Helping Teens Through Relationship Breakups: Tips For Parents

Tanni Haas, Ph.D.

Teenage relationships can be fickle: one day they can’t get enough of each other; the next day the exact opposite happens. It’s hard for teens when a loved one drops out of their lives. How can parents help their teens get over breakups? Here’s what the experts suggest:

make yourself available

First and foremost, be there for your teens, to give them “the space to feel how they feel,” as amy morin from Understood.org, a group of education experts, puts it. She says her teenage sons are likely to need him a lot more than usual during this difficult transition, so make yourself available whenever possible.

be extra loving

Be more affectionate with your teenagers; they need it Social worker sarah saxbe suggests that parents make small gestures of love such as bringing a beloved stuffed animal from their childhood, a treat or takeout from their favorite restaurant. “Little pleasures help ease suffering during the most painful times,” says Ms. Morin, adding that parents need to remind their teens “how smart, kind, loved and wonderful they are.”

When he’s ready to talk, listen instead of offering an opinion or advice.

Listen to them

When he’s ready to talk, listen instead of offering an opinion or advice. Morin says that teens “need time and a safe space to express their frustration, confusion, pain and any other emotions they experience without anyone clouding them or questioning their thoughts.” Instead of looking for the right thing to say, focus on keeping the conversation going by repeating your feelings to them or, as a teen social worker Tasha Ruby says, “ask for clarification rather than offer information.” child psychologist Dr. Michelle De Rasmus He suggests saying things like “‘I know you’re really hurting right now,'” or “‘You seem to be dealing with a lot of different emotions.'”

If you don’t want to talk…

If your teens don’t feel like talking about the breakup, support them in other ways. Dr. DeRasmus suggests doing relaxing things together, like watching movies or going for a walk. “Even if teens don’t want to talk, the presence of a parent can be comforting. Spend a lot of time with them and give them your full attention,” she says.

tell them to be patient

The pain of a breakup doesn’t go away right away, so tell teens to be patient but also give them hope for the future. “The most important lesson to pass on to your teen,” says Ms. Morin, “is that heartbreak takes time to heal, but in time, it will.” Ms. Rube suggests saying things like, ‘I know it hurts a lot right now, but remember it’s not forever.’”

Encourage your teen to take “tech time” immediately after the breakup to avoid posting something they’ll regret later.

Take a tech break

Many of teens’ social lives take place online, and dating and romance are no exception. Many teens rush online to update their relationship status from “in a relationship” to “single” when going through a breakup, often sharing intimate details about their previous relationship. Ms. Morin suggests that parents should encourage their teens to take “tech time” immediately after the breakup to avoid posting something they’ll later regret. She especially warns teens not to badmouth their exes or share private details of the breakup. Clinical psychologist Dr. Margaret Greenberg She adds that parents should advise their teens to cut off all social media contact with exes. “It’s impossible to forget someone,” notes Dr. Greenberg, “if you’re constantly checking in on their status and therefore making their daily life a very important part of your daily life.”

Provide fun distractions

You can also support your teens by providing fun distractions. This could be anything from shopping, watching a ball game, gardening, or redecorating your room. Doing fun things together reminds them, as Ms. Morin says, that “life is great, even without a boyfriend or girlfriend.” But also get them back into a happy and productive daily routine. “Fun days can be distracting,” says Ms. Morin, “but so can homework, chores, family outings, and sports practices.” Try to keep them as active as possible, whether through school clubs, hobbies, or sports. Encourage them to take care of themselves physically by eating well, exercising, and getting enough sleep. “Staying busy,” says Ms. Rube, “will help prevent [them] of having obsessive thoughts about the relationship and helping to show [them] that life goes on.”

Talk about your own relationships

Finally, talk about your own past relationships as a way to help them put your relationship into perspective. Ms. Rube says that doing so will help them see breakups as normal and “increase the sense of intimacy between you and your teen.”


ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Tanni Haas, Ph.D. He is a professor in the Department of Arts, Sciences and Communication Disorders at the City University of New York – Brooklyn College.

Editor’s Note: This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment, and does not constitute medical or other professional advice.

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