Bourbon County Middle School
A message from your School Counselors
Meet the Counselors!
Counseling at a glance
This month we focused on emotional regulation. The lesson talked with students about the different parts of the brain and how big emotions effect us! We also talked about calming strategies and how to manage emotions that may be too overwhelming.
5 ways to get your Teen to open up about their Mental Health!
1. Find Shared Activities
Talking isn’t the only form of communication. Teens will be more likely to express and share their emotions and worries over an activity they enjoy. Find an activity that both you and your teen like to do, whether it’s cooking together, playing Scrabble, or walking the dog. Keep your expectations low and relax into the activity. Sometimes just sharing a positive experience is enough.
2. Use What Works for Them
How does your teen prefer to communicate? If your son only texts with his friends, start there. If your daughter likes journaling, create a shared journal where you write notes back and forth. Fristad also encourages parents to try less “eyeball to eyeball contact.” If you notice your teen seems uncomfortable talking face-to-face, try while in the car or sitting on the edge of their bed while the lights are out. This may feel safer to many teens than looking you in the eye.
3. Validate Their Emotions
As parents, we tend to try to solve our teen’s problems. Instead, make an effort to show your teen that you understand and empathize with what they are going through. Don’t be afraid to ask your teen about their feelings. Then reflect back on what they’ve said and validated it without rushing ahead to solutions.
4. Normalize What They’re Feeling
Everyone is struggling emotionally in some way and some more than others. It can be helpful to normalize their feelings by saying something like, “It’s been a horrible year in so many ways, how’s it been for you?” or “A lot of people are feeling depressed and anxious right now, how are you feeling?” You can also acknowledge briefly that you have concerns as well. Your teen may be more likely to talk if you go first.
5. Control Your Own Emotions
If your child comes home in an angry mood, rather than responding with equal emotional intensity, picture yourself as a container that can simply hold his or her feelings. Reflecting back with curiosity (e.g., Wow, you seem really upset, did something go wrong in your day?) offers the possibility of a fruitful conversation. If you are angry with your child, consider taking a cooling-off period for yourself before launching into a discussion of the conflict. Make sure that both you and your teen are ready to have the conversation before beginning. If your teen has had previous suicide attempts, Fristad notes that you may be wary to push into emotional territory with your child. These moments can bring up guilt, shame, anger, frustration, and many other emotions for parents. Remember to breathe—long and slow, and wait until calmer before proceeding.
*From Families for Depression Awareness*