We’ve put a lot of time building a 12-page booklet with some of our most important topics. Fill in the form, and we’ll get you “What is new in your kid’s world?” right away!
Twelve pages of our best content!
We’ve put a lot of time building a 12-page booklet with some of our most important topics. Fill in the form, and we’ll get you “What is new in your kid’s world?” right away!
Twelve pages of our best content!
Chances are you’ve already seen your local news outlets covering a large number of people ending up in the hospital because of vaping.
Vaping consists of the user inhaling and exhaling “vapor,” which is actually aerosol, as well as substances like nicotine, according to the Center on Addiction. Vaping is your kid’s generation’s version of experimenting with cigarettes. It seems to them like a lot of people are doing it, but like smoking cigarettes, it can be harmful to their well-being.
How would you know if your kid is vaping? The American Lung Association says nosebleeds and increased thirst are two signs your child might be vaping.
If you want to learn more about vaping, the American Lung Association website has guides for learning about and talking to your kid about vaping.
In addition to nicotine, kids might also be vaping THC (tetrahydrocannabinol), the chemical in marijuana that causes you to get high. Kids can just as easily put a THC cartridge in the same vape they would use for nicotine. (You can read more about THC here.)
Marijuana is recreationally legal in only a few states, but that doesn’t mean these cartridges are difficult to get in a state where it’s illegal. Odds are your kid knows someone who knows someone who has access to marijuana or THC cartridges.
The CDC has named Vitamin E acetate as a “chemical of concern” in vaping products related to the recent string of deaths. It is used as an additive and a thickening agent in some black market THC products. Vitamin E acetate is usually harmless in the form of a supplement or when it is applied to the skin, according to the CDC, but when it is inhaled, it can disrupt lung function.
As of Nov. 13, about 2,200 cases of e-cigarette or vaping product use associated lung injuries (EVALI) have been reported, including all states besides Alaska and including Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands (source: CDC). The ages of the patients ranged from 17 to 79 with a median age of 52, so young smokers are not the only ones being affected.
The CDC documented symptoms that these EVALI patients came in with, many of which are similar to flu symptoms.
The look of vapes can vary, so it can be difficult to tell if your teen is vaping nicotine or THC. A USA Today article said narrower cylinder vials are more likely to contain THC, while wider and larger ones generally have nicotine. THC oil is thick and wouldn’t seem to move in the cartridge if turned upside down. Nicotine would move more easily. You can purchase home drug tests for the vials, but they will tell you only the contents, not the percentage of substance. Some THC cartridges have been found to have as much as 80% pure THC. For reference, the joints from the 1960’s had about 1-2% THC.
The CDC is working on that. A cartridge with Vitamin E acetate is a cartridge that has been tainted.
When people buy cartridges from someone other than a dispensary, they don’t know what they’re getting. They won’t know what’s been added. Keep in mind, a few states have allowed full legalization of marijuana, so the market for cheap goods is in high demand. And that’s where problems come in.
Dealers on the street aren’t reliable. They can’t always get users exactly what they asked for. Also, some cartridges will have additives to make them last longer – like the Vitamin E acetate – and some might even have other unknown substances. They might seem cheap, especially to young people, especially in comparison to legal products that can only be used in certain states by those age 21 and up, but at what cost?
Numerous newspapers have reported that health officials have found Vitamin E acetate in some products by Dank Vapes, TKO, Off White, Moon Rocks, Chronic Carts and West Coast Carts. This doesn’t mean every cartridge by these brands will have the chemical, but of those cartridges associated with EVALI patients, these brands came up.
Here’s how you can spot a fake vape cartridge.
If your child starts to experience any symptoms related to EVALI, bring them to the doctor, along with the vape.
The CDC warned that other chemicals could be contributing to this outbreak, but for right now, Vitamin E acetate is the only known culprit.
By: Megan Donny
Every day, children access a wide variety of media platforms that are filled with advertisements through their phones, tablets and laptops.
Food and beverage advertisements have been found to be the most viewed on apps such as YouTube and Snapchat.
A Canadian study found that children view over 100 advertisements for food each week on apps such as Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, Twitter and YouTube.
These advertisements are specifically targeting younger viewers who have low impulse control and low healthy dieting behaviors.
Social media has made it so much easier for marketers to target consumers. They can use digital tools like location settings, preferences and past purchasing data to more accurately grab the consumer’s attention.
According to a study done at the University of Michigan, when children view these frequent, and sometimes persistent food advertisements, it makes them desire the reward of food.
In the study, it shows that when adolescents see unhealthy food commercials, it activates the reward centers of the brain. This then causes the child to want to seek out any type of food related to what they saw in the advertisement.
While it’s practically impossible to completely remove all types of advertisements from your child’s life, there are ways to prevent food advertisements from appearing on their screens.
Streaming services like Netflix and Amazon Prime don’t rely on advertisements for revenue and your kids will not be exposed to any type of advertisements on these apps.
Also through the settings section in apps like Instagram, you can see the advertisements that have been shown to your children as well as learn about what to do if you see an ad you wish to hide. Many of these also have parental control options.
Websites like Common Sense Media can help parents learn about the different apps and streaming services their children use as well.
Here at 2020 Parenting, we’ve touched a lot on streaming services, and how they’ve changed the way kids today consume television shows and movies.
By now, most parents are probably familiar with the major streaming services like Netflix, Hulu and Amazon Prime Video. They’re probably also familiar with the streaming process as a whole. And how unlike cable, streaming service customers can handpick which content they want to watch when they want it.
For better or for worse, the already-crowded industry is about to get one more competitor – one that has the potential power to change the future of streaming forever and knock out cable television, as well as its other streaming competitors, for good.
Parents, I present you, Disney+.
Although Disney+ has been in the works for a little over two years, the new streaming service is set to launch on Nov. 12.
Like most of the major streaming services today, Disney+ subscribers will be able to stream using Roku, Apple and Android devices, in addition to being able to steam using gaming consoles like the Xbox One and PlayStation 4.
For $6.99 per month, or $69.99 a year, Disney+ customers will have access to an overwhelming amount of Disney-created and Disney-purchased content.
Unlike Netflix’s non-premium tier, Disney+ allows subscribers to stream to four devices simultaneously and have access to 4K content for no additional cost.
While most expect that the service will eventually increase their price, Disney has also said they will eventually offer a Disney+, Hulu and ESPN+ for $13 a month, the same price as Netflix.
While it’s hard to fully understand how much is currently owned and underneath the Disney umbrella, the graphic below can help break it down for you.
The main content featured in Disney+’s pitch is Disney content itself, (animated and live-action films, and television shows), Pixar Films, the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU), Star Wars and National Geographic.
It will also feature Fox’s content such as the “X-Men” series, all 30 seasons of “The Simpsons” and “The Sound of Music.” It will also have classic Disney Vault films such as “The Fox and the Hound” and “Bambi,” and will continue to add new films not too long after they appear in theaters. Think, “Captain Marvel” and the new live-action version of “Aladdin.”
However, maybe the biggest appeal to life-long Disney fans, is the exclusive Disney+ Originals set to debut with the service next month. Some titles already released include: “Star Wars: The Mandalorian,” Marvel’s “Hero Project” and “High School Musical: The Musical: The Series.” These hyped-up exclusives will surely excite some kids.
In all honesty, Disney+ was built on the concept of nostalgia and recreating your childhood. If you grew up with Disney as a kid, check out this short trailer and tell me you don’t feel something?
Personally, I grew up watching the Disney Channel and its films. Disney was constantly on in our house. Watching that trailer gave me the chills – even though today I prefer sports over animated series and films.
According to JP Morgan, this nostalgia will lead Disney+ to quickly rivaling, and eventually even passing, Netflix’s 139 million subscriber count. JP Morgan is predicting Disney will get to 160 million subscribers fast.
While this is partially because of the attractiveness of Disney+’s model, it is also because Disney plans on removing all of its’ content from rival streaming services like Netflix.
Oh, and did I mention that Disney+ is going to allow users to download all of its’ available content for no additional charge. This means no matter where you are – even when you’re without Wi-Fi, you could be enjoying Disney content.
While the launch of Disney+ could very well lead to even more kid streaming, some of the best news for parents is that the service will have parental controls. The website Deseret details some of this.
Because there will adult content like the “The Simpsons” on the service, Disney+ will encourage a little bit of peace of mind to parents by allowing them to block some content. (Though, how hard is it for a tween to get that password?)
In the end I think this is going to be a positive development for parents. You can get all of that wonderful Disney content all in one place, and if you don’t need much other television, you can get it all for one low price.
But don’t forget, folks. It’s still screen time. Monitor that closely and set boundaries to how much time your kid spends in front of a screen.
Until next time – here’s to keeping that Disney magic alive!
Other useful links:
A while ago, I posted a blog about how the ESRB can help you make better decisions about games your kids. However, I failed to look into how they actually rate their games. It turns out, the ESRB does not actually play the games. Instead they watch a trailer of the game produced by the video game maker. Per the ESRB’s official page, it must be “a video showing typical gameplay, missions, and cutscenes, including the most ‘extreme’ content. Unplayable content (i.e., ‘locked out’), if it is pertinent to a rating, must also be disclosed.”
Why is this important?
Because I think, based on the ESRB’s own review procedures, developers might slide features like gambling and pay-to-win loot boxes past the reviewers’ eyes. I’m not saying every game developer does this, but that doesn’t mean they won’t.
I think it’s a problem when raters don’t actually play the game. Recently, some games have been called out for having predatory practices towards a younger audience. NBA 2K20 revealed gambling style mini-game complete with roulette and slot machines to win certain items in-game through a trailer prior to release.
This game was rated E for Everyone.
If children play this game and have access to a credit card, they can spend real-world money to gamble for items with in-game currency. While this may come down to a parent’s decision, I wanted to bring this to your attention. You may want to be even more careful about what games your kid plays than just relying on the ESRB rating.
Personally,I don’t think gambling should be allowed at all. It has no place in a game that allows real-world money to be used. And I think any game that is rated “E for Everyone” should not require parental oversight.
If you would like to read more about how the ESRB reviews their games you can read their FAQ page here: https://www.esrb.org/faqs/#do-esrb-raters-play-the-games-they-rate
For a more in-depth look at why loot boxes are so addicting, check out this video here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Xu6pXCxiRxU
The problem of bullying in schools stretches across generations, and though there are new media through which kids can now bully their peers, bullying itself is nothing new.
A study from Florida Atlantic University suggests that how parents interact with their child at home might have a lot to do with the way their child then treats their classmates. You probably know that mean parents lead to mean kids, but just how mean do they have to be to make an impact?
This study says it can be as small as just belittling or not praising your kid.
We know parenting isn’t easy. That’s why we’ve built this blog about how your kid’s world is different from the one you grew up in. But this study says to take a hard look at how you’re interacting with your child. Are you telling them you’re proud of them even for small accomplishments? Do you zone out when they’re talking about their interests, or are you actively listening?
If they feel frustrated by some of their interactions at home, they might go to school and take it out on other students since they can’t say anything to you. How bad is bullying in today’s schools?
Name-calling and teasing are the most common. Maybe not surprising, these are also two of the types of bullying that can occur at home.
Unfortunately, it’s all too easy to tease your own kid. Maybe it feels like you’re teasing yourself. You probably share characteristics. Do you feel like you’re too short, have big ears, or can’t do math? Maybe you’re just repeating what you’ve heard before.
Or maybe you think your comments are harmless, but your kid sees them as serious: “You missed a couple goals today in the game. Maybe we should be paying more attention at practice instead of talking with our friends the whole time.” Or “You spend a lot of time in your room. Try socializing with the rest of the family every once in a while.”
Each kid is different, and just because they came from you doesn’t mean they think exactly like you. Heck, they’re not even your age. If you’re going to poke fun at them (every great once in a while), make sure it’s lighthearted and not hurtful. Watch their reaction. Make it obvious you don’t mind if they tease you back. There is a fine line between mutual teasing and one-sided, being-picked-on.
Regrettably, the study suggests if kids are teased daily, they transfer that behavior into other areas of their lives. If it’s acceptable at home, then it’s acceptable at school or practice, right?
And I have to point out: kids can’t lash out at their parents every time they feel they’ve been insulted or belittled. It’s obviously easier to take it out on kids their own age.
I don’t know a clear path to stopping bullying but understanding some of the risk factors that go into it must help. If parents are name-calling and teasing their kids, and these are the number one and number two most frequent ways kids are getting bullied at school…? There has to be a connection.
I suggest talking to your kids the same way you want them talking to their peers. Ask yourself: Is what I’m about to say going to make the other person feel bad? If my parent said this to me when I was a kid, would I be hurt?
And ask them for feedback. Let them know that they can tell you if you’ve gone too far. Did they take that as the joke you intended, or did you offend them. Meanwhile, tell them if they’ve gone too far. You’re training them in conversation and human relations. Make sure they know how to communicate effectively – and nicely.
By Megan Donny
“Easy” and “affordable.”
Those are the two words you see when you open any of the multiple websites that offer online birth control prescriptions.
While this method of obtaining birth control may be helpful for women trying to renew their previous prescriptions, it’s also an easy way for young tweens to bypass a doctor’s trip to obtain a prescription.
Websites like “The Pill Club” and “Nurx” offer first-time birth control prescriptions to women as young as 13 years old. Girls under 18 do not need parental approval to get a birth control prescription.
These websites offer birth control options such as the pill, the ring and the patch. They also offer emergency contraception pills and at home HIV and HPV screening tests.
The process for obtaining a prescription is simple: you provide information about yourself, select the kind of medication you want, a doctor reviews your request, fills the prescription, and your new medication gets mailed right to you.
It is very easy to bypass questions in the process that are important, like if you’ve had your blood pressure measured in the last 6 months and the current medications you may be on. However, if you don’t answer the questions as accurately as possible, you may be prescribed a medication that negativily affects your health.
Insurance information is not required to obtain a prescription from these websites. Nurx, one of the most popular online contraceptive websites, says that you will pay as little as $15 without insurance.
Many young women dread telling their parents when they have become sexually active. The process can be awkward for both the child and parent. But it is necessary for the child to know the dangers that come with sexual activity.
Online birth control websites give young women the opportunity to skip the awkward talk and get a prescription without their parent’s knowledge.
The problem with getting birth control online for a first-time prescription is that many young women do not get informed about different methods of birth control and the side effects that may occur.
Some medications can affect young women suffering from mental and physical health problems. It is very important for anyone considering filling an online prescription for birth control to get well-informed.
As your kid heads back to school this year with their new blue jeans and Nikes, they may also be taking two new apps along with them.
One is “TikTok,” a popular short-form video sharing app that is currently #1 on the Apple App Store. The other is “YOLO,” a new anonymous question and answer app students can use as a plug-in with Snapchat. It is #18 on the app store.
While these apps might help your kid pass time on their bus ride home or during lunch, there are also some real dangers that parents need to be aware of.
TikTok is a social media service that is designed to let users watch, create and share videos. Often times these videos are filled with today’s top music hits, which users have access to for free.
Originally known as “musical.ly,” before that app merged with TikTok in August 2018, this social media channel combines several key concepts from other popular apps.
It has the feel of “Vine,” a former, popular video sharing service that was known for its hilarious 6-second videos. But unfortunately, due to a lack of revenue, Twitter shut down Vine in January 2017.
When I was a tween myself, Vine was insanely popular for a summer. While I didn’t have a smart phone at the time, all my friends were using it. And from what I remember of the app, it was mostly filled with people doing dumb stunts in order to get likes.
TikTok uses the same rabbit-hole tactic that YouTube uses to hook young users. It pre-loads the next video to keep you from leaving the app.
But just like any social media, the real concern is the amount of private information your kid could be sharing with the world. TikTok makes it easy to share too much information with strangers. In fact, by default, TikTok accounts are set to public, which allows ANYONE to see your videos and location information, and it allows anyone to direct message you.
To learn how to change your kid’s TikTok settings to private, check out this short video. It literally only takes a minute. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YgrGwn60yyE
By the way, TikTok had to make a settlement with the Federal Trade Commission this year for illegally obtaining children’s personal information. In response, the app created a section just for children. https://www.ftc.gov/news-events/press-releases/2019/02/video-social-networking-app-musically-agrees-settle-ftc However, this can easily be bypassed by providing a false birth date.
Of course, the other major issue with this app is the content kids are watching. Because popular music has a large amount of foul and sexualized language today, your kid might be exposing themselves to this language as well as watching people dance in suggestive ways. Maybe you’re not ready for your kid to watch this.
When I was growing up, the acronym “YOLO” became popular. It meant “You Only Live Once”. Pretty tame, I guess, but the app is potentially more dangerous, I think.
The app YOLO encourages users to “get anonymous answers” as soon as they are logged into the app. You can either create your own question to ask, or use the “dice” that will prompt a pre-made question. The app then encourages you to post the answers on your Snapchat story.
I have seen a lot of people say some fairly inappropriate things to others using this app. My big concern is cyber bullying. The app is popular enough that a lot of kids could be targeted by these anonymous comments.
According to, the Pew Research Center (https://www.pewinternet.org/2018/09/27/a-majority-of-teens-have-experienced-some-form-of-cyberbullying/), last year at this time, more than 59 percent of teens said they experienced some sort of cyber bullying.
Former anonymous social media apps, like “Ask.FM,” “Sarahah” and “YikYak,” created social havoc in my high school, in my opinion. There was such an outcry that a letter was sent home to parents asking them to get their children to stop using these apps. If I remember correctly, iTunes and the Google Play store actually kicked off Sarahah from their platforms in 2018, after they received enormous amounts of backlash because of cyber bullying. https://www.bbc.com/news/blogs-trending-43174619
Ironically, I believe tweens use these anonymous social media apps so they can get acceptance from their peers. However, they often get the inverse.
I think it’s crucial that kids grow up slowly with these apps. You will want to have a serious conversation with your kid about these apps. Sharing personal information and getting caught up in cyber bullying are just two of the issues you should discuss. Try some of our links if you want to learn more.
More helpful Links:
In today’s always connected world, we have the means to contact other people with the click of a button. But though we may be more connected than ever, it doesn’t mean feelings of isolation are gone. For kids growing up in the modern “Internet Age”, isolation may even be worse.
Unfortunately, a recent study at the University of Pittsburgh in 2017 confirmed this. It found that young adults who are the most frequent users of social media experience more social isolation compared to those who use it the least. The authors believe this may be due to a variety of factors. These include viewing friends online having fun and not being invited, seeing people doing things that seem fun and sparking feelings of envy, and spending more time online than having real life experiences. All of these, they speculate, contribute to feelings of isolation.
As children grow up today, I think this “social isolation phenomenon” is something to watch out for. Maybe particularly during the tumultuous time of adolescence. Kids are more susceptible to feelings of being left out when their friends are doing things together without them.
One source says that the effects of social isolation are very negative. They include less restful sleep, an increased stress response by the body, more alcohol and drug use, and even a greater risk of suicide.
I remember feeling socially isolated at times when I was in middle school and high school. My friends would post what they were doing on Facebook (which had just started getting widely popular) and I would see how happy they seemed. To teenage me, it was disheartening to see people having fun without me. Sometimes they were meeting up with my friends in real life I’d have to hear or see the stories later.
I’m old enough that this was before Instagram, Twitter, or Snapchat blew up. Imagine how your teen might feel today with all of these social media outlets at their disposal. They might see their friends having fun. Maybe they’ll see other people doing an activity they wanted to do.
One source suggests five things parents can do about this. One is to encourage volunteering. This improves mental health and can be very pleasurable. Does your kid like animals? Or small children? Can they help out at an aging facility? The possibilities are endless.
Also, make exercise a priority. We all know about endorphins and how they help our mood. Don’t just rely on physical ed at school, or team sports. Encourage them to hike with you, or take a family bike ride. Again, the possibilities are endless.
Third, schedule some “off screen” time. Eat a family meal with no phones allowed. Watch a show together. Maybe game with your kid (without the head set).
Also, get them outside. Nature has lots of good effects on our mood and mental health. And finally, talk to your kid. Have repeated meaningful conversations about their friends, about life, and about their mental health. What are they thinking and feeling? Learn how to be patient and helpful, not judgmental or authoritative.
The Internet is a wonderful tool to help connect with others, but it has the potential to make us feel bad also. Parents, try to help your child understand that social media interactions are not the only interactions they can have. And that seeing other people having fun doesn’t mean you’ve been left out. You’ll have that fun when you see them next time.
We have numerous posts that talk about activities you could do with your kids, as well as what you should do to protect your child online. Check out our links below.
by Megan Donny
“Go back upstairs and change.”
My father said those words to me about 5 minutes before I had to leave for my first high school dance.
Despite my anger, I retreated to my bedroom where I changed into a less revealing dress for the dance.
Hearing your own father chastise your fashion choices as a teenage girl with a fragile self-esteem was a devastating experience for me.
Parents tend to restrict what their young daughters wear in order to avoid drawing unwanted attention to themselves and their children. While parents almost always have their children’s well-being in mind, at times they can step over the line.
For the last year, I’ve worked at a popular girls clothing store and have watched parents tell their children what they can and cannot try on.
While it is understandable that a parent doesn’t want their children wearing items they don’t deem to be appropriate, some parents don’t understand why their daughters are dressing the way they do.
Most middle school and even high school girls aren’t dressing scantily because they are seeking male attention. They dress in the clothing marketed to them by every clothing store with a teenage demographic.
When parents don’t have an open and honest discussion with their children about why they do not want them dressing a certain way, the children usually end up feeling angry or insecure about themselves or their bodies.
When I was told I could not wear the dress I had picked out for the school dance, I felt as if my father did it just to spite me. He never explained to me why he believed I shouldn’t wear it to the dance. If he had told me he was worried about what other people might think of me and my family, we could’ve had a discussion that ended with me going to the dance feeling better because I would have known he had my best interests in mind.
By limiting what their children wear, parents are restricting their children’s self-expression and potentially leading their child to instead sneak around their parents when they don’t approve of their clothing.
Today, everyone’s lives are exposed like tabloids on social media. What a lot of young teenagers don’t understand is what they are seen wearing in pictures on Instagram, Snapchat and Facebook can affect how people think about them as well as their family.
When a teenager posts an OOTD (outfit of the day) picture of herself in a bikini, more people see the picture than she probably knows. One of her friends may see the photograph and then show it to her own mother, who will then make assumptions about how the mother of the girl in the bikini chooses to parent her daughter.
Parents try their best to avoid being perceived as having a careless or relaxed parenting style. Which is why social media has become every parent’s worst nightmare. Now that children can share as many photos of their clothing choices as they want, more parents are being criticized for letting their children wear what many stores are selling today.
By talking to your children about how social media can impact how people view them and their family today as well as in the future, hopefully they will choose to be more cautious about what they post online.
Approaching the subject on what you believe your daughter should or should not wear can be tricky, especially since most teenage girls are stubborn and have a very sensitive self-esteem. You don’t want to accidentally offend them by saying that they shouldn’t be wearing a certain article of clothing to school.
Parents.com author Kara Corridan discusses different ways to speak to your tween daughter on what she wears. She suggests speaking to your child about her clothing choices when she is “feeling relaxed and not in the spotlight.” This means the best time to talk isn’t when she is trying to pick out an outfit before school or when you are shopping. Instead, Corridan says to speak to your daughter when you are both spending some down-time at home.
Corridan also suggests having an open discussion with your child where you ask them questions about their style in a non-judgmental tone. Instead of shutting the conversation down with a few words like “go change,” ask them “why did you choose that outfit?” By understanding why your daughter chooses to dress in clothing you may object to, it will be easier to explain your concerns to her.
Author/educator Michelle Icard says that honesty is the best policy when it comes to talking about this subject with your daughter. She proposes telling your daughter that she is old enough to make her own choices and that she should know when her clothes may draw unwanted attention.
While this approach may not be best for every parent, some need to know when to let their daughter make her own choices and when to intervene. Sometimes it’s best to let your children make their own mistakes and learn from them. Teenage girls express themselves through fashion and they need to be able to experiment with new styles. How you choose to handle what they wear is up to you.
Parents, I’ll be honest with you. There have been quite a few times I’ve had to lock myself away in my room or run to the bathroom at school to cry out a problem.
Most of the time, the problem itself wasn’t a big deal. But small issues pile up until sometimes you feel an overwhelming wave of emotions crashing down on you.
Often I’ll have a week in which this seems to happen every other day.
And that worries me.
I’m aware of the current statistics of mental health-related issues in people my age. It’s not uncommon to come across a friend who’s in therapy (or should be) for depression or anxiety.
Every time I get to a place where I feel I might be getting into the “I need more help than just myself” territory, I take a step back and evaluate where I am, the severity of my problems, and how I can stop the panic mode.
I know I’m not the only one with that self-awareness. So that leads me to the latest news regarding your teen and their mental health.
A new study from the University of Rochester (June 2019) shows that kids who are able to describe their negative emotions have a better chance of warding off depression than those who struggle with verbalizing their feelings. (Depression in this case can mean depression-like symptoms after a stressful event or actual clinical depression later in life.)
Science Daily interviewed the lead author of the study, who said that thinking through your emotions can help you develop a plan to then overcome those emotions.
What this means is that communicating with your teen is key to their mental health. Not only will you have a better understanding of what’s going on in your child’s head, but you can actually help them be more mindful of their own thoughts and feelings.
Midterm exams. A big game. A rocky relationship. Friend drama. The list can go on and on.
The trick is finding the source of the negative emotions and dissecting how and why it made your kid feel bad.
Is she upset that her friend ignored her one text, or does she think that she and her friend are drifting apart? Is your son angry that he missed a goal that could’ve won the game, or is he feeling a lot of pressure to perform well on the field because his grades are slipping?
Is it overthinking? Are the negative emotions valid? Do they have too much on their plate?
Think of how much time you could save yourself if you analyzed every situation that stressed you out. You’d be golden.
It’s not an easily attainable goal, but it’s one we should all strive to have.
I’ve designated my mom as my go-to person for emotional issues. Sometimes she gets a very detailed text listing all the bad things that happened in my day that led to the bad mood I was in while writing the text. Sometimes I just share with her that I decided to skip coffee that morning because I knew I would have a busy morning and caffeine would only heighten my anxiety.
She sits on the phone with me when I need to talk out my problems out loud. She gives me advice to lessen my stress factors. And sometimes all I need is validation that the emotions I’m feeling about a situation aren’t completely moronic and childish.
What if you and your teen don’t have the kind of relationship in which you have heart-to-hearts every other day?
Offer anyway. It will always be in the back of their mind that mom or dad is there if they really need help.
Also, share your own experiences. It makes you relatable. Your kid can think of you more as a peer instead of an authority figure and in turn might be more open to opening up.
Encourage them to find their go-to person. If you know in your heart that there’s no way your teen is going to come to you with something like this, suggest that they consult with a good friend whenever they get stressed or overwhelmed.