Got a teen child? When was the last time you told your child “I’m proud of you” and “You make me happy” or “You did a good job”?
The answer can possibly save his or her life. According to a study presented by professors from the University of Cincinnati at the 2017 American Public Health Association Conference certain parenting behaviors are directly linked with thoughts of suicide among teens. Your emotional connection and engagement with your children or lack of it can possibly lead them to contemplate or worse attempt to take their own lives.
For the study the UC professors reviewed the results of a 2012 survey. The follow up data analysis provided important insights for parents of teens especially adolescents.
Findings show that kids aged 12 to 17 years old are more likely to contemplate, plan, and attempt suicide. The kids who are prone to taking their own lives are those with parents who don’t communicate often with them, are not emotionally engaged, and don’t make them feel appreciated. “Kids need to know that someone’s got their back, and unfortunately, many of them do not. That’s a major problem,” UC Professor Keith King said.
King along with Professor Rebecca Vidourek who are the main proponents of the study also found that kids most vulnerable and are impacted by their parent’s behavior or treatment are those between 12 to 13 years old. Children in this age group are five times more likely to have thoughts of suicide, seven times more likely to put together a suicide plan, and seven times more likely to attempt suicide than other teens.
What’s more alarming is that kids in this age group with parents who don’t tell them “I’m proud of you” and don’t help them with home work are at an excessively high risk for suicide. Yes, excessively high.
So what can parents do?
“You can tell them you’re proud of them, that they did a good job, get involved with them, and help them with their homework,” says King.
“A key is to ensure that children feel positively connected to their parents and family,” added Vidourek.
Spending a few minutes each day to help them with their home work, talking to them, and reminding them that you care, they are loved and appreciated can do wonders to your relationship and your child’s mental well being.
Parents should realize that our actions, words, or absence can have a significant impact on our children’s lives. What we say or don’t say can shape the way they perceive the world and themselves as a whole.
Saving their lives can be as simple as saying “I’m proud of you”, “You did a good job”, and “I love you”.