Helping your child through heartbreak
Do you remember your first heartbreak? The first time can be a difficult and emotional experience for anyone – as a parent, it can be especially challenging to watch your child go through the rollercoaster of emotions a heartbreak can bring.
The teenage years are already marked by natural changes in hormones. This is a time when children are developing their sense of self and figuring out who they are and what they want in life. The physical and psychological changes can lead to heightened emotions. As a result, relationships may take on a greater significance and the end of one can feel like a personal failure.
Be ready to support your child
Regence’s Clinical Director for Behavioral Health Andree Miceli encourages parents to talk to their kids when they’ve had their heart broken. “You can use it as an opportunity to show support and help them feel understood,” says Miceli. “Discussing heartbreak can also help children better understand their feelings and can give them a chance to process what happened so they become emotionally stronger and more resilient.”
Here are five tips for helping your kid get through a breakup.
- Validate their feelings. Resist the urge to minimize your child’s emotions. What they feel is real. Remind them that it’s OK to feel upset and that you’re there to help.
- Listen. It’s important to listen and be there for your child. Sometimes that means giving them a safe space so they can vent.
- Encourage healthy social media habits. It can be tempting share personal details about an ex online. Especially since cyberbullying remains a major issue with teens. Guide against posting something they can’t take back.
- Help them maintain their normal routine. Keeping regular schedules for eating, sleeping and other activities can help support their mental health.
- Spend time doing something fun. Give your child a break from the breakup and schedule some time to reconnect and refresh.
Know when to seek help
Breakups can be a big deal in our kids’ world, but how do we know when it’s a big deal for their mental health? Miceli recommends looking for common signs such as changes in eating habits, sleeping patterns, and/or moods; difficulty concentrating in school or other activities; withdrawing from friends and family; and showing aggressive of self-destructive behaviors.
If you notice any of these signs in your child, it may be time to seek help from your child’s pediatrician or a mental health professional. “This could be in the form of therapy, counseling or support groups,” says Miceli. “It’s also important to continue to offer support and encourage your child to talk about their feelings and express themselves in healthy ways.”
We’re here to help
Whether your child may need occasional emotional support or ongoing mental health care, we can help you find the behavioral health care option that’s right for them. In addition to our network of therapists, counselors and psychiatrists, you can find mental health resources and care options at regence.com.
If you’re experiencing a mental health emergency, dial 988 to reach the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline. The lifeline provides free, confidential, 24/7 support to anyone who’s depressed, needs to talk or is thinking about suicide.