Think back to when you were a teenager. Most adults look back at their teenage years as an exciting time with new privileges, more freedom and exciting developments like driving, dating and making life choices more independently. But the difficulties of those years were there too. Those years can be a time of anxiety, rebellion, anger and sometimes depression. Being a teenager is also different than it was just a few years ago. It is harder to find opportunities to build self confidence and self reliance.
There are fewer opportunities for entry level employment than there were when the area had more farms and small businesses. School consolidation means that fewer students are on athletic teams. Reduction in school music and art programs means fewer students develop artistic and musical talents. As a parent, how can you know what’s normal and what behavior indicates that it might be time to investigate Upper Valley counseling? Here are two ways to think about teen behavior:
One thing to keep in mind when it comes to teen rebellion is that your experiences may be very different from the experiences of your children. In the decades since you were a teenager, not only are teenage years more difficult, but parenting norms and expectations are different. Maybe you rebelled in obvious ways or perhaps your rebellion was more subtle. Instead of comparing your experiences to those of your children, let’s look at the outcomes.
When teenagers are moody, unresponsive or combative it may be stressful, worrisome or upsetting. If you can take an objective look at their behavior, are they taking big risks? Are they engaging in dangerous behavior or becoming self-destructive? If you know (or suspect) the answer is ‘yes’, it may be time to think about a counseling intervention. If their actions are irritating but aren’t dangerous, they may be going through life changes normally…even if they are more difficult to cope with as a parent.
Anyone who lives with a teenager (or was one themselves) knows that outbursts are going to happen. Whether it’s shouting, arguing or fighting with siblings, they happen more during this period than before. It can seem like they are being unreasonable and can’t (or won’t) be talked to rationally. In some ways their reactions aren’t out of line. Teenagers experience a rush of hormones and emotions they haven’t dealt with in the past. Some arguments may come to reasonable conclusions, but you may find that you can’t reduce the outbursts to zero.
Similar to the questions we looked at related to rebellion, think about the outcomes. Are the arguments causing lasting resentment or estrangement in the family? Are the outbursts hateful, personal or intentionally harmful to members of your family? If so, there may be underlying problems which your teenager isn’t willing or able to discuss inside the family. It might be time to think about finding an Upper Valley counseling partner to help work through some of the issues your teenager is facing.
As always, individual situations are different for every parent and child. We aren’t attempting to provide solutions via the website for your family, but instead we’re trying to provide questions which can help you explore your situation. Does it seem like garden variety teen behavior, or something a little more serious? Our Upper Valley counselors aren’t here to replace the conversations you need to have inside the family, but we are an option to help your teenager find help using a resource who is unbiased and confidential. If you’d like to discuss how talk therapy for teenagers can work, get in touch.