How Can I Help My Teenager Get Through Adolescence?
We all know that being a teenager is tough. The adolescent brain is developing, hormones are raging, coupled with a poor understanding about the consequences of their own actions. Not a great mix for teenagers and terrifying for parents.
How do I protect them? How do I communicate with them? What is going on with them? Are questions we all too often find ourselves asking as parents.
So much transition and so much to consider. Relationships. Peers. Schooling. Career choices. Throw in hormones and developmental changes and it guarantees a turbulent ride.
It is not possible to prevent our kids from experiencing challenges or distressing circumstances. And you know that they will likely experience peer pressure and will not always make the right choices. As care-givers we can help provide them with the skills and attitudes necessary to build resiliency.
What can you do to help?
There are things that you can do to assist your teen develop a good foundation with which to traverse the teenage years. Some of which are more challenging to implement than others.
The following are a few ideas to consider:
- Look for ways to help them develop social wellbeing – encourage strong connections with the community, their school, get involved where possible with your teens outside of school activities. It is especially beneficial where teens can see their impact on the world around them in a positive way.
- Teens are likely to have heard the word “no” many times but now and perhaps may hold negative ideas about themselves. Make a commitment to look for opportunities to offer words of support, give your teen positive feedback when they do something right and make yourself available when they reach out.
- Encourage them on their journey towards independence and developing their own unique values and beliefs. Including providing opportunities to take on more responsibility where appropriate and give them chances to prove their capability.
- Be clear about your own values and beliefs and recognise that these may be different from your teenagers. Encourage dialogue and open communication – wherever possible spend more time listening more than talking. You want to be able to constructively guide them towards making good choices.
It can be hard to work out what is normal and what is not when it comes to teen behaviour and attitude.
When should I get professional help?
It is best to seek professional help if you are at all unsure. It can be difficult to work out what is normal teen behaviour and what may be more of a concern.
There are lots of ways your teen can be supported via therapy or counselling. Including assistance and support with academic problems, concerns over career path, drug and alcohol use, behavioural issues, emotional and self-regulation problems, stress, intimate and social relationship difficulties, conflict with care-giver, dealing with the aftermath of a traumatic event and more.
Signs indicating immediate help may be required. The below problems may escalate if there is no appropriate action taken to intervene.
- Excessive anger or difficulty managing emotions
- Signs of depression or very low mood
- Self-harm/cutting behaviour
- Signs of anxiety or excessive worrying
- Running away
- Involved with illicit activities
- Uncharacteristic mood or behaviour
- Substance use
- Eating problems, not eating or over-eating
- Increasing disobedience and/or rebelliousness
- Sexual acting out or risky behaviour
As a first step, you can talk to your teens doctor or a mental health professional trained in working with young people.
Therapy is an avenue available that can provide your teenager with more self-support, skills and resources to assist them cope with these difficult years. If you would like assistance, or discuss further contact a Wellbeing Therapy Space psychologist on 1300 208 680.