For the average teen girl, #Back2School is about more than just taking notes, completing homework assignments, and studying for tests.
It’s also about establishing one’s identity, fitting in with friends, and dating.
While none of the above should give you cause for alarm, there are a few things you need to be on the lookout for as your daughter returns to school…
Is your daughter exhibiting mood swings like extreme sadness, irritability, loss of focus or interest in things she used to enjoy?
Everyone knows teens can be “moody,” but you want to pay attention to behavior that’s out of the norm for your daughter.
One sign of depression I’m seeing more and more with girls in middle and high school is cutting or self-harm.
Girls tell me they do it as a way to self-medicate their pain or to feel more in control when they feel stressed out.
“Everyone has a different way to release stress and unfortunately in my case that is cutting. I know this may seem like it doesn’t fit in with what you spoke to us about, but I believe it does. As you said, lots of girls fool around with guys to try to get from them what they didn’t get from their dads. For me, I love my dad and our relationship is pretty good. However, the stress of trying to please him often leaves me feeling empty. When I feel like a failure, like I’ll never be enough to make him happy, I feel that way in all areas of my life.”
If you notice your daughter frequently wearing long-sleeved shirts when it’s warm outside, it doesn’t necessarily mean she’s cutting.
But it doesn’t hurt to ask the question, “Why?”
Likewise, if you see other potential signs of depression in your daughter, talk to her.
Ask open-ended questions about how she’s feeling.
…What’s going well at school?
…If/when things aren’t going well, what does she do to cope?
Don’t be afraid to reach out to her homeroom teacher and/or school counselor to see if they’ve noticed changes in her mood/behavior as well.
Then be prepared to get her professional help.
2. Sleep Deprivation
Does your daughter stay up late on her smartphone consumed with social media?
Does she appear to be tired often?
If so, this is a potentially dangerous problem you don’t want to overlook.
Recent studies have shown that when your daughter doesn’t get the recommended average of 9-9 ½ hours of sleep, she’s more at risk of experiencing anxiety and depression.
Not to mention engaging in risky behaviors (i.e. substance abuse and sex).
This is why I discourage parents from allowing their teens to charge their phones in their rooms overnight.
Require ALL devices to be charged in your room.
3. Low Self-Esteem
Show me a young lady who doesn’t value herself, and I’ll show you one who is likely in for a long, emotionally draining school year.
If your daughter struggles with low self-esteem it can impact her decision-making with everything from…
- the social circle she tries to fit in with
- the energy she puts into pursuing #lifegoals vs. #relationshipgoals
- the type of person she’ll date (i.e. The Player, Good Guy or Best Guy I write about in 7 Secrets Guys Will Never Tell You)
- how much influence she’ll allow that person to have in her life
- how she chooses to cope in stressful situations
My advice is to periodically conduct your own “well checks” to gauge the healthiness of your daughter’s sense of self-worth.
Is she always comparing herself to other people (in real life or online)?
Is she overly critical of her appearance?
Does she often engage in negative self-talk?
Is she obsessed with being in a relationship?
If any of the above is true for your daughter, it’s time to have a conversation.
Invite her to share her concerns, struggles, and/or pain with you.
Then share your concerns with her and offer to get her help.
It just so happens I have a library of resources at your disposal to help build up your daughter’s self-esteem.
#Back2School should be a time of positive academic and social development for your daughter.
But the three issues we covered today can get in the way of her having a successful year, so be on the lookout.
Which of the three worries you the most when it comes to your daughter?
Let me know by commenting below and don’t forget to share why it’s a concern.