During times of high emotions, teens may not be able to vocalize how they’re feeling and what they may need in the moment. An effective safety plan details the tools and resources that are beneficial for the teen, parents, and other caregivers in various situations.
A safety plan might include a list of favorite songs, television shows, or scents that help soothe the teen’s emotions. It might include grounding activities such as petting a dog, breathing and muscle relaxation exercises or talking with a friend who provides helpful distraction.
A school specific safety plan might include the opportunity for a teen to go the bathroom to splash cold water on their face. A more tangible version of the safety plan, the self-care kit serves a similar purpose in ensuring quick and easy access to effective coping and communication tools based on the teen’s need.
Items might include a photo of a loved one, a special piece of jewelry to wear, a favorite piece of memorabilia, a worry stone, a stress ball, sour candy or essential oils. Color-coded index cards to represents different emotions are also useful to include. For example, a red card — or even saying the word red — could communicate to family members what the teen needs in an accessible, immediate way.
The biggest thing adults can do to help teens juggle all that’s happening in their world, is to offer a safe, nonjudgmental space to express their feelings. Primary care physicians, guidance counselors and peer groups along with mental health professionals can all provide extra support.
At Penn Medicine Princeton House Behavioral Health, treatment programs for adolescents include a comprehensive evaluation by a board-certified psychiatrist, evidence-based treatment, medication evaluation and management as needed, group and individual therapy, family education groups, and expressive therapies such as art and music. Treatment can help teens:
– Improve self-control and coping ability.
– Regain emotional stability.
– Function in healthier ways at school and home.
– Understand the connection between emotion dysregulation and eating disorders.
Providing teens with the resources and tools to build effective coping skills can help them successfully navigate adolescence and can bring a greater level of confidence to their ability to handle the ups and downs of life.
For more information about Penn Medicine Princeton House Behavioral Health programs for children and adolescents, call (888) 437-1610 or visit PrincetonHouse.org.