Many parents come to therapy seeking help for their teen-age children. Some are tearful, some angry, some incredibly worried and there are those that express all of the above. The teen-aged years (adolecence) is a period of transition; a time where youth are working to create a separate identity from their parent and family. A teens job is to explore, to take chances, and to figure out what and who they will become. It’s easy to write this in short and simple sentences, but what isn’t easy is the actual experience itself. I mean that for the teen, the parent and anyone attempting to help them work together better! Both as a mental health professional and as a mother I have experienced first hand how challenging it can really be to help someone navigate though this period. I get parents who come into my office and complain that their child isn’t listening the same way they used to, or is trying new things. These are often things the parent would never have done at their age. There are a few common concerns I have run into when working with parents and their adolescent children. I list them below along with some things to keep in mind while you’re trying to figure out a solution to their behavior.
1) My teen has started breaking curfew and coming home later.
They push limits to see how far you will let them stray, this is part of becoming independent and making up their own mind. Know your limits and be very clear about them in this area, but try to be flexible when you can.
2) My teen does not want to spend time with me and the family doing the activities we used to enjoy together.
They want to develop an identity of outside you and the family they are used to.
3) My teen wants to spend less time at home, and more time with his friends. It seems like his friends matter more than anyone else.
Developing a social identity is incredibly important to an adolescent. For your teen, this is a big part of becoming someone separate from you.
4) My teen reacts emotionally and often overreacts to things that seem trivial to me.
Your teen-aged child’s brain and body is full of hormones and consistently changing. He doesn’t feel the same mellow feelings that you do because of this. Things are often magnified because of these physical changes.
5) This is so frustrating and she is already 17 years old. When will it stop?
Generally speaking, somewhere between 18 and 25 years of age, your child’s hormones and adult brain development will be where it needs to be for them to behave more like you may want them to. No two people are exactly alike, so there is an age range here.
Amira R. Crawford is a licensed therapist and can be reached at amiracrawfordtherapist.com