When a child enters adolescence, the parent-child relationship might begin to change. If you were once close with your child, you might see more of a distance between the two of you. If your child was talkative and shared a lot about his or her life, now you might notice that your teen is quiet and keeps to themselves. This may be the case because teens are in a stage in life where they may be searching for their own identity. To do this, they may need to pull away from their parents and move toward friends, an occupation, and self-discovery.
However, you might also notice that teens still crave the approval and attention of their parents. And in that way, they are still children. Adolescence is like a bridge between childhood and adulthood. As teen walk across that bridge, their emotional, psychological, and even physical makeup might change.
It’s important to keep this in mind when you want to talk to your teen about concerns you might have. For instance, you may find that talking to your teen as though he or she is an adult can elicit their maturity, self-respect, and inner strength. The respect and belief that you give your child can help him or her have that belief in themselves. And that alone can help your teen feel confident and make the right decisions. Furthermore, try to resist your tendency to tell your teen what to do. Let him or her find their own answers. If you’ve supported their confidence, inner strength, and resiliency, your adolescent is sure to make the right decision.
The following are some common issues that teens can struggle with:
Underage Drinking – Teens can often feel the pressure from friends to drink and many teens will drink alcohol if under the right circumstances. However, your guidance can help a teen understand what the risks are, including the legal ramifications.
Peer Pressure – Peer pressure is often the most stress producing experience for a teen. Yet, research shows that resilience is a psychological quality that can assist teens in knowing when to make the right choices. Also, as mentioned above, your belief in your teen can help a teen feel confident and make choices based upon what they feel is right versus because of peer pressure.
Bullying – When teens are faced with the problem of being different from their peers in some way, they might fear the consequences, such as bullying. When a teen fears bullying, teasing, or violence, they may, in turn, hide who they really are. For this reason, it’s important that parents continue to build a relationship with teens, even if becomes challenging. It is this relationship that give provide teens with confidence and self-acceptance.
Smoking – Although more and more teens are opting not to smoke, depression is associated with an increased risk for smoking, making depressed teens vulnerable to smoking. Research has found that smoking is often a behavior that depressed teens engage in as a way to self-medicate. Learning this can perhaps encourage teens to find another, healthier way to feel better.
Body Issues – It’s common for teens to discuss what they would like to change about themselves, whether it’s losing weight, changing their hair color or even having plastic surgery to correct what they believe to be a flaw. A parents demonstration of acceptance of their teen for who they are can facilitate self-acceptance in their teen.
Certainly, some of these issues may require more than just your verbal support. You may need to contact a mental health provider for professional support. This might be particularly true for body issues, bullying, or excessive substance use. If you’re concerned about your teen’s well being, contact a therapist or psychologist today.
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Paradigm Malibu is an adolescent mental health and drug treatment center dedicated to identifying, understanding and properly treating the core issues that impact teens and their families.