According to the National Institute of Mental Health, three million teens between the ages of 12 and 17 had a major depressive episode in 2015. That’s 12.5 percent of the teenage population in the United States. Many of these teens come to Greenbrier Academy, and we’ve found that they often have:

  • – Feelings of low self-worth
  • – Feelings of hopelessness
  • – Difficulty concentrating
  • – Trouble developing healthy relationships
  • – Low self-esteem

Because of these feelings, they often ask themselves negative questions, like: “Why am I different?” “What’s wrong with me?” “Why are people so mean?” “Why don’t they like me?”

Many parents simply believe that this is a normal part of growing up, but it doesn’t have to be. With the right steps, you can empower your teenager so that she can develop healthy relationships, feel good about her choices and love herself. Here’s how to do it.

Ask Questions About Her Involvement

At our boarding school for troubled teens, we use several therapeutic programs to help your daughter change her negative past belief systems and create new, healthy and positive ones. One of those programs is equine therapy. This type of therapy is very effective because horses provide non-judgmental reactions to our current emotions, forcing your daughter to consider how she approaches relationships and what she can do to change this approach.

You can help her in the same way by asking non-judgmental questions that simply make her think. When she states that she feels like no one wants anything to do with her or that others are mean, consider asking her what she might have done differently in the situation to change the relationship or what had occurred.

Trust Her

Trust is a powerful tool that most teens don’t realize they want until it’s gone. It’s also a tool that many parents don’t want to use. However, it’s an important one. If you want your child to make good choices in every area of their lives, you have to trust them and give them the space they need to make those choices.

As the old saying goes, however, trust is earned. Start small and build on every success. Discuss (don’t criticize) any pitfalls they may have and help them understand what changes they can make to make the right choices next time. Make sure limits and expectations are clearly provided to them before each opportunity as well.

Be Involved

Like many parents, you may believe that your teen doesn’t want you to be a part of her life. She pushes you away and does things you don’t want her to do. However, she really does want to be an important part of your life. She just doesn’t know how to let go of her past negative relational experiences and have a healthy relationship with you. At our boarding school for troubled teens, we focus on making this easier by involving the family as much as possible. Weekly Skype calls are set up with your daughter’s therapist so you can learn how to talk and interact with each other again. Family workshops are held throughout the year to help you understand your daughter’s healing experience and make positive changes to the way the family functions.

For all of this to work, though, you have to be involved. You need to provide your daughter with family support throughout her stay at Greenbrier- and after. Continue the progress by sticking to her aftercare program once she has graduated.

Troubled teens often feel low self-esteem and feelings of hopelessness. As a parent, you can make a difference. With the help of Greenbrier Academy, empower your daughter for true change.