Adolescence is the time from childhood to adulthood and a time of major changes in anyone’s evolution. Dr. Albert Majó recommends that we promote good mental health in adolescents with advice that can help us at this stage.
Adolescence is the time from childhood to adulthood and a time of major changes in anyone’s evolution.
These changes are biological, psychological and social, affect the body, related to growth and the preparation of organs for reproduction, the mind, ability to abstract and make decisions evaluating different alternatives and, at the social level, differentiate from adults, growing importance of friends to the detriment of the family.
The adolescent has much more autonomy than the child but maintains an important degree of dependence and it is still necessary to take care of and be on top of it in order for their development to be optimal.
According to the WHO, “half of all mental illnesses begin before the age of 14, but most cases are neither detected nor treated”. According to this organization, depression occupies an important place and suicide is the second cause of death between the ages of 15 and 19.
Not to mention the abuse of alcohol and drugs that can generate dangerous behaviors such as risky sexual practices or reckless driving. To these problems must be added eating disorders.
It is therefore everyone’s responsibility to accompany them during this stage to ensure that they become responsible, mature and happy adults.
Relationship to family.
It is important to leave them space to exercise their freedom, to explore and discover for themselves but equally important is to maintain a vigilant attitude to detect any change in the behavior of adolescents that may alert us that something is not right.
It is necessary to organize family activities and not lose communication with them, who know that they can count on parents when they have a problem or concern.
Teenagers need to discover the world for themselves, they are forming their adult identity and for this they often oppose authority figures (parents, teachers…), at the same time they need and seek that these same figures mark some limits that help them to learn to where they can go.
It is necessary to find the balance between leaving them margin for exploration and marking well the limits that they should not cross.
Teaching adolescents to respect themselves, others, and the environment is critical to avoiding risky behaviors.
Schedules and routines
During adolescence it continues to be of fundamental importance to maintain routines and schedules as in childhood because it helps them to structure, organize and limit themselves. Setting schedules and routines for meals, personal hygiene, study, help at home, free time …
In a period of life where biological and hormonal changes are so important that a balanced diet is essential. A healthy diet helps to prevent certain health problems in the future and to maintain a healthy lifestyle when they are adults.
Even more so if we take into account that at this stage they start eating out, so they eat worse and also often tend to skip breakfast, the most important meal of the day when they are studying.
Teenagers have an enormous physical and psychological exhaustion and they need to sleep between 9 and 10 hours a day to avoid the tiredness that reduces their school performance and causes them irritability.
It is advisable one hour of physical activity a day, do outdoor activities, practice some sport helps to combat sedentarism.
Physical activity is essential as it provides benefits in all areas of adolescent life; it improves physical, mental and social health (it avoids overweight, favours good posture, improves self-esteem and reduces symptoms of anxiety and depression, favours socialisation, improves concentration).
Teenagers want to spend more time with friends than with family. In this sense it is important to show interest in knowing their friends, gives them security and is the only way to avoid bad company to assess the risks of falling into problems of substance abuse, risky sex etc.. We should try to encourage positive social habits such as respect, honesty and friendship.
Internet/ social networks
Today’s teenagers belong to the digital age so their way of relating to the world goes through the internet and social networks. This often clashes with the analogue world of adults.
This shock usually provokes in adults two opposite reactions, or disinterest, total disregard and even perverse use of such devices by delegating the care and education of their children to the devices that entertain them to avoid disturbance, or the opposite, the rejection and prohibition of the use of these devices.
It is urgent to find a balance between these two extremes, it is necessary to understand, on the one hand, that it is part of their way of relating to the world, but on the other hand, to teach them that digital media are tools and do not constitute an end in themselves.
It is necessary to avoid the substitution of face-to-face personal relationships for virtual relationships that are partial and therefore not very real.
To conclude, the essential task of setting limits during childhood is transformed in adolescence into the need to arouse in the individual the adoption of their own limits. The limits cannot be imposed on the adolescent, because then he runs away from them and rejects them.
On the contrary, the adolescent must discover, hand in hand with his educators, that he must recognize and respect some limits as a way to obtain a reasonable balance between the different aspects of his life. Obviously it is much more difficult to suggest than to impose, and we will only succeed if we encourage the continuity of the dialogue with them.