Help Parenting Adolescents
Do you feel frustrated you just can't communicate with your teen? Feeling at your wit's end? A Psychologist is trained to help.
Parenting an adolescent can be tough.
Adolescence is a time for significant change for adolescents, physically, mentally, and emotionally. At various times one aspect of their development may be more advanced than the other (e.g. the ability to drive versus the ability to guage risk), yet the adolescent may have little awareness of this gap. In Western culture, it is typically a time when the family becomes less important, and peers become the major focus of concern and attention. Psychologically, it's also a time to question parental beliefs and views, as the adolescent establishes their blossoming independence.
Much of this can drive parents crazy, and adolescents similarly up the wall.
So, how can a Psychologist help?
Working with parents and/or their adolescent child, includes:
Reminding parents that much of the problematic behaviour is related to development (e.g. it's appropriate to seek independence; it's appropriate to challenge authority)
Reminding parents that simple rewards and consequences are much more effective than repeating requests for co-operation over and over.
Assisting parents to help their adolescent child mature with tasks and endowments of of increasing responsibility (i.e. you can do grade 12 and help around the house!)
Counselling parents to hear their adolescent children, rather than see them as challenging or defiant
Providing adolescents with an opportunity to reflect on their concerns, to voice concerns to parents without fear of interruption or punishment and to reflect on their own behaviour.
Counselling for parents having difficulty with an adolescent - a Case Study.*
Ella was the youngest of two daughters. She came to therapy with her mother after Ella’s school results faltered and Ella began making excuses not to go to school. The tension between Ella and her mother had resulted in arguments between them often with one or both of them distressed by the conflict.
In session, Ella talked of not enjoying school. She didn’t enjoy her subjects except for art which she thought she was good at. Numerous times Ella’s mother pointed out that Ella was intelligent and needed to have more options up her sleeve rather then just art. Several times she also compared Ella to her older sister who continued to do well and was considering pharmacy or medicine as a career.
Each time her mother compared Ella to her sister, Ella’s posture slumped. She became more angry, eventually collapsing into tears and wanting to leave the session.
In therapy together, Ella and her mother learned more about each other. Initially they had each thought the other was the problem. During sessions, though it was challenging, Ella’s mother learnt that her comparisons with her older sister chipped away at Ella’s confidence as she knew she was never going to be as academic as her older sister.
Ella’s mother was surprised by this as she had only had good intentions and believed that her comparing Ella with her sister would get Ella to ‘lift her game’. In reality the opposite was true. Ella also learnt that in life we can not simply avoid those things that challenge us or we do not like. Though she was determined to pursue art as a career, other subjects would need to be completed. Therapy provided a means for Ella and her mother to work together to support Ella rather than being at war with each other and destroying their relationship.
* Case studies are based on common characteristics of many client examples. They do not refer to any one particular person. Any resemblance to actual persons is completely coincidental.
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