As parents it’s sometimes difficult to know where we stand with teenagers. As children newborns and babies they looked up to us for everything, now they want us to drop them around the corner so we won’t embarrass them in front of their friends, but they still need love and support and someone to listen to them. As our children grow up, our relationship with them changes. Parent counselling (therapy) can help.
I has worked with children, teens and parents using tried and tested family counselling (therapy) techniques to help them create loving peaceful relationships and has many strategies which can help today’s modern families, including how to work the the complexities of step children and complex family relationships.
How it used to be
As a Parent, mother, father even a grandparent, you used to be a very Powerful figure. You knew everything about your Child’s life, they listened wide eyed to what you said and believed it all. You made the decisions about their life, if you insisted that something be done, it got done. You as a parent, a mum or dad knew what was best for your Child and they accepted it.
How it is with a teenager
With a Teenager, things are totally different. Once they turned to you for Help and Advice, now it’s the Opinion of Friends that matters. Once you knew everything, now you know nothing about anything important, like Music, Friends, Relationships and Fashion. In working out what he believes in, your Teenager’s first step may be rejection of your values. Skeptical and challenging of your authority, your teenager will resist your attempts to Control them.
Where it’s going
Good parents actually work themselves out of a job. They take a baby who was totally dependent and turn them into a Competent, fully functioning Adult who can manage their own life. This process involves stepping back as the growing Child takes on more and more control of their own life. Sometimes parents need counselling to help them let go of their children.
What your Teenager wants and needs from you
Despite the Bravado and the Mantra ‘It’s my life’, your teenager still needs your support, your understanding, and finally freedom. Remember, underneath the clothes, make-up, hair or whatever it is you don’t like, they are still the same person. They may talk a lot about freedom but they are still making the transition to adulthood, and want your help and guidance on the way, even when it looks or sounds like they don’t want or need it.
Coaching for parents
Teenagers struggle with their identity: The list of things teens worry about is long.
- What do other people think about them
- What do they believe in
- Their appearance
- Lack Of Confidence
- The Future
Friends are very important and Rejection or Criticism by the Peer Group is Hurtful and leads to Feelings of Uncertainty and Lack of Self-Worth. At the same time, they are put under increasing pressure to Succeed Academically. When crises occurs, your Teenager needs you to believe in them. It is not wrong for you to ask for help from a professional.
Someone To Listen
The most important skill a parent of a teenager needs above all others is the ability to listen. Parents should use their ears and mouth in proportion – listen twice as much as you speak and try to Understand the situation from your teenager’s point of view. This can be difficult, we automatically want them to avoid the mistakes we made growing up. If you feel stuck talk to an experienced professional.
Listening doesn’t mean you have to ‘agree’
Listening to your teen doesn’t mean you will agree with or accept everything your teen has to say. You will still have your own viewpoint, but by listening will show that you show a willingness to try to Understand. As you Listen to your Teen, you may realise that you are never going to agree with them. But don’t stop listening. When they have finished, state briefly and unemotionally what you think they have said. Then get them to agree that you have properly understood. Then tell them that you do understand, but you still don’t agree. They won’t like it, they will probably accuse you of not listening, but at least you have done them the courtesy of listening properly and it is possible that you’ll get some credit for that.
This method of listening is adapted from ‘How to Talk so Kids Will Listen and Listen So Kids Will Talk’ by Adele Faber and Elaine Mazlish.
Listen to me and I’ll listen to you
If your Teen seems likely to make a decision you don’t like, don’t give unsolicited advice, criticise, lecture or boss. If it’s not an important decision, then you will get credit for listening and accepting your Teen’s right to make up their own mind. This will stand you in good stead when a really important decision is under discussion. The fact that you listen to him/her will encourage them to listen to you and maybe they will be influenced by what you have to say next time.
When your child learned to ride a bicycle, the time came to let go of the saddle, even though you feared your child might fall off and hurt her/himself. Similarly, as the parent of a Teen, you have to learn to let go and take the risk that your teenager will make mistakes. Experience is the best teacher. We all learn from the consequences of our decisions. Without this Learning, your teenager will not become a fully functioning Independent adult.If you are struggling with this talk to an online counsellor who has experience of working with children, Teens and Parents talk to Paul he is an experienced online therapist and family practitioner who has worked directly with young children and Teens online and face to face, so he has a wealth of understanding which parents find extremely useful in learning to understand their children and their changing relationships.
Understanding child and Teen behaviour
Listening, so Your Teen will Talk. In a group as intimate as a family, it’s easy to think that you’ve heard it all before, that you know what your Teen’s think, or what they should think. It is vital that you actually listen to them and look like you are listening too. Don’t assume you already know
Children grow up and develop their own views. It’s a new situation now, your Teenager may regard your views as old-fashioned and outdated. If you want to have any kind of dialogue with your Teen, you have to recognise that they have their own strongly held opinions. Discussion rather than telling them they are wrong is much more effective.
While Listening to our Teens, we may notice that they have a slight cold, need a haircut or want to correct their pronunciation. Concentrate on what they are saying, forget how they look and how they’re speaking. Give your Teen the courtesy of giving them your full attention. It will also teach them how to listen in return. Pay attention to the message not the messenger.
Don’t let your feelings block your ears
There are many Emotional ‘Triggers’ that can stop us from listening. Talking about drugs and sex is difficult and, instead of listening, Parents can easily fall into the trap of lecturing and warning. Chances are, your Teen has heard the lecture and had the warning already. What they want is Information and advice about something that concerns or worries them. When you feel angry, worried or anxious about what you are hearing, make a conscious effort to control your feelings and listen.
The first step in Active Listening is to be attentive. stop whatever it is you’re doing and give your teenager with your full attention. Acknowledge what is said with a brief listening response: Yeah Oh, hmm and then wait. Don’t jump in with advice, solutions, put downs, lectures or sermons. Your non-committal response allows your Teen to continue to explore their own thoughts and feelings.
Name the Feeling
Underlying most of the things your child says to you, there is more than likely an unexpressed feeling or worry. To enable your teenager to express the feeling or worry, give the feeling a name. An example of this is given below:
Teen: This maths project sucks.
Teen: It’s boring.
Mother: You’re not in the mood for it?
Teen: No. I can’t do these equations. They’re stupid.
Mother: Sounds like you’re having problems?
Teen: Yes.. (tells mother what is giving them trouble)
This mother listened and allowed her teenager to express their anxieties.
She didn’t butt in with reassurances like ‘Oh, it’ll be okay if you concentrate on it’ nor orders ‘Get on with your project now’ nor did she deny her Teen’s feelings with ‘Maths has always been your best subject’
By naming feelings, she encouraged her to talk through the worries.
When it feels too tough
If Parenting has become a battle of wits you are probably going to get nowhere, you will isolate yourself from your child and your child will be left without that one person who can look out, support and protect them. A misunderstood teenager or child can be demanding and challenging.
If you Feel talking to an experienced professional and parent about your parent/child relationships, you can contact Paul to take a step back and look at your options.
You can do this via email, secure online real time chat, MSN, Yahoo Messenger or Skype chat. You can get help from the comfort of your own home.
Dear online Counselor
My Fourteen year old son continually spits. Is this just a disgusting habit or could something be medically wrong? He has some other not so tasteful bad habits too.
I am not sure how to talk to him these days and feel a little ashamed about that.
A worried parent.
Hello worried parent,
Thank you for your message. Spitting is a habit that a lot of young people acquire. You could maybe begin by asking your son if there is any irritation in his mouth or throat. If so, maybe it would be a good idea to consult your GP or Doctor for some advice as I am not medically trained. It is also worth observing his friends, do they spit too?
Young people, boy’s in particular are under a lot of pressure from their Peers to fit in, this may explain some of his newly acquired habits. The most effective tool in supporting your son through these difficult years is dialogue and by listening to him.
If you would like to learn how to talk and connect with your Teenage son, you may find some Parent Coaching useful.I have worked with many parents to help them understand the changing needs of young people, please rest assured that you are not alone in feeling a little lost.
Have a look at the relationships page, you may find it useful in creating a better relationship with your son.
If you need some help with that, please don’t hesitate to get back to me and we can work on it together.
Best wishes Paul, online counsellor (therapist) and online life coach.