As a parent you may think you can help your daughter overcome certain moments of her life with a long conversation and hug. There are certain trauma points that hit much harder than others and can leave a lasting mark. At Greenbrier Academy, we have seen that many mental health issues stem from past relational experiences with others and how an individual has perceived them.
It’s only by evaluating these experiences with your teen and helping her change the way she perceived the experiences and will perceive future experiences that she can overcome feelings of anxiety and depression or make a change away from that state of being.
Tara Swart, an MIT neuroscientist, explains how these trauma points affect your teen. According to her research, the brain’s wiring is at its most malleable two times in her life. The first time is during the ‘terrible twos’ and the second, during the teen years. Throughout these years, the brain adapts and processes information based on her life experiences, genes and nutrition. One interruption, if it’s significant enough, can change the way her brain works. She may not even realize until later just how much.
So, what are the three major trauma points?
While divorce is sometimes the best option, for both the parents, that doesn’t necessarily mean your daughter will see it that way. In her mind, it’s a loss, something to grieve. She may not be able to maintain the same relationship with both parents when they are living in separate houses. That stability, that family, is no longer there. She may feel as if the first years of her life, when everything seemed happy and right was just a lie, or she may be worried about future stability and experience anxiety and fear of “the rug being pulled out from under her.”
The death of a loved one greatly affects your teen’s life. Even if your daughter was too young to remember the family member, his or her absence from your daughter’s life will have a significant impact. The grieving process is different for every teen (and often continuous). Don’t expect her to stop grieving after a few years. While her grief may not be as intense with the passing of time, there will still be moments when she thinks of the individual that’s gone and experiences waves of grief.
Verbal Abuse at Home
Many parents don’t realize that what they say can have lasting, long-term affects on their teens. Saying, “Are you sure you want to have a second donut? Do you really need it?” may seem innocent, but it can be perceived through her filter of low self worth and, as a trauma point, can cause her to consider whether or not she is fat every time she wants to eat. Harsher forms of verbal abuse work the same way. Your daughter may grow up believing she isn’t good enough, smart enough or pretty enough simply because of what was said to her.
Trauma, especially in the teen years, can greatly affect your daughter’s mental health and the way her brain works. At Greenbrier Academy, we offer help for troubled teens trying to overcome this type of trauma. At our all-girls boarding school, we help your daughter understand her past relational experiences and create new, more positive relational experiences.