When heartbreak happens

Last week we talked about showing yourself some love and appreciation on Valentine's Day this year. This week we want to talk to you about the flipside of love: heartbreak. It happens to everyone, and can be felt poignantly on holidays like Valentine's Day that put a big emphasis on love. 

For parents, watching your tween or teen experience their first heartbreak can bring back your own memories of love lost. Maybe you feel like it's just no big deal, and why are they taking it so hard anyways? Perhaps your family has rules against dating, and you figure that will protect your daughter from heartbreak. The truth is, heartbreak can happen even if your tween doesn't date, it can hurt as much as it does for an adult, and it can be painful for moms & dads to witness. So what do you do to help your daughter get through it?

  • Take her seriously. This doesn't mean adding to the drama, but it's important for her to know that you understand that her feelings matter. 
  • Listen without judgment. Maybe she's overreacting, maybe you just don't like her crush. Whatever the case may be, listen to her and let her know you're there for her. You don't have to jump in to fix things, as much as you may want to. Just let her cry on your shoulder, and when she's ready, help her find fun things to do to lift her spirits. 
  • Encourage her to keep her connection with friends. Talking it out can be a way for girls to process complex emotions, and having friends to share private thoughts with is a valuable part of the healing process. This also helps her refocus her attention on people who treat her with kindness and respect.
  • Give her space. She may need time to listen to sad music, write in her journal or mope around the house. That's okay. Think of this as her decompression time, even if it means listening to the same song 1000 times. If you worry that her sadness has developed into something more serious, then it may be time to consider having her talk with a professional about ways to cope with emotions.
  • Model what you wish to see in her. Heartbreak comes in many forms, whether it's rejection from a friend, losing a job or promotion, having someone you love move far away. When it happens to you, walk your daughter through the process of resilience. Let her know it's okay to be hurt or sad, and show her how to express and cope with those feelings in a healthy way. Use positive self-talk and share the message that heartbreak happens to us all, and that what matters most is how we bounce back and become stronger.

For more on heartbreak in teens, visit Family Circle and Disney Family.