It’s devastating—watching your kid suffer through his or her first broken heart. As adults, we’ve all been there and know that break-ups are not only inevitable but also survivable, yet still—when our children hurt, we hurt, too. We want to “fix” a situation for them that actually requires their own attention.
On the bright side, first-time break-ups offer a wonderful opportunity to develop both healthy grieving skills and resiliency. Here are some tips on helping your teen or tween get past that first crushing break:
- Spend a lot of time just listening. Try not to rush in with suggestions, or worse, telling your child that he or she is “better off without them” or, “first loves typically don’t last, anyway.” Remember how gaga you were over your first love—that you knew he or she was the perfect one for you? That’s probably how your child is feeling, too.
- Share your own stories. Depending on your child, it may be helpful for him or her to hear your own stories of loss, and how you handled them. This isn’t a time for lecturing but rather an opportunity to show that you’re human, too.
- Ask your child how you can help them. Each one is different; some might need quiet time, while others would prefer healthy distractions such as exercise or hanging out with friends. Offer your time to them, and let them decide whether to use it.
- Watch for signs of depression. If your child is struggling with low energy, loss of appetite, or failing grades, don’t hesitate to seek counseling. While grief following a break-up is natural, prolonged depression may require the help of a professional.