Young people will be faced with varying levels of emotional distress daily, from minor irritations to high-stress situations. However, the pre-frontal cortex of the brain is not yet fully formed until a person reaches age twenty-five, at the earliest. As described by the University of Rochester Medical Center, this is the area of the brain that reigns one’s rational thought, impulsivity, executive planning, problem solving, and decision-making. Since the pre-frontal cortex of young people is underdeveloped, adolescents innately rely on the amygdala. The amygdala is the area of the brain that governs one’s emotions, impulsivity, emotional behavior, and motivation responsible for emotions. Hence, teenagers are inherently programmed to make decisions and react from an emotional standpoint, not a rational standpoint. It is never too early to cultivate good habits. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), life skills refer to the “abilities for adaptive and positive behavior that enable individuals to deal effectively with the demands and challenges of everyday life.” Help your child get a jumpstart on learning and honing the skills needed to lead a successful and fulfilling life through the following tips:
- Practice effective communication: Carve out time each day to engage in uninterrupted communication with your child. Initiate dialogue and conversations by asking open-ended questions about their day, world topics, or what they are learning in school. Consider what your child may want to discuss and empower them to express their thoughts and feelings in various contexts.
- Build self-esteem: Model being kind to yourself by avoiding self-criticism, treating yourself with respect, and allowing your child to see that you are making time for yourself to engage in activities that bring you joy.
- Develop empathy: Although empirical evidence suggests that it may be typical for young children to have selfish impulses due to brain immaturity, developing kindness and empathy toward others is an essential life skill. Provide opportunities for your child to recognize others’ needs and feelings (e.g., volunteering on community projects, giving to the less fortunate, showing appreciation for others, etc.).
- Focus on social skills: Adults and children alike must deal, collaborate, and negotiate with individuals of different backgrounds in various social and occupational settings. Youngsters should concentrate on the following essential interpersonal skills:
- Cultivating and nurturing friendships
- Teamwork and being a team player
- Negotiating skills and conflict resolution
- Conversational skills alongside active listening
- Managing differences in culture or race
Studies show that humans are happier when they have a strong social network that includes positive, long-term relationships.
- Continuously increase sense of responsibility: In doing simple tasks or daily chores independently (e.g., in young children getting dressed themselves, cleaning up their toys, etc., and in older children, cooking, washing dishes, and doing laundry, etc.) young people begin to feel increasingly capable, which can encourage self-directed initiative while simultaneously highlighting the value of contribution and hard work.
One of the many jobs of a parent is to help a child learn how to effectively navigate the challenges of adolescence. Nurture your child’s independence so they can mature into a successful, contributing member of society.
For Information and Support
Every family in need of mental health treatment must select a program that will best suit the needs of their family. When one member of a family struggles, it impacts everyone in the family unit. To maximize the benefits of treatment we work closely with the entire family to ensure that everyone is receiving the support they need through these difficult times. Seeking help is never easy, but you are not alone! If you or someone you know needs mental health treatment, we strongly encourage you to reach out for help as quickly as possible. It is not uncommon for many mental health difficulties to impact a person’s life, long term. Pursuing support at the beginning of one’s journey can put the individual in the best position to learn how to manage themselves in a healthy way so they can go on to live happy and fulfilling lives.
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