It’s no secret adolescence is the period of peak stress. Rachel Simmons writes a fantastic article in the NY Times about self-compassion for stressed out teens. Unfortunately, anxiety and depression have skyrocketed in today’s teens. Between 2012 and 2015 depression increased 50% in teen girls and college students experiencing overwhelming anxiety reached 62% in 2016. Many adolescents attempt to motivate themselves to succeed with self-criticism; the idea of self-compassion is completely foreign. However, researchers analyzing studies of 7,000 teenagers with high levels of the self-compassion trait report lower levels of anxiety and depression. Previously, researchers discovered self-compassion not only eases psychopathology in adults but bolsters motivation and high performance standards. Self-compassion involves noticing one’s feelings without judgment, self-kindness or talking to one’s self in a soothing way and common humanity, or thinking about how others might be suffering similarly. I don’t know about you but my teenager is going to get weekly lessons on self-compassion.
As we all reel yet again from the tragedy yesterday in Parkland, Florida it’s important as parents to be equipped to discuss these issues with our children. NBC News asked mental health experts how they discuss these tragedies with their own children. It provides some good ideas about how to communicate and process the events from yesterday. I’ll be having these same discussions with my 9th Grader and Fifth Grader. Avoiding, minimizing or ignoring the topic isn’t the right strategy just as forcing the discussion on to our kids is not healthy or helpful.