Family affair

Student well-being is a family affair, advises therapist

As CAO decision time approaches, stress levels within households tend to increase. However, with the world in the midst of a pandemic, stress levels are already high to begin with, and parents and therapists around the world are reporting massive increases in anxiety levels among young people.

Psychotherapist and trainer for children and teenagers, Edel Lawlor sees the effects the pandemic has had on families every day in her practice, and has helpful ideas for parents and their teenagers to help them navigate this new transition in life. family. It starts with understanding teenagers, learning to listen and take care of yourself.

“We are in a global pandemic that is impacting children and families.

Teenagers missed rituals like parties and their debs, which aren’t just debs, it’s a transitional stage of leaving home.

They missed so many things we all took for granted at that age. Parents, meanwhile, are exhausted, she explains, and their well-being is just as important as that of their children.

All is not gloomy, however, according to Ms Lawlor. Some teens learned to appreciate the little things they took for granted before, like meeting friends for coffee, while wearing masks and studying on zoom suited others.

Parents: be an elephant and don’t be afraid to let them fail

From around the age of 12 until they are around 20 or 21, children enter the adolescent tunnel. Parents have no place there and must stay away. It’s a place where young people go through an important developmental phase where they explore their own identity, take risks and notice all your flaws.

During this phase, parents can walk outside the tunnel. There will be chaos inside and times when the teenagers regress and come out of the tunnel, but they have to go back. There are other times when they fall and need to be picked up, but other than that parents need to take a step back.

“As parents, we have to let our teenagers struggle, otherwise we cripple them to face any adversity,” says Ms Lawlor, adding that parents also need to be aware if they are trying to fix their own teenage experience at through their child.

While a teenager is in the tunnel, what parents can do is listen to their child and take care of themselves, as many parents are exhausted.

“Teenagers watch their parents like hawks and see how they take care of their mental health. Use this time to get back to the basics of self-care and reach for the stars yourself,” says Lawlor.

“Take care of yourself and your teenager by going for a drive and having a coffee. They might have their headphones on and not say a word to you, but that’s okay. It’s spending time with them and doing something positive for both of you,” she advises.

“Also, ask yourself what kind of listener are you? Are you an elephant – all ears? Or are you a crocodile? You have to be the listening elephant so they know you’re there,” she says.

The teenagers eventually come out of the tunnel and Ms Lawlor says that one day around 20 or 21 they will ask you for coffee.

“You’ll look at them and say, ‘Is that you?’ but then you will know that they came out the other side.

Students – self-care checklist

Top of the list is controlling your use of social media.

Take breaks.

Move, move, move… it helps when you’re anxious about making decisions. It gets you out of your head, relieves stress, and you’ll feel more relaxed.

Listen to music. The rhythm of music is beneficial for our neural pathways. Also pay attention to the mood of the music you are listening to. If it’s always Adele or something sad all the time, it might get you down. To mix together.

Talk to a friend or therapist Doodle: This helps us set Journal in a notebook or on your phone where you can lock it.

Chewing gum: When we are stressed, we jam our jaws and chewing gum helps relax the jaw.

Yoga, meditation, watching an uplifting movie.

Ask for help if you need it.

Choose what lights you up

Don’t pressure yourself to go to college if you know it’s not for you. Not everyone goes to college. Many successful people never went to college.

Ask yourself what makes you smile, what lights you up? If you are interested or passionate about something, if a smile appears when you think about it, it can be a strong indication of the right path for you. Choosing from a cognitive location can often result in having to change course later.

Parents may discourage you from certain careers because of your low income or working conditions. They come from difficult times. Go with what makes you happy.

Ms Edel Lawlor is a child and adolescent psychotherapist and founder and director of the Kerry-based Expressive Play Therapy and Training Centre.