How to Gift Your Teen Mental Health for Life

Kathi Sohn
4 min readMay 21, 2024

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It’s May, and school is nearly out for the Summer. It seems like I just dropped my kids off for their first day of the school year! As the days tick by, we see our kids shoot up into their teens and suddenly we are facing those years we’ve always dreaded. The moodiness… the attitude… the drama… is it all inevitable?

I would say the learning curve is inevitable, but not the emotional roller coaster. Yes, there will be challenges, and kids will question themselves like never before. They will question their identity, their image, their value and their competence in a world they are only beginning to understand.

Teen anxiety, depression and loneliness are often connected to low self-esteem and a distorted image of themselves and how they think others see them. As a parent to a teenager, you have a great opportunity to support your child’s mental health for life. You can leverage the strong emotional connection you’ve been building with your teen since birth and they will gain the strength and resilience they need to navigate the inevitable changes they will face within and around them.

You might be wondering “just how can I do this when it’s so difficult to get their attention for a meaningful talk these days.”

Take a deep breath — this will be easier than you think.

If you think you have to compete with the internet and their friends for your teen’s attention, you’re not considering what’s got their attention during their alone time. Kids with increasing independence will need to make more serious choices and see the more serious consequences of those choices for the first time in their life.

They will come face-to-face with their beliefs, and this is your opportunity to deepen your emotional connection and be their trusted, honest, loving mirror.

We all create beliefs about ourselves, others, and the world before we are even seven years old. We carry these beliefs into adulthood where they can wreak havoc on our health, our finances and our relationships — if we don’t examine and release the ones that don’t support us.

Teens have an incredible advantage of being able to examine their beliefs while they are still at home, in a safe place and with people who unconditionally love and support them.

So as your youngster considers who they are as separate from their parents, they might come up against beliefs like “I am a disappointment” or “I am lazy.”

As they consider what others think of them they might come up against beliefs like “nobody believes me” or “they think I’m strange.”

As they consider their value in the world they might come up against beliefs like “I don’t fit in” or “What I say doesn’t matter.”

As they consider their competency and what they could study in college and be in the world, they might come up against beliefs like “I can’t be better than my parents” or “I can’t do it by myself.”

If they get a job, a credit card or a car, they’ll begin to see their beliefs about money.

So how can you help your teen examine beliefs that don’t serve them?

If they come to you to talk, give them your full attention and listen, listen, listen. Resist the urge to jump in and give advice or a lecture. If you really listen, you’ll hear them articulate their beliefs outright. You could hear something like: “I know most people don’t understand me…” This is an assumption and a belief.

Ask for an example of when someone didn’t understand them and explore possible reasons that weren’t about them personally. Gently challenge that belief might come to the realization they really don’t have any proof of their belief — it was created out of an emotional experience when they were very young.

If your teen isn’t coming to you to talk, find activities you like to together and ask questions that will lead them to share what’s going on inside.

If you think your emotional bond with your child isn’t strong, it isn’t too late. Most important is to let your teen be heard, valued and loved. You can help your teen build emotional resilience for a happy, prosperous life.

Kathi Sohn (Author and Coach)

Kathi Sohn is the author of You Made It Up, Now Stop Believing It, and a certified life coach. She is the leading expert in the creation, discovery and release of limiting and destructive childhood vows. Learn more about Kathi and her work at kathisohn.com.

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Kathi Sohn

Core belief expert and life coach; I love to help parents connect and communicate with their children in a way that creates calm and cooperation in the home.