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5 Strategies for Building Mental Strength with Teen Boys

5 Strategies for Building Mental Strength with Teen Boys

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In the heart of suburbia, resides a teenager named James, who once exuded boundless energy but now grapples with the weight of anxiety and depression. James’ days are often spent in solitude, engrossed in video games and endless scrolling on his phone. His once vibrant spirit has dimmed, replaced by a palpable sense of withdrawal and darkness.

James’ parents, Megan and Ryan, observe with growing concern as their son retreats further into his solitary sanctuary. Determined to help James navigate his turbulent teenage years and emerge as a resilient and independent young man, Megan and Ryan embark on a journey to engage him in conversations about mental health.

One crucial aspect of supporting James is recognizing and addressing his fundamental needs as a young man. Males typically have two basic needs to feel fulfilled: 1. feeling strong and 2. feeling needed. By understanding and acknowledging these needs, Megan and Ryan aim to provide James with the support and encouragement he needs to overcome his mental health challenges.

Furthermore, Megan and Ryan realize the importance of drawing parallels between physical and mental health. Just as building physical strength requires consistent effort and dedication, building mental strength also involves deliberate practice and perseverance. By emphasizing the similarities between physical and mental health, Megan and Ryan help James understand that taking care of his mental well-being is just as important as taking care of his physical health.

Here are 5 effective strategies they employ to empower James and fulfill his basic needs of feeling strong and needed while recognizing the similarities between physical and mental health:

1. Prioritize Listening

Megan and Ryan try to listen when those rare moments come up that James wants to talk. They often feel like forcing the discussion but have found that tends to shut James down. By asking exploratory questions about the things James wants to talk about, Megan and Ryan find openings to share experiences and insights from their own lives and how they’ve become more resilient.

Just like a physical trainer first wants to get to know your goals, what you like and what you don’t they then can share specific exercises to help you grow stronger. The same is true as we try to coach someone’s mental health. Boys particularly want someone to mentor them, to show them how, but first they have to feel heard and needed.

2. Encourage Vulnerability

Megan and Ryan openly share their own experiences with mental health challenges, demonstrating to James that vulnerability is a sign of strength, not weakness. They encourage him to express his emotions and seek support when needed, fostering a sense of trust and connection.

Now boys don’t always just want to sit and talk, so encouraging other ways to be vulnerable becomes crucial. Musical expression, art work, even outdoor adventure and hard physical labor teach a young man to explore his boundaries of strength and where he fits into the world. Emotions will naturally come out more easily through action.

Especially trusting them to take on outdoor activities by themselves is incredibly empowering for boys. Let them hike, camp, and engage in sports without you always being there. It teaches them you trust them and they can take on the world without you. As they conquer their own vulnerabilities and us celebrating their successes we all learn to expect set backs, challenges and most importantly that we can overcome them.

3. Provide Mental Health Education

Megan and Ryan educate themselves about various mental health issues affecting teenagers, equipping themselves with the knowledge to support James effectively. They are not ignorant to the dangers of social media, the permeation of pornography, and encouragement of suicide in today’s teenage culture.

Parents today have to take a proactive approach to educate their teen boys about the traps that bring misery and loneliness to life. Boys particularly want to know the why. Why is pornography bad for me? Why is social media dangerous? What’s the big deal if I choose to kill myself? Posing those questions to them first often helps teen boys come upon the solutions themselves. This helps them feel needed as they provide you with insights of how they navigate their teenage life.

Of course this also opens many opportunities to share your own insights and experiences.

4. Set Positive Examples

Megan and Ryan lead by example by prioritizing their own mental well-being and practicing healthy coping mechanisms. They engage in activities as a family that promote mental and emotional health, such as outdoor outings, mindfulness exercises, and creative hobbies.

Particularly Ryan finds that the lessons of nature are best taught on the hiking trail, or on top of a mountain. Young men often gauge their own standing in the world compared to the older males in their lives. The older males provide a sort of compass and roadmap of what to expect in life and the more time the father or male care giver can share with the younger male, the better directed in life he becomes.

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5. Foster a Sense of Purpose

Megan and Ryan involve James in meaningful activities and responsibilities at home, emphasizing his importance within the family unit. This especially keys in on James’ need to feel needed. They praise his contributions and encourage him to pursue his interests and passions, while at the same time introducing him to new activities.

Boys need to be pushed a bit and they appreciate it. That’s why football coaches and fathers often rank among the most influential people in a boys life. This is often very different from females, and it’s because the female’s two most basic needs are to feel beautiful and safe. Pushing a female ofter makes her feel unsafe, while pushing a male often helps him feel strong and needed.

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As Megan and Ryan continue to navigate the complexities of supporting James through his mental health challenges, they remain committed to empowering him to emerge stronger and more resilient. By addressing his fundamental needs of feeling strong and needed, while recognizing the parallels between physical and mental health, they provide James with the tools and support he needs to thrive, and so can you.

5 Strategies for Building Mental Strength with Teen Boys * Best Teen Counseling Utah * Life Launch Centers