So you've noticed your teen beginning to withdraw from things they normally enjoy. You've also noticed they've become angrier and are having more outbursts at home.
It's obvious they are going through something, so what are the next steps?
How can parents encourage their reluctant teens to open up?
One of the best ways to show emotional support and love as a parent is to open up a conversation with your teen.
Approach your teen calmly and ask if they would like to have a safe, supportive discussion where you will practice 'listening' while they share their thoughts, feelings, and opinions.
A helpful way of starting the conversation is something along the lines of, "I have noticed some differences in you lately. I wanted to check in to see how you were feeling?"
With whatever your teen decides to talk about, practice your active listening skills as a parent.
They might begin by talking about the less than desirable school lunches, but that can quickly segway into them experiencing bullying at school for example.
When we actively listen, we listen to hear, not respond.
Let's take the time to hear the emotions behind the words that our teens are trying to communicate to us.
If you are able to get your teen to talk about what they are going through, show them empathy and compassion using validating language.
"It must be so hard to feel so tired and hopeless all the time. I can definitely understand why it's so difficult for you to keep your room clean, and get your homework done."
We want to make sure we are reflecting similar verbiage to what our teen is telling us to let them know we are listening and understand how they feel.
The empathy aspect can come in by offering support. "How can I help you through this?"
In offering support, you ask your teen their thoughts and feelings on therapy.
It's possible they might be positively receptive to it, and even ask for it.
It's also possible they might immediately go on the defense and inform you they don't need it, they refuse to do it. etc.
So how do you encourage them about therapy?
Talking to your teen about how therapy is what you make of it and how great it can be to be able to talk to someone about things they aren't comfortable necessarily talking to friends or family about, especially parents.
In talking about those things, they might start to feel better and learn about ways they can take better care of themselves, advocate, and ultimately communicate their needs and emotions.
So, offer to your teen to try it out, find a therapist they feel is the right fit, and support them on their therapeutic journey.
If you succeed in helping your teen understand the benefits of therapy, it's important to find a good therapist.
A therapist who understands working with teens will know how important trust and openness in the relationship are.
They will begin with building rapport by exploring the teen's interests and engaging in activities the teen enjoys.
Only then once rapport is earned will they begin to 'poke' at some of the teen's traumas, like bullying, divorce etc.
Additionally, following the teen's lead if they start to divulge themselves and allowing the teen to guide the course of their therapy.
In talking to your teen about what they might be going through and if therapy is a good option for them, be present.
When we are present as parents, we are emotionally, physically, and social there for our kids.
We actively listen.
We demonstrate empathy and compassion.
We show our teens we support them.
We show them that we love them through all of these.
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Overcomers' is a mental health care practice serving Colorado with multiple locations in Colorado Springs and Denver! We have a passion for people and being a part of their experience as they overcome challenges. What will you overcome? Book a therapy session with one of our counselors here.
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