Anna Sabino, MSW, CDCES

Are we overcorrecting our kids? Addressing Teen Mental Health Challenges Head-On

Why are parents and young adults really struggling? We know that mental health statistics are staggering in teens and young adults.

The number one reason I receive referrals from other clinicians, or from parents/teens/young adults directly,  is because they are afraid of experiencing something that MIGHT FEEL HARD. I’m a parent-we want to step in and help, it is natural. Fear of highs, fear of lows, we’re afraid to feel worried, stressed, concerned.

teen mental health

What we are seeing however is this drastic attempt to over-knowledge, over-validate, and overcorrect feelings, especially with teens and young adults. By doing this what we are actually accomplishing is getting in the way of their ability to one day do it on their own with confidence. (I’m not talking about “let your kid run at 400 all day) …AND a little bit of “letting them figure out ups and downs on their own” is incredibly confidence boosting in the long run.

When we attempt for every single above or below target number (or remind them to and not allow them to step in first) we are not giving space for our kiddos to sit in the feeling of both physical and mental discomfort-which is not reality, and ultimately not setting them up for success.

Here’s an example…

“What if I go low during class, I will be forced to do something different and then people will post it on IG and everyone will know.” 

Yes, that will be hard. It’s ok for things to be hard, especially now when we can guide them on appropriate problem-solving strategies and watch them build up this tolerance so when they are on their own at 18ish they’ve built up the experiential learning they can reflect on when in those adult moments. Learning isn’t supposed to be easy.

So what if they do go low during class or at work? They have a CGM, likely glucose on them or close by, AND this experience will strengthen their skills for life.

Here are a few thoughts and statements for parents to use as we mentally train our own brains and our kids to build the self-trust and confidence to guide them to adulthood.

Putting a new pump site on is hard, and it might hurt a little, AND I know you can do hard things. I’m not going to do it for you.

“I agree I wish you didn’t forget to check and see if you had an extra pod in your backpack, and,  today I can’t bring it to you to school.” I know there is one in the nurse’s office or you can figure out a way to get home and get one.