How Can I Take Care of Myself — as Well as My Teen?

Tired moms, read on!
How Can I Take Care of Myself — as Well as a Difficult Teen?

Contributor: Pediatric psychologist, Amy Lee, PhD

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Taking care of yourself when you’re a busy mom is a challenge, and raising a teen is no exception.

First things first. You want to support yourself with good health habits that can translate into a positive role model for your teen as well as make you more patient and loving in your relationship.

Here are some ways to do this:

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  • Fill up with helpful energy sources. Eat plenty of vegetables, fruits, whole grains and lean proteins to improve energy and care for your body and brain. Avoid “the middle aisles” or processed foods in the grocery store.
  • Move that body. There is ample evidence that regular exercise reduces the impact of stress on brain and body. Take movement breaks whenever possible. Keep in mind that a full workout is not necessary to get benefits from movement and exercise. A relaxing walk or stretches with deep breaths can reduce stress.
  • Get plenty of rest. Studies show that American adults and teens do not sleep enough hours at night. Model positive habits with your teen by taking electronic devices out of the bedroom and focus on getting seven to eight hours of sleep each night.
  • Reset with breath. Use mini breathing breaks throughout the day to reduce stress build up. Focus on the belly and breathe in slowly, then breathe out slowly. Repeat this exercise three to five times to feel a release of stress and a reset.
  • Be kind to yourself. Focus on a positive thought or intention, or a positive quality in yourself you would like to emphasize each day. Repeat this thought to yourself throughout the day.

How to foster trust with your teen

When it comes to your teen, practice listening with validation. This means focusing on understanding your teen’s point of view rather than convincing him or her of your point of view exclusively.

How do you do this? Try statements like: “I see what you are saying….”  “Okay, I think I understand how you feel/what you think…” Restate what you heard them say, but in your own words.

If you are concerned about your relationship with your teen, don’t hesitate to seek the advice and help of a trained mental health professional.

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For more on communication with kids/teens try these resources:

  • Raising Human Beings: Creating a Collaborative Partnership with Your Child August 15, 2017, by Ross W. Greene, Ph.D.
  • How to Talk So Teens Will Listen and Listen So Teens Will Talk August 22, 2006, by Adele Faber and Elaine Mazlish.
  • Braving the Wilderness: The Quest for True Belonging and the Courage to Stand Alone. 2017, by Brene Brown, Ph.D.

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