Home Education What parents need to know about their teens’ mental health

What parents need to know about their teens’ mental health


Years ago, when I was still coaching high school cross country, a teenage girl skipped up to me after practice with a warning: Don’t count on her to race all the time. If her nerves got too intense before races, she might have to bow out in advance. “I have anxiety!” she explained with a nervous grin. 

 I recalled this episode while reading psychologist and author Lisa Damour’s refreshing new book, “The Emotional Lives of Teenagers: Raising Connected, Capable, and Compassionate Adolescents.” Damour’s voice is forceful but comforting, and she uses it here to drive home her central point: Achieving mental health does not mean a life without unhappiness, anguish, anger, worry or self-doubt. Rather, these painful emotional states are an unavoidable feature of being human, especially for young people buzzing with hormones and adjusting to operatic moods prompted by recent rewiring of their brains. To best help their developing teenagers, parents should work to build their self-esteem and then guide them in learning how to express and manage these feelings. 

Lisa Damour (Downie Photo/Courtesy of Lisa Damour)

Damour explains how we got to the point of considering unhappiness an aberration from some…

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