No matter how old you are, going through a breakup is hard. For teens, however, it might be the first time they’ve experienced feelings of heartbreak and the end of any type of relationship. As a result, this time can be especially painful. If your teen is going through a breakup, here are some practical ways that you can help and care for them.
Acknowledge Their Feelings
“You’re too young to be really upset,” “I didn’t really like him anyways,” “it wasn’t really love,” “at least it wasn’t a serious relationship.” These are all things that, as a parent, you might say to your teen in a desperate attempt to make them feel better or give them a dose of tough love. Unfortunately, belittling their emotions will only make your teen feel worse. Instead, respect your teen’s heartbreak and the sadness that they feel. This will allow them to actually work through their feelings instead of defending or bottling them up.
As your teen deals with the emotional aftermath of their breakup, it’s important to make yourself available for anything they might need. Provide invitations to talk if they want to (rather than demanding that they open up) and simply be present to listen. During this time, your teen might want to be alone, but you can help them not feel lonely just by being nearby.
Encourage Your Teen to Take a Social Media “Break”
Teens are very plugged into social media these days. This can make a break up very difficult because they might “see” a lot of their ex or be tempted to continuing following them on social media. Furthermore, they might also be tempted lash out if it was a particularly difficult breakup, which can make things uncomfortable later. Encourage your teen to not post anything about their breakup online and to use caution or limitations when using social media as they heal emotionally. To do this effectively and without setting harsh limits on their internet usage, you might need to propose activities such as a board games night or outing to take their mind off of social media.
Help Your Teen Return to “Normal”
After experiencing a breakup, your teen might want to “check out” from their regular activities and isolate themselves. They also might start acting out or being more rebellious. This is your teen struggling to know how to act and respond to the emotions they’re feeling. You can help them by encouraging them to stick to their regular routine as much as possible. This might look different in some ways after the end of a relationship, but encourage them to fill those gaps of time with new and exciting things. Help them to feel comfortable with themselves again and confident that they can find a new sense of “normal.”
Feature Image: Alex Martinez