Linda Blair, Clinical Psychologist, wrote in Monday’s Daily Telegraph about supporting boys with depression. As a mother of three boys, the eldest being 12, it caught my eye. She wrote about the rapid increase in the number of boys being diagnosed with depression – 5.5 per cent of 14 year olds in 2007 compared to 9 per cent in 2017. Whilst there is no gender differences in rates of depression in prepubescent children, at about 13 years things start to change. For girls, the symptoms are inward based – eating being a prime example. For boys the symptoms are more likely to be shown through anger and high-risk behaviour. Often we view anger as a hormone based reaction but not so, says Linda Blair. She sites fear and anxiety as triggers for anger and, as importantly, she reminds us that boys find it much harder than girls to admit their worries.

For parents, she suggests ways to help. Creating opportunities when your son will be really sure you are listening. If you sense he wants to talk – stop whatever you are doing and really listen. Avoid passing judgement or fixing the problem, rather offer to help him find someone who might be able to help (another relative, or a professional, for example). Secondly, she tells parents to be a good role model. “Admit when you’re feeling upset and tell everyone you need time to think, instead of selfishly venting your temper.”

So – listening and lead by example. Easier said than done but such sound advice. My work with clients is inextricably linked with listening, relationships and communication so I can accept what Linda Blair is saying completely but I also know this is not always easy. Keeping the lines of communication open with a strong willed and confused teenager is no mean feat and is made much easier and more effective if the parents or family are working together.

Do you need support with your relationship with your teenage? Are you concerned about your son or daughter? Please do get in touch if you feel you need some confidential and non-judgemental support, either for yourself, with your partner or the whole family.

#relationships #communication #parents #teenagers #boys #lifecoaching #alicejohnsen