Are you struggling to parent a teen? Is your child, who was once sweet and compliant, now a total mystery? Are you tired of resorting to threats or yelling? Are you worried about your child and don’t know where to turn?
You’ve come to the right place!
We are experts in adolescent development, communication, relationships and struggles. We have developed numerous effective clinical techniques to help your teen (and your family) understand what is happening, learn and adopt strategies to manage, and grow!
Here are some helpful tips for healthy parenting a teen:
Understand Their Development:
Power struggles are common place in parent teen relationships. This is true for three main reasons:
- Hormones. Generally this starts as much as two years earlier in girls then in boys. Puberty, which is part of healthy development, can wreak havoc on your child’s emotions, moods and temperament. Have patience…It doesn’t seem like it, but it will pass. This is a new and scary time for your child as well. And - you've been through it too! Use compassion and empathy to help your child manage the bumpy road of hormonal shifts.
- Cognitive Abilities. Abstract reasoning and critical thinking skills begin to develop during puberty and, some experts say, continue until a person’s mid-twenties. Teens can now think in gray areas and are no longer bound to their black and white thoughts. It is healthy for teens to test out their new thinking…what better place to do it than with their parents who will always love them?
- Beliefs. Teens begin to develop their own beliefs about themselves and the world, despite what their parents have taught them. They learn to express their opinions and assert their individuality. This is healthy and expected. Although some parents may secretly hope that their child becomes a mini clone, this isn’t healthy developmentally. Expect your child to be unique in many ways. Learn to embrace them.
Strategize. Be Effective. Follow these Helpful Suggestions:
- Learn to speak in a calm but firm tone. Yelling and screaming doesn’t typically help. (Remember how it felt when you were a kid).
- Take deep breaths. Walk away for a breather if you need.
- Be consistent with the limits and rules.
- Determine consequences to a particular behavior before it happens and outline it clearly with them. Write it down and keep in a visible place – this will help avoid the ubiquitous “you never told me that!” response.
- Use natural and logical consequences. Keep it reasonable – don’t threaten to keep them in their rooms for a year, especially if you know you can’t stick with it (as much as you may want to).
- Expect non-compliance. Testing the limits is normal behavior for a teenager.
- Listen to their feelings and keep an open mind. You still have the ability to say no, so why not listen to what they have to say.
- Stay rational and remember the big picture – many of us put our parent through some paces and we turned out okay – it’s a right of passage for a teenager.
Take Care of Yourself:
Most of us have heard the airplane announcement to “put the oxygen mask over your nose and mouth first before putting on your minor child”. At first this doesn’t make sense – wouldn’t I take care of my child first? Then the reality sinks in…if I am helpless, my child is likely to be as well. Parent self care is critical to effective family relationships.
In order to improve your self care, you can:
- Exercise regularly
- Get enough sleep
- Eat nourishing, frequent meals
- Take time with friends
- Spend time in nature
- Read (leisure reading, not parenting books)
- Have a weekly date night with your partner
- Take a class
- Practice a sport or hobby
- Eliminate guilt! Your teens deserves a happy, healthy and fulfilled parent.
When is it not “normal” teen development or behavior? How do I know when it’s time to seek professional help? If:
- Your child or teen has mentioned wanting to “die” or hurt themselves, you must take this comment seriously. For an imminent threat, take them to the local emergency room or call 911. Then, find a child/adolescent therapist or psychiatrist for ongoing evaluation and therapy.
- Your child has unexplained cuts or scars on his/her body
- Your child’s mood has shifted over time and isn’t bouncing back
- You notice a change in your child’s appetite or weight – this could be a sign of Depression or an Eating Disorder
- He/she is spending more time along and/or in his/her bedroom
- Your child’s grades have shown a pattern of dropping without academic reason
- You notice a decrease in motivation for activities your child once enjoyed
- Your child has more consistent physical complaints such as headaches, stomach aches, etc.
- Your child is refusing to attend school or social events, or seems overly anxious doing so
- You notice increased sleeping, restlessness or insomnia
- Your child’s social circle is significantly changing or diminishing
- You notice signs of alcohol or drug abuse
- Your child or family has experienced any trauma, including death of a loved one
- Transitions in your child’s life are causing undo stress
- Your child is crying more than usual or acting out in a new way (more withdrawn or more aggressive)
If you suspect your child is experiencing a mental health struggle, he/she probably is. Trust your parental instinct – you know your child better than anyone.
Call us today to discuss whether or not therapy might be helpful to for your teen and family at this time. No obligation at all! Just a friendly, confidential chat to see what we offer and how it might help.
We offer Daytime, Evening and Weekend Appointments for your convenience. We are here to help! Email us today.