Is Thanksgiving Good For Your Teen’s Well-Being?

Nov 2, 2022

It’s a wonderful time of the year. Thanksgiving.

One of my favorite holidays. It means lots of family around the dinner table. It means terrific food that we only eat once a year.  It means different pies for an unlimited dessert. It means watching the NFL all day. And for teens, it means a long weekend of no school…yeah!

But it also begins the beginning of the worst seasonal mental health period of the year, November through January. Days are getting shorter, nights are longer, and it’s colder every day. 

Let’s concentrate on the actual holiday of Thanksgiving and your teen. The national statistic from the CDC is that almost 20% of high school teens have considered suicide at least once and nearly half of those attempting suicide. 

Here’s how your teen may possibly be looking at this holiday: 

  • If they are feeling a bit sad already, then surrounding them with lots of family members can actually make them turn inward, rather than have family fun. This is contrarian thinking, but that’s because we look at Thanksgiving through our eyes, and not our teen’s eyes.  Sadness, even if we don’t recognize it, can be isolating.
  • Most parents are so busy entertaining this weekend that they have no time for their teens.
  • Because of the weather, this weekend forces many teens inside where they can “hide” in their rooms, isolating them from their families and friends.
  • Should your teen be feeling a bit sad, they will not have the opportunity to share these feelings with their friends until Monday, which is a long time.
  • With just a few weeks until course finals, this begins the road of fear of not meeting their parents’ expectations

Let’s look again at some of the characteristics of teen depression:

Feelings of sadness, which can include crying spells.

Frustration or feelings of anger, even over small matters.

Feelings of hopelessness.

Irritable or annoyed mood.

Major sleep changes and eating changes.

Loss of interest in social activities.

Loss of interest in family or friends.

Unusually low self-esteem.

Feelings of worthlessness or guilt.

Fixation on past failures, or exaggerated self-blame.

Extreme sensitivity to rejection or failure.

Trouble concentrating or making decisions.

Ongoing sense that life and the future are grim and bleak.

Frequent thoughts of death, dying, or suicide.

3. Here are three ideas you can do with your teen this month to get into your teen’s head:

1. Make dinners always cell-phone free times with no texting too.  Nothing will beat this quality time.  Learn to ask great questions of your teen, with no judgment.

2. Take a walk with your teen weekly.

3. Use drive time as talking time.

And one more thing. If you are looking for some help or your teen is looking for some help, please pass along our texting program.

Anyone, in all fifty states, can text “BRIGHTER” to 741741 and you’ll have a text conversation beginning within just a few minutes. This can be exceptionally effective for teens wanting to be more open without their parents around. And it’s open 24/7 every day.

Just text “BRIGHTER” to 741741.

We are here to help you.

Our resource center is at www.abrighterday.info. There are tons of articles, information toolkits, and parenting tips on how to strengthen the relationship with your teen.

We look forward to hearing from you. Please reach out to me at elliot@abrighterday.info.

Call anytime.

Thanks, and Happy Thanksgiving.

Elliot

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