Improving Teenage Mental Health How Grandparents can play a Vital Role
June 17, 2019
July is teenage mental health month and for good reason. The rates of teenagers being diagnosed with mental health problems have risen alarmingly over the years indicating that young people are suffering from increased stress due to many environmental factors, peer pressure, and societal expectations. As grandparents who have lived and learned, seniors play a vital role in providing a sense of comfort and support to teenagers working through many different changes occurring during that time in their lives.
Let’s face it, at age sixteen the most important things in life (for most teenagers) are friends, outside appearances, not missing out, and driving. Parents usually end up being at the bottom of the priority list, let alone grandparents. One aspect of developing healthy mental health in the teenage years is to feel loved. Parents and grandparents have a crucial role in maintaining as much good communication and openness with these young adults as possible and always let them know how much they are loved and accepted. Here are some other habits that can be incorporated into grand parenting to improve the mental health of your teenagers:
Go outside. Taking time to be outdoors can do a lot for mental health. Escaping the hustle and bustle of everyday life can help the mind to calm, relax, and think more clearly. Those who spend consistent time outdoors can handle stress better.
Travel and vacation together. Parents may not be able to leave work for vacations and travel, but as a retired grandparent, you may be able to provide travel experiences that the parents can’t afford- whether it be for time or money. Teenagers can be the best travel buddies and it is vital for them to learn about other cultures and different ways of living during the teenage years.
Bond. Take time to talk, listen and reminisce with one another. Look at old photos of the family, share stories, and ask each other lots of questions about life and outlook.
Provide relaxation time. If your grandchild has experienced a stressful day or busy week, provide a place for relaxation. Let your teenage grandchild pick out a movie for you to watch together or take a quiet walk together.
Get creative. One of the best ways to get to know one another and connect is to be creative together. Share a practical hobby like gardening. Or think of one hobby you have always loved and teach that to your grandchild. Getting creative while sharing practical life skills can be one of the greatest gifts you can give to a young person. When young people develop practical life skills early, the risk of poor mental health is decreased.
Just because your teenage grandchild is growing up and their friends seem way cooler than their parents or grandparents doesn’t mean you have to step aside until they reach the adult years. There are still plenty of good times to be had if you know how to connect. Your role as grandparent can make the whole difference in a world when friends grow up and move on – you will still be there for support, stability, acceptance and love through the good and bad.