If you have a teenager, then you know they can go through emotional ups and downs. Their hormones are fluctuating, as well as their friendships.
A misconception about teenage life is that it is easy. Some think that because they do not have to pay major bills, teens have no reason to feel negative emotions.
The opposite is true, however. Teens have many things taking place in their lives that create stress and negativity.
Statistics on teens show that 700,000 children a year are physically, verbally, mentally or sexually abused in some way. Sometimes even by a family member. Imagine trying to be happy while still living in a home where you experience abuse repeatedly.
Teen hormones can cause mood swings. Hormones affect how a person feels, thinks and acts. This is often what we call the “typical teen” problem.
There are times when what we think is typical, is something greater. Mental health disorders among teens are growing each year. Mental health awareness is also growing and more teens are receiving a diagnosis earlier in life.
That is the good news. The sad news is that not all teens are receiving the best care available for even common problems.
That can change, however. You, as their parent, can ensure your teen gets the most out of counseling. Below are a few ways.
Get the Best Therapist
We often shop around for the best car, the best home and even the best clothing. We ask for referrals from friends and look at online reviews. Why don’t we do the same for something as important as or teen’s therapist?
Giving your teen the best chance of success is to allow them to be treated by the best counselors and doctors. Ask for referrals. Check their reviews. Check their resumes. Spend a little time researching. A good counselor will appreciate you asking them for referrals and reviews.
Involve the Whole Family
Let’s face it. Everyone has issues and counseling can benefit the entire family. Stress affects us daily. Learning how to cope properly with life stressors is crucial to having a healthy life both mentally and physically.
Participating in family therapy will prevent your teen from feeling alone in their journey. As a role model, you will be showing them that everyone can benefit from counseling.
Family counseling teaches you how to function as a group. It teaches your family how to help each other, how to recognize signs and symptoms of dysfunction within the group, and how to implement coping plans together.
Your teen may or may not want to discuss what takes place in their counseling sessions with you. Be okay with this. You have chosen one of the best therapists; you can be assured that if there is a major problem with your child, a therapist will take the right actions.
They will contact you if your child is in danger. They will also contact the proper authorities if necessary. You will be consulted on your teen’s treatment at some point because they are a minor.
Respecting your child’s boundaries and not forcing them to talk to you will give your child the freedom he or she needs to process what they are learning. One thing you must do, however, is remind them you are there for them and open for communication when they are ready.
Putting pressure on the therapist to tell you about your teen’s counseling session is a bad idea. Allow your teen to have their privacy with the therapist.
This can be hard because you want to know why your teen is hurting and how you can help resolve the issue. But sometimes it is best to let your teen figure out the solution.
Your teen may have experienced things you are not aware of yet. Keeping an open mind will help you handle any surprises that come about while your teen is in counseling.
Avoid being stuck in denial. Admitting that your teen, and possibly you, need counseling will start you on a path of recovery. Be honest with your teen and the therapist. It is okay to admit mistakes. Everyone on this planet makes mistakes.
Teach your teen this fact and help them realize it is normal to make mistakes. The important thing is how they handle those mistakes.
If you deny there is a problem or keep secrets about a problem, you cannot reach your goal of being mentally healthy. Your teen will adapt your thoughts and actions. Being open and honest will help lead you both to success.
Build Positive Relationships
You do not want to be your teen’s best friend. But you do want to be a great parent to your teen. Children need an authority figure that they can trust and depend on. Teens thrive in structured environments that teach responsibility and discipline.
To build this type of positive relationship with your teen, you must be there when they need you. Even if you are running late for an important meeting, find a few minutes to hear them and make them feel important.
Other ways to build a relationship with your teen is to do things together. If you only see your teen at the dinner table each night, you will know very little about them and they will not know much about you either.
Participate in activities you both enjoy. Make fun memories together that will last a life time.
Once you establish a trusting relationship with your teen, you will notice a change for the better in their mental health. It can be so much easier for someone to cope with a mental illness when they know they have the support of family.
To learn more about helping your teen get the most out of counseling, join a parent education group or support group. Meeting on a regular basis with other parents who have teens in therapy can be empowering.
It will reassure you that you are not alone and that just like you support your teen, there are people out there to support you. You both deserve a long and happy life. Start your journey of healing today.