Supporting Your Child Through Teen Counseling
The ages between thirteen and nineteen are well known as being years that can be extremely difficult for both the teen and their parents to navigate. Charged with emotional, physical, and social changes, it is confusing and tumultuous. This is only exacerbated by the fact that today’s teenagers are growing up in disturbing times and confronted by a number of difficult realities.Teen counseling can provide a useful platform for families to equip themselves with what is needed to make sense of and process various situations, ranging from minor issues right through to more serious problems.
It is a parent’s responsibility to confront negative behavior with their teen, discuss uncomfortable situations, and perform their God-given role of establishing boundaries with appropriate consequences for infringements. When a Christian counselor is on hand to provide additional support, there can be an enormous benefit to all involved.
How do I know if therapy is needed?
Parents may seek the guidance of a counselor for their teen for a variety of reasons. Therapy certainly doesn’t need to be reserved for traumatic events or serious mental health issues. In fact, getting early intervention from a trained professional can go a long way toward preventing small problems from spiraling out of control.
Sometimes just a few teen counseling sessions to talk out some feelings can boost a teenager’s sense of well-being. However, if you notice telltale signs such as your teen withdrawing emotionally, physical changes, and other behavior that seems “off”; it would be worth considering a third party.
Some of these behaviors may include the following:
A change in routine
Teenagers are renowned for spending hours alone in their bedrooms. But if you notice that your teen is spending all her time away from the family, and in no way engaging as she might have done in the past, this would be a red flag of concern.
Loss of interest
If your teen displays a loss of interest in hobbies and activities which they previously enjoyed, teen counseling might be necessary. Your teen might also seem unwilling to stay connected with his friends, which is unusual for teenagers, who have a deep desire to engage with their peer groups.
Observe any changes in sleep and eating patterns. If your teen seems to sleep far more than they ever used to, or their appetite seems to have rapidly diminished, this is a physical indication that something is not right. Your teen may show a “slowness” in activities – climbing the stairs sluggishly, responding to questions slowly, or dragging himself out of bed even more than normal.
An increase in reckless behavior is also a warning sign. It can be linked to things such as experimenting with alcohol or drugs, sneaking out, risky driving or physical aggression. These indications would call for immediate intervention through teen counseling.
When a teen’s mental health is not in a good state, venturing out with friends might seem intimidating and overwhelming. If you find your teen is declining invitations that they might have previously enjoyed or saying no to suggestions they would have otherwise leaped at, be sure to heed the telltale sign that teen counseling needs to be put on the agenda.
What does teen counseling address?
Counselors often engage with teens who are suffering from the following issues:
Depression is a difficult illness to self-diagnose. If your teen feels sad and has a low mood most of the time, make an appointment with your medical practitioner to rule out any physical conditions before considering therapy. Mood disorders often start in the teen years. An early and accurate diagnosis can prevent a lifetime of anguish if properly treated, both medically and with counseling.
Today’s teens face enormous pressure, both academically and socially. With social media and screen time being such a feature of their lives, anxiety is rife. While some degree of anxiety and worry is normal under these circumstances, intense anxiety that disrupts large aspects of a teenager’s life needs to be addressed. Teen counseling can assist with getting to the heart of what causes the anxiety, as well as teaching coping skills such as deep breathing to manage symptoms.
Stress is something that can either be harnessed to help us reach high performance, or it can crush us and produce the opposite effect. If your teen buckles under exam pressure or shows signs of not being able to cope in other stressful situations, a counselor can help with imparting valuable skills that will serve them throughout their lives.
Trauma and grief
The death of a loved one and other losses affect everyone in the family. Adolescents who are already experiencing upheaval as they navigate the teen years might be even harder hit. Be sure to look out for the young people and how they are being supported through life’s difficulties. Just as adults receive counseling for trauma, so too do teens who have been through events that take a certain level of emotional maturity to process.
Substance abuse issues
Unfortunately, the teenage years are often a period when addictions can take root, as independent teens experiment with drugs and alcohol. While some may be able to moderate their use, others cannot do so and find the escapism offered by substance abuse too tempting.
This can result in a variety of behavioral issues, academic decline, and anti-social or aggressive behavior. It is very difficult for parents to navigate substance abuse with their teens, and the early involvement by a trained counselor is highly advised.
What are more ways to support my teen?
In addition to teen counseling, there are ways in which parents can interact with their teenagers to help them come through their difficulties more easily. These are ways in which the relationship bond is strengthened, and communication channels are opened wider. These include:
Find something you enjoy doing together.
Unless you have a point of connection, a teen who is struggling emotionally will typically clam up. Any attempt to have an honest conversation is then simply not an option. The key is to delve into their world – listen to the music they listen to, read some of the books they like – to show them that you appreciate their interests and want to be involved. This will go a long way towards paving the way to good communication.
Empathize with what they’re going through.
Teen problems may seem trivial given the difficulties adulthood produces. But to the teenager, the problems are significant. A parent can validate this by letting their child know that they feel for what they are experiencing. Parents might wish to share stories from their own teenage years, which makes whatever is being discussed more relatable. Don’t compare teen and adult problems and try to step into their shoes to remember what it felt like to be at such an uncertain age.
Empathize with what they’re going through.
Teen problems may seem trivial given the difficulties adulthood produces. But to the teenager, the problems are significant. A parent can validate this by letting their child know that they feel for what they are experiencing.
Parents might wish to share stories from their own teenage years, which makes whatever is being discussed more relatable. Don’t compare teen and adult problems and try to step into their shoes to remember what it felt like to be at such an uncertain age.
Let them know you’re there for support.
It can be difficult to reach your teen when you can see that they are struggling. Regardless, you need to assure them that you are there for them. Be prepared to even put down what you are working on to show them support. Good eye contact and active listening are essential elements of healthy conversations.
Teen counseling can be a real gift to your child. It shows them that you love them and are willing to invest in helping them through their challenges. Counseling is also valuable support for parents, who can tend to feel helpless about their teen’s issues and may not have the perspective needed to see the situation clearly.
A trained Christian counselor is the best person to approach, given that the teenager will no doubt be strongly influenced by the counselor and the worldview they portray. Give us a call today to start teen counseling.
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