Do You Feel like You’ve Lost Your Teenager?
- Is your teen shutting you out, spending hours alone either texting or absorbed in the Internet?
- Does your teen come home with poor grades or receive negative feedback from teachers regarding defiant behavior or lack of engagement with peers?
- Are you concerned that your teen is having trouble understanding complicated feelings regarding love and sex?
- Does your teen struggle to make friends, seem alienated by social cliques, or experience bullying at school?
- Are you concerned about excessive exercise or dieting and worry that your teen may have an eating disorder?
- Do you wonder whether anxiety about good grades or social standing has caused your teen to seek comfort in things like drugs, alcohol or sex?
- Is even the smallest conversation with your teen a struggle?
- Do you feel powerless about how to help your teen through the tumultuous turmoil of adolescence and desperately wish you could restore the relationship you once had?
If your teenager has shut out the world—and you along with it—you probably feel as though your heart is breaking. High school can be a difficult time for teens. These years often create anxiety about getting good grades, fitting in or navigating social groups. Your teen might agonize over social cliques at school, feel like he or she isn’t attractive or skinny enough or fret over having few or no friends. You may even have difficulty getting your teen out of bed in the morning, finding that he or she doesn’t want to go to school because the social anxiety is overwhelming. As a parent, you may feel powerless to help your teen. You might sit awake at night worrying about your teen’s excessive dieting or exercise, wonder whether he or she is experimenting with drugs or alcohol, or have concerns about your teen’s friendships and/or romantic relationships. Once home from school, your teen might avoid discussing the day, perhaps going to his or her room and locking the door—effectively shutting you out. Perhaps you feel like you’ve somehow failed as a parent and that you’ve lost your child. You may desperately wish you could reach out to your teen, but feel you lack the tools to do so.
Teenagers Often Experience Complicated Feelings During High School
If your teen seems alienated, has difficulty making new friends or is giving you the silent treatment, you are not alone. Many parents feel estranged from their children during adolescence – a time when many teens’ main desire is to escape from the world. For a lot of teens, high school functions like a mini society in which social segregation and fitting in mean everything. High school is a particularly trying time for girls, who can obsess over their appearance, feeling as though they don’t have the right clothes, can’t attract a romantic partner or aren’t skinny enough. It’s common for teens to experience anxiety and/or depression if they have trouble establishing meaningful relationships with peers. For teens who don’t “fit in,” simply going to class can elicit anxiety, which may explain why your teen dreads going to school in the morning, appearing only to go out of a sense of obligation. To cope with the pressures of social and academic life, some teens look for fulfillment in romantic relationships, while others may begin to experiment with drugs and alcohol. They may refuse to answer questions about their day, leaving mom and dad frustrated by their lack of communication.
With the Help of Teen Counseling, Your Child Can Begin to Prosper in all Areas of Life
High school doesn’t have to wreak havoc on your teen’s self-esteem. As a therapist who has been working with teens for six years, I have the skills to help your teen become more secure in him or herself, improve academic achievement and find fulfillment in relationships. In teen counseling sessions, your teen can begin to draw strength from the things he or she does best. Building on strengths and engaging in enjoyed activities—like art, music, or other extracurricular pursuits—helps build confidence, which can ultimately help your teen find happiness in other areas of life. If your teen struggles academically, I can meet with teachers with your teen’s consent, visit his or her classroom, help develop organizational skills and even discuss homework.
If you’re feeling hurt over your teen’s refusal to speak to you about what’s going on at school, know that there are some topics—such as a breakup with a partner or feelings about the body—that are too embarrassing for some teens to discuss with parents. A parent is a child’s greatest advocate, but often all that’s needed is an unbiased, trusted adult to enable your teen to open up about the issues that are causing him or her pain. With the help of therapy, teens can talk through their problems, identify issues that are creating anxiety and learn to manage complicated emotions.
Although you may be feeling helpless as a parent, know that things can get better. Through the help of teen counseling, your teenager can become more self-confident and self-aware and learn to appreciate his or her authentic self-worth rather than relying on things like beauty, popularity or romantic relationships for affirmation.
You may be ready to take the next step toward teen counseling, but still may have some questions or concerns…
I’m worried teen counseling will cause others to look at my teen differently.
People may look at your teen differently, but only because he or she is making positive changes. If your child succeeds in teen counseling, then you should be proud that he or she is taking steps toward healing. Even as adults we constantly strive to “fit in” in one way or another. It’s best to take care of your teen’s problems now and risk judgment than to let your teen encounter the same anxieties and anti-social behavior in adulthood, when the consequences can be much more dire.
My teenager is just going through the typical growing pains of adolescence. These issues will resolve themselves on their own.
While it’s true that almost every teenager experiences some social anxiety and estrangement, are you really willing to risk the possibility your teen’s problems may be more serious than just growing pains? The experiences we have as teenagers leave lasting impressions on our self-confidence as adults. In fact, many adults find themselves still dealing with issues like friendship, love and social status that started out in high school. Don’t let your teen’s unresolved issues travel with him or her to college and beyond. It’s best to tackle your teen’s emotional issues now so that they can be healthy and self-sufficient in the future.
I’m worried I’ll find out I’m a bad parent.
Stop being so hard on yourself! You wouldn’t be researching help if you were failing as a parent. By reading this website, you’re already on the road to becoming the best parent you can be. In our teen counseling sessions we’ll focus primarily on your teen, but you may find yourself learning some new parenting tools as well.