Anyone moving from childhood to adulthood will experience romantic heartbreak. Some shrug it off, while others react negatively. Here's how to support a teenager through this difficult time.
Understand and sympathize. The first rush of love was probably exciting and compelling for your teen, and the breakup emotions can be just as intense. While those emotions may seem out of proportion, it's better not to discount them.
Listen, listen, listen. Your teen may or may not want to talk about a first heartbreak, but you need to be all ears no matter what.
React carefully. Sometimes the best reaction to what your teen is to simply nod without saying a word. It encourages continued conversation but without casting judgment. If you are asked a direct question, think before answering. Your teen might say, "But you liked her too, so why aren't you sad about this?" You may be doing cartwheels inside but refrain from showing it, as your teen may shut off the conversation.
Give it time. Depending on the teen, what else is going on and support from friends, the heartbreak may last hours, days or weeks.
Emphasize your teen's qualities. Talk about her achievements, style, brains, athletic ability or artistic talent.
Do something special. Diverting a teen's first heartbreak emotions is not as easy as ice cream for a skinned knee when he was little, but it does help. A day trip, window shopping, a ball game or organizing a sleepover for friends are all possible diversions.
- Friends will sympathize over the first heartbreak, but they may lose interest quickly and before your teen is over the incident.
- Don't go overboard. A short supportive comment is better than a long conversation when it comes to teens.
- Be watchful and aware. Intense emotions are normal, but prolonged depression and withdrawal are not. Use your instincts. If you are concerned, seek professional advice.