to shield them. But it’s actually important to allow them to sit with the feeling to help better prepare them for the next time the feeling occurs.
Accepting feelings and understanding that all feelings are valuable and have a role, will help children to accept emotions as natural. Accepting that all feelings have purpose is the first step to managing their effect.
Validation means acknowledging another person’s experience and feelings without judgment. Validating a teenager’s experience doesn’t mean you always have to agree with their point of view. Helping the tween feel heard and understood will help create an open dialogue.
You could share your own experiences, while not trying to change or fix what they are feeling. In the end, it’s about creating a safe space for them to open up about their emotions, to unburden their mind, and to be supportive as they figure out their next step.
Primary Children’s Hospital has more Hold On To Dear Life emotional wellbeing tips, information and resources available at TalkToTweens.com.