10 tips for parents who are struggling to care for a teen in emotional crisis

Parents face many struggles when their teens are going through an emotional crisis. They often experience their own mental health challenges, with rates of anxiety and depression comparable to those of their teen children.

A teen’s emotional and behavioral challenges can exacerbate parents’ feelings of guilt, shame, and frustration, particularly if they perceive these challenges as failures in parenting rather than mental health issues. This can lead to relationship tensions, especially if parents disagree on how to support their teen, affecting not just the parent-parent relationship but also the dynamics within the entire family.

Financial strain and work challenges are additional burdens, as parents may need to allocate resources for therapy or take time off work to support their teen. The emotional toll of watching their child struggle, coupled with the frustration of not seeing immediate improvements despite significant efforts, can lead to feelings of helplessness and burnout.

Your feelings matter. Your mental health is vital, too.

Here are some tips for parents to take care of themselves and maintain family cohesion while their teen is going through an emotional crisis:

Prioritize Your Own Mental Health: Recognize that your well-being is crucial for supporting your teen. Seek support from mental health professionals, community agencies, or support groups.

Open Communication: Normalize discussions about mental health within the family. Model this behavior by talking about your own struggles and coping strategies.

Create a Supportive Environment: Foster a home atmosphere where everyone feels safe to express their emotions and concerns. This can reduce stress for the whole family.

Ask for and Accept Help: Don’t hesitate to reach out for assistance from family members, friends, or community resources. Accepting help can alleviate some of the burdens.

Educate Yourself: Learn about the teenage brain and mental health issues to better understand what your teen is going through and how to support them.

Maintain Routine and Boundaries: Keep a consistent routine and clear boundaries within the family. This provides a sense of stability and security for everyone.

Take Time for Self-Care: Engage in activities that help you relax and recharge. Self-care is not selfish; it’s necessary to maintain your ability to care for others.

Stay Connected: Maintain relationships with friends and loved ones. Social connections can provide emotional support and practical assistance.

Be Patient: Understand that progress may be slow and that setbacks can happen. Patience is key in navigating the ups and downs of a teen’s emotional crisis.

Focus on the Positive: Celebrate small victories and positive moments. This can help maintain hope and perspective during challenging times.

By implementing these strategies, parents can better manage their own stress and maintain a supportive environment for their teen and the entire family during an emotional crisis.