For Parents & Caregivers

Teen Line provides resources and information for parents and caregivers to understand and support teens’ mental health as well as promote overall well being. 

As parents and caregivers, it is important to understand that teens experience adult emotions without fully developed problem solving skills. This may explain why teens have higher rates of suicide attempts and death by suicide, why their first breakup/loss can be literally catastrophic, why they might be more likely to drive fast and behave recklessly, or why they do things sometimes when they obviously “know better.”

Most Common Questions.

Myths and Misconceptions

Parents & Caregivers Blog

Parents and Caregivers Common Questions:

Find here some of the most common questions parents & caregivers have, to help you understand why your teen acts the way they do, when to worry, and how to determine if their behavior is “typical” or worrisome. Do you have additional questions? Send us an email or visit our resources page. 

What are the most common warning signs of depression?
  • Sadness or hopelessness

  • Irritability or anger

  • Frequent crying or mood swings

  • Withdrawal from family or friends

  • No interest in activities previously enjoyed

  • Difficulty concentrating

  • Changes in eating and sleeping habits

  • Feelings of worthlessness

  • Lack of energy or motivation

  • Substance abuse

  • Anxiety

  • Self injury

Observe your teen’s behavior over a matter of days or weeks, rather than catastrophize over one day. Pay attention to how they are acting, how severe their behavior changes are, and if there are any recent losses or changes. Monitor your teen's warning signs for suicidal ideation (thinking about suicide). 

What are the most common suicide warning signs?
  • Talking or joking about attempting or dying by suicide

  • Saying things like, “I’d be better off dead,” “I wish I could disappear forever,” or “There’s no way out.”

  • Glamorizing death (“If I died, people might love me more”)

  • Writing stories and poems about death, dying, or suicide

  • Engaging in reckless behavior or having a lot of unexplained accidents

  • Giving away valued possessions

  • Writing a will or saying goodbye to friends/family

  • Investigating or talking about ways to kill themselves

What is self harm or self injury or NSSI?

Non suicidal self harm (NSSI) includes sticking objects into the skin, banging one’s head against hard surfaces, burning oneself, pulling out one’s hair, hitting oneself with hard objects, incessant picking at skin or scabs, intentionally keeping a wound from healing, ingesting poison or other harmful objects, and the purposeful breaking of bones in hands and feet. 

Doing harm to one’s self can be associated with mental health conditions such as major depressive disorder, PTSD, anxiety, conduct and behavioral disorders, eating disorders, schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, and autism spectrum disorder.​

Source: TopCounselingSchools.org

Why do teens self-harm?

Possible reasons include:

  • Coping strategy: Teens may engage in self-harm to cope with stress or traumatic events.

  • Control issues: Often teens who engage in self-injurious behavior feel a lack of control of other parts of their lives. 

  • Creating sensation: Sometimes traumatic experiences can leave someone feeling numb, which may lead one to try and feel something physically, leading to self-harm.

  • Emotional regulation: Self-harm might take focus off intense emotions that are overwhelming.

  • Punishment: A child growing up and being told they are deficient or defective may feel shame and punish themselves through self-harm.

If you have any additional questions please contact us. For additional resources, visit our Resources page and Blog, and to get involved and support Teen Line, visit our Get Involved page

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Myths and Misconceptions of Teens

Find here a list of the most common myths about teens and their behavior. Learn more about what you can do and how you can answer.

 
Myth: Being “depressed” & moody is part of being a teen.

True, but... Teens can be more emotional and temperamental than adults or younger kids, but that doesn’t mean that moodiness should be dismissed. Changes in behavior, sleep, eating, and withdrawal from usual activities over a consistent period of time can be warning signs of something more serious.

Myth: My teen doesn’t care what I think.

False. Even if they don’t show it, teens do usually look up to their parents or caregivers, and embrace many of their similar values.

Myth: My teen hates me because I’m stricter than other parents.

False. Even thought they balk against their limits, research has shown that teenagers who have clear rules and limits growing up often have less drug and alcohol problems, less driving accidents, and higher school achievement.

Teen Line Parents/Caregivers Blog

Find here our previous blogs about topics such as improving communication with your teen, suicide prevention and the perils of “overparenting.”  More content coming soon. Is there a topic you would like to see here? Contact us!