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For Parents: Prioritizing the Mental Health of Your Los Angeles Teens During the Holidays

The holiday season is coming and while it’s usually a fun and festive time of year, for teens with mental health needs in L.A., it can also come with some added challenges. Parents tend to get busier with running errands, attending events, and preparing for family gatherings and this can leave teens with mental health needs feeling isolated and alone.

Parents need to be sure to attend to the needs of their teens and to prioritize their mental health appointments as necessary. Additionally, it’s important to understand that all this flurry of activity can lead to a rise in symptoms for some teens with mental illness. Recognizing this as a possibility can give parents the heads-up they need to handle this sudden change. Here’s how parents can help their L.A. teens with their mental health needs during the holidays.

Be Aware of Their Triggers

The holidays can be hard on some people. Depending on the beliefs of your family, you may not participate in holiday activities the same way as others. This can be hard on some L.A. teens who may want to fit in with their peers. These triggers can lead to heightened anxiety, deeper depression, or increased OCD in teenagers. By being aware of their triggers, you as the parent can try to make things easier for your teen during these busy couple of months by planning ahead and making accommodations for them when needed.

Be Present and Listen

Because there is so much going on during the holidays, it’s easy to get distracted. Parents can support their teens’ mental health by being present and in the moment. Yes, there is probably a list of things to do to make meals, go to events, and even shop for gifts. But being present will help your teen feel safe and will help you be less distracted. One way to be present is to give your teen 15 minutes as soon as they get home to talk about their day, ask questions, and do something with you. Don’t use this time to give instructions on chores, simply use it to connect with them.

Be Flexible With Their Needs

Having a teen with mental health issues means that their needs might require more flexibility. OCD teens for instance may need more time to get out of the house because of the number of times they have to check on things or get ready. Teens with anxiety might not enjoy surprises even if they are good ones.

Being flexible with their needs means that you prioritize their appointments over other holiday activities to ensure they are getting the proper mental health care in L.A. that they need. It also might mean being ready to change plans, if necessary, as well. As a parent, this can certainly be challenging, but taking this approach can help your teens with mental illness have a better time not only during the holidays but at other busy times of the year as well.

Let Them Help Make Plans

There are a lot of fun things to do throughout the holiday season. Helping your teens with their mental health might require letting them help with planning. Some teens feel more in control when they get to participate in planning activities, food, and other things to do. This can help teens who are prone to social anxiety and other stressors as well because they can have a say in which things they want to go to. If an event would be too much for their anxiety, they can help choose a different one instead. There are plenty of great things to do in L.A., so you shouldn’t have a problem coming up with something fun no matter what your family traditions look like.

Be Supportive of Their Self-Care Needs

Some teenagers in L.A. need time alone, some need time with good friends, and others need a day at the beach. No matter what your teens’ self-care needs are, make sure you stay supportive of them even if things get hectic near the holidays. While visiting grandparents or relatives might seem important this time of year, it’s also important not to neglect your teen’s self-care needs to make it happen. Be supportive of the mental health needs of your teen AND go visit the grandparents.  

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