What to do during your child’s first heartbreak
WVLT News spoke to Dr. Karen Beale, an associate professor of psychology at Maryville College, about what to do when your teen goes through that first breakup.
KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WVLT) - A teen’s first heartbreak can be an emotional rollercoaster. WVLT News spoke to Dr. Karen Beale, an associate professor of psychology at Maryville College, about what to do when your teen goes through that first breakup.
Dr. Beale said empathy is key in helping your child by putting yourself in their shoes.
“You could feel your heart,” said Dr. Beale. “It was like it was hurting, and it’s because your brain is registering it as physical pain.”
Dr. Beale also said that the loss can feel similar to drug withdrawal.
“If it hits you out of the blue, and all of a sudden they don’t want to be with you anymore, it’s like pulling all the drugs away,” she said.
The end of a relationship can be hard to accept, Dr. Beale said, especially if it is a first love and teens don’t know there’s more down the road.
“We get the response of wanting to latch on and hold on to that,” she said. “Those endorphins feel so good that we want to keep going.” Another way to help, she said, is to acknowledge your child’s grief.
“It is a loss. It’s somebody in your life that’s not going to be in your life anymore,” said Beale.
Beale also emphasized encouraging your child to stop and think about the future rather than jump into another relationship. Keeping kids focused on the future is critical, she said.
“They need to understand that emotions are a tunnel, which means you go through it, and you come out the other side,” she said. “So many get in despair because they can’t see that it’s ever going to end. And they end up spiraling down.”
Dr. Beale also recommended parents reach out to a therapist if your child is depressed for weeks, have changes in eating habits or withdraw from their friends.
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