Being a parent or a caretaker is highly rewarding, but it is certainly not easy. This is especially true when dealing with teenagers who decide to stop communicating. The truth is that many factors come into play when a child stops communicating. You may wonder: Is it merely teenage angst? Is it natural youthful rebellion against authority? Is it anxiety about bodily or hormonal changes that are all part of being a teenager? Yes, it could be those or any other number of factors. However, one factor that should not be ignored is the possibility that it reflects your child’s state of mental health.
Before we go any further, let’s all take a breath and remember what it was like to be a teenager. It’s a turbulent time. Many of us made bizarre and risky choices, and luckily we are in a place now to see how bizarre and risky those choices were. However, even though we have our own teenage experiences, we should not let those experiences cloud our observations and vigilance over our kids.
Of course, teenagers often have trouble communicating what’s going on in their lives. This is especially true when it comes to communicating with adults. This can be even more true when it comes to communicating with their parents or caretakers. On top of that, it is even more true if they are struggling with their mental health. If communication has become strained or nonexistent with your daughter, it is critical to determine why and whether it might be time to seek professional help.
How to Spot Issues of Mental Health
Something to remember regarding adolescent communication and mental health is that a lack of communication should not be the sole indicator of problems. Rather, if you are noticing a lack of communication, it may be a good idea to look for other signs of mental distress or potential mental disorders.
It is also important to remember that some of the warning signs of mental illness may differ between adolescents and adults. Youth.gov is a sight that was created by the U.S. government to specifically focus on adolescent mental health. According to their research, these are some of the warning signs to look out for regarding teenage mental health:
- A drop in academic performance, including poor grades and excessive absences
- Showing severe periods of anxiety and worry
- Having trouble sleeping or sleeping excessively
- Exhibiting or describing unexplained physical ailments
- Exhibiting risky sexual behaviors
- Using substances or drinking
- Displaying severe mood swings
- Having trouble concentrating
- Having trouble communicating
Your Daughter’s Mental Health Is Not in Your Control
Something that we parents often forget is that our child’s mental health and behaviors are relatively out of our control. Some of the causes of mental health struggles can be biological. For example, the human brain isn’t fully developed until our mid to late 20s. Sometimes our child’s behaviors are even relatively out of their control too.
As parents, we also tend to blame ourselves for our child’s mental health. However, if their mental health is out of our control, then how can be our fault? It isn’t. Please remember that.
life-controlling issues of mental health do not just affect the struggling individual. They also affect the entire family. This is why we often hear mental illness referred to as a “family disease.” Just like any other disease, we need a solution, and in this instance, it should be a “family solution.”
Lack of Communication and Teenage Mental Health
If there is a complete shutdown of parent/child communication for an extended period, it may be time to take some more active steps. One way of getting your child to open up to you may be through an intermediary, such as a therapist or a psychologist. These professionals may be able to get your child to open up. They have specific techniques to encourage disclosure. Also, your child may feel more comfortable disclosing information to a counselor that they feel could be disappointing, alarming, or hurtful to you.
Another way to initiate and jumpstart communication may be through family counseling. This can be a highly effective way of reconnecting the entire family. The pressure is then taken off of the child because everyone is expected to participate and open up fully. Whether pursuing individual or family therapy, sometimes finding a safe space is what is needed to move forward and start talking again.
Of course, if these options are ineffective and your daughter is still struggling, it may be time to investigate recovery or treatment center options. It may feel counterintuitive to send your child away when all you are looking to do is communicate. However, just know that sometimes we need to take an individual journey before we can come back together whole again. Sometimes we need to let our children go, so we can get them back fully.
When it comes to your daughter’s mental health, communication can be crucial. When this communication becomes strained, it can be very concerning and difficult to overcome. However, a loss in communication is not the end. In fact, it can be a good inflection point for getting your daughter the help that she may desperately need. Here at Clearview Girls Academy, one of our focuses is getting our students to open up and begin to communicate more openly, honestly, and confidently. With the right attention, these communication skills will carry beyond our doors and help you and your daughter reestablish the relationship you may have considered unsalvageable. Please contact Clearview Girls Academy today at (888) 796-5484 for additional information.