While parents know that their children should be seen by their pediatrician for a physical exam, mental health is just as important.

Teenagers can feel difficult. High school is where teenagers make new friends. Teens may feel insecure or overwhelmed by increased academic and athletic competition.

Teenagers can get help from their parents to navigate these challenging years. Parents should first ask their pediatrician for a mental evaluation of their teenager. Because pediatricians have close relationships with their patients it is easier for teenagers to talk about sensitive topics like stress, depression, and sex with them than with their parents.

Teenagers need to have a trusted adult to talk with. This could be a parent, teacher, counselor, or pediatrician. Your teenager should know that anger, sadness, stress and sadness are all normal and that it is possible to talk about these feelings. Remind your teenager about the people she can turn to for support and remind her that reaching out to others is an act of strength and not weakness.

Parents should also make sure they aren’t putting too much pressure onto their teenagers. High expectations can be damaging. However, parents should ensure that their teenagers have strong support networks at home.

“Kids tend to live up, or down, to the expectations of their parents,”Renee Jenkins of American Academy of Pediatrics says so. “Teens who understand what standards are expected of them stand a better chance of setting realistic goals for the future.”

Parents should encourage their teens to feel empowered to make positive changes in their lives. Your teenager may feel stressed if she tells you. Ask your teenager to come up with solutions. Consider the pros and cons of each suggestion, as well as future implications. Choose the best course of action.

Parents can help teens to learn from their mistakes and improve their judgment. Teens will also develop a stronger sense of identity, which will be a tool that will serve them well for the rest of their lives.

Visit the American Academy of Pediatrics for more information about children’s mental health. www.aap.orgSearch for “mental health tips.”