Parenting teenagers is not easy in today's world. As teens begin to define who they are, they commonly face the frustration inherent to being caught in time warp between being a child and an adult. In an attempt to demonstrate control over their own lives, adolescents may purposely do poorly in school, can develop eating disorders or other forms of self-harm, or rebel against parents, teachers and other authority figures involved in their lives.
My philosophy is that both teens and their parents need to be essentially armed with an educational Tool Belt of coping mechanisms, life interventions, and practical solutions for challenges they face now and in their future. With this knowledge, teens can be taught how to take control of their lives, elevate their mood, reduce depression and anxiety, foster intrinsic motivation, increase academic performance, and become more self-reliant rather than dependant on friends, family and others for their own emotional needs.
From both personal and professional experience, providing teenagers and their parents access to the tools I teach lends for a less turbulent adolescence and a smoother, more confident transition into adulthood.
|How to Talk to Your Teen
- Do not engage your teenager the minute they enter the house or car with a barrage of questions about their day. Let them settle in for 30-45 minutes before you check in.
- Spend time truly listening to your teen and spend less time preaching or solving their problems. And at least pretend to be interested in what they actually have to say.
- If your teen does not talk much or gives you the one-word utterances, take them to lunch with no cell phones or texting allowed. Do not talk at all initially and allow for 30 seconds or more of an uncomfortable silence. Teens will often start to panic because the silence is awkward and uncomfortable and will begin to fill that empty space you have created with conversation.
|Teens in Crisis - What to Look For
Depression, eating disorders and anxiety will cause teens behavior to change. If your teen presents most of the symptoms below, talk to a professional soon.
- Noticeable changes in sleep patterns; sleeping more or less than normal
- Difficulty concentrating
- Noticeable changes in diet/food intake
- Drop in grades
- No longer enjoy normally enjoyable activities
- Frequent occurrence of headaches, stomachaches, or irritable bowel movements
- Socially isolative behaviors
- They become more irritable or rebellious than usual
- Spyware on your teen's computer and cell phones is worth considering. Many of the problems with teens and their families are due to the parents' lack of knowledge about what is happening behind the scenes with their son/daughter. You can view a demonstration of how this works at www.mobile-spy.com
- Have an evening curfew for all electronics. Cell phones should be charged in the parent's rooms, video game controllers and laptops should be taken to the parents room as well.
- Teach your teens "techno manners." This means no texting at the dinner table, whether at home or out. As a house rule, when someone is talking to you, stop what you are doing on your phone and make eye contact with that person. This goes for parents, too.
|Substance Abuse Warning Signs
While these warning signs may seem obvious, it is imperative that parents take note even if only one of these signs is present:
- Decline in grades
- Your teen returns home smelling like perfume/cologne, chewing gum or mints, or in different clothes than when they left.
- Upon returning home, your teen goes immediately to bed or to take a shower
- Noticeable changes in sleep patterns and duration; sleeps a lot or a lot during the day
- Red eyes; some substances will dilate pupils or cause eyes to be reddened
- Drug/Alcohol slang references in social communications