Your teen is undergoing a number of changes on a daily basis. Adolescents face tremendous amounts of growth and transition, both physically and psychologically. With so many moving parts, it’s natural that this time is often accompanied by a lot of growing pains.
Adolescence is all about exploration and discovery as kids begin fashioning their own identity for the first time. Driven by factors both internal and external, these changes are necessary to transition from childhood to adulthood, and many of them are exciting for parents to witness.
However, teenagers’ desire to pull away from parents and create their own identity really kicks into overdrive and leaves them open to a lot of other experiences. Even though in this period a successful adult is emerging, this time is inherently challenging to most teens (and their parents). There are also a lot of modern issues to navigate. Technology and social media have raised the stakes on socializing, dating, peer pressure, bullying, and so much more. Teenagers, simply put, have a lot more to contend with these days.
There’s no manual for raising a teenager. However, there are signs when your teen needs more help to cope in a healthier way.
Have you noticed your teen withdrawing from the things he or she used to love?
Are they surrounded by friends you worry are unsafe?
Has your teen had a hard time maintaining healthy relationships or a positive self-image?
Many teens struggle to adjust to the increased social and academic demands of high school and often feel like they can’t “keep up”. Against the backdrop of the internal biological and psychological changes and all the new external pressures in their environment, many teens are also dealing with difficult situations at home that often max out their ability to cope. Some are dealing with separation, divorce, remarriage of parents, serious illness or loss of a loved one, and more. Also, as they start to enter into more adult thinking patterns, some teenagers may also find themselves worrying about adult problems, like the financial stability of their family.
Again, although adolescence presents an array of challenges, there are so many amazing experiences and milestones. I believe this time presents a unique opportunity for positive change in a teenager’s life. Since their minds are already beginning to expand and consider new possibilities for the future, it makes sense that intervening in this time period will yield powerful results.
With the right support, teens can get help answering the big questions they face daily: Who am I? Who are my real friends? What am I good at?
Teenagers naturally have a strong desire for autonomy, and I know that the last thing many of them want is to meet with a counselor. I know this because I was once a teenager who was a reluctant participant in counseling.
If your teenager is having problems and is resistant to the idea of coming to counseling, it’s okay. That’s a very common starting point.
That strong desire for privacy and autonomy comes with being a teenager, so I take that into account when meeting them. I understand the importance of being genuine and building a strong connection with them before we can begin working on mutual goals.
I also believe in putting them in the driver’s seat of their counseling, so to speak. I truly believe that each client I see is the true expert on his or her own life, and I am just a guide to help clarify what is going on. My goal is to empower teens by helping them develop and implement their own solutions to problems.
After a productive counseling experience, you may notice that your teenager has more emotional control, with new insight and perspective into certain situations. They will be able to make healthy adjustments in their lives, because they have identified their own values and have begun to understand how much they matter. And, although disappointments and setbacks still happen, you’ll see your teen using a new set of proven coping skills as a way to better his or her life and the lives of others.
No matter what your teenager is experiencing, help is available. This is such a potent time full of so many possibilities. Let’s maximize that potential by supporting them in becoming the healthy man or woman they were always meant to be.