We know what a crazy time this can be…
Always wanting more privileges and wishing to be older. The desire for independence and autonomy are powerful urges. Figuring out whether behaviors are normal or abnormal becomes an impossible challenge. Limits are tested, boundaries are pressed, and new versions of “acceptable” are negotiated without realizing it.
Little by little, the structure, routine, and expectations drift away, causing worry and unsettling fears.
“He used to be so involved with the family. Now he comes home and goes straight to his room. He sleeps until noon and is constantly on the phone.” The one-word answers and dismissive reactions cause sleepless nights filled with worry.
It appears that things are not right.
What’s being hidden? How can a person spend so many hours on the phone and locked away in their room?
It’s when a child has a hidden part of their life. Are they being influenced by healthy peers? Are they consumed with ideas learned online? Drugs?
Grades are slipping with my child’s mood. Enthusiasm around family time is a thing of the past. Priority number one has become friends, some known to us, but others seem to appear out of nowhere.
Surprise piercings, tattoos, and “street lingo” seep into the home.
What is going on?
Did someone sleepover last night? Were they even in the house last night?
Childhood dreams of success and fulfilling life are no longer priorities. Instant gratification and friends take center stage.
The kids choose universities and colleges not for academics but in hopes of majoring in “partying,” exploration of sex and substances without parents getting in the way.
And that craziness can show up in all sorts of ways.
One day feeling great and the next experiencing depression. Friends are getting into fights after spending way too much time together.
Now a relationship with this new girl. It’s the only thing on his mind. Friends are left behind, and the only thing that matters is this “new love affair.”
His mood is too good to be true. “He’s on a pink cloud.”
Then you hear yelling on the phone. “I got cheated on.” Crying spells, incessant messaging to friends, and erratic behaviors begin.
Going out and getting drunk – stumbling home with unfamiliar companions. The scent of marijuana starts showing up.
“Who are they meeting?” Staying up all night. Hours upon hours of Internet usage. “I guess there’s no need for sleep anymore.”
Valuable items begin to go missing.
Appetite falls with weight. “This looks bad… We need help.”
Maybe it’s just a phase. Will it pass?
Strange packages show up in the mail. Leaving the house many times per day and night. “What in the world is going on?”
Verbal abuse and name-calling – “I just wanted to know if he was okay. He lost his mind last night. I’m shocked by this behavior.”
All of this takes a heavy toll… on you and your child.
Feeling lost and worried can be unbearable anxiety.
Walking on eggshells to prevent an outburst is no way to go through life. Taking things personally can create shame and a feeling of failure. The child suffers, too.
Attempting to save them and put them back together keeps failing.
“I’ve started acting like a friend instead of a parent.”
Letting go is tough when a child is clearly suffering.
“It feels counterintuitive. It feels wrong.”
Let’s face it: Adolescents aren’t always receptive to therapy…
Feeling misunderstood and unheard leads young people to disconnect and “write off” the whole experience of therapy. They can be suspicious of the process and think the therapist is siding with the parents.
Young people worry about confidentiality – “What if mom or dad find out?” Leading to feeling as though they can’t share anything.
It’s difficult for them to identify a problem – “I don’t have a problem with the way things are going. My family just won’t leave me alone – they are the problem.”
My approach is creative and savvy, giving me a unique edge with this population. Thought experiments and empathy go a long way. Thinking outside the box allows for unexpected solutions.
Take Billy*, for example. Billy struggled with opposition and a relentless urge to get his way. This caused countless abusive interactions with parents and was destroying life at home. Rather than trying to educate him on why it’s wrong to be abusive to parents, I saw it more powerful to “roll with resistance.”
In doing so, we established that he was extremely frustrated with himself, feeling insignificant, disrespected, and angry for constantly being belittled by his parents – “They punish me and treat me like a kid.” He admitted that his ability to manipulate them proved to be a complete failure.
There was the “in.”
Me – “Billy, it seems like you’re trying to get something from your parents, but it isn’t working. It’s actually failing miserably.”
Billy – “Maybe it’s because they are just horrible parents and enjoy the satisfaction of punishing me for nothing.”
Me – “Maybe that’s true. But it’s also true that you’re failing miserably at getting what you want.”
Billy – “I guess. So, what are you saying I should do?”
Me – “Well, I’m thinking that since you suck at manipulating your parents, it seems you need some training around how to get what you want.”
Billy – “HAHA – you’re saying you’re going to help me manipulate my parents.”
Me – “You seem excited about that.”
Billy – “Hell yeah – at least you would be using your education for the good of humanity.”
Me – “Alright, so the thing I want to work on with you is ‘playing the long game.’ This whole next week, you will stop asking for anything and only ask them about how they are.”
Billy – “What, you’re tricking me!”
Me – “No, trust me on this. You are going to witness a miracle. They won’t know what hit them. They will be shocked.”
Spoiler alert, this ended very well!
Early intervention is SO important!
We know the brain continues to develop into our late 20s. So, it’s easy to see just how vulnerable adolescent minds are.
That’s why it’s best to address these issues as soon as possible. We don’t want what your child is going through now to result in long-term mental health issues in the future.
Therapy can profoundly impact your child during this phase of life.
If you or your child is struggling, I’m here for you.
Years of working with young people have blessed me with the unique ability to reach and understand them. Getting to see them succeed fuels my work.
My style tends to be more casual. Forming a partnership with the client is most important. They will feel validated and understood, emphasizing working together to accomplish agreed-upon goals.
I will work diligently with the client and family to identify and solve issues. Some interventions can include coaching on better communication and putting it into action by getting on the phone with the client and whoever they struggle with, guiding a discussion, and developing social skills.
If career confusion is an issue, we can explore different ideas, accompanying them to local schools to obtain information, allowing me to witness their non-verbals first-hand to understand them better. To the very best of my ability, I will walk with the client in developing the skills necessary to succeed in life.
Sometimes, the phone can feel too heavy to pick up.
Ready to improve life?
Please don’t feel nervous to reach out. Consultations are always free and an important step to finding out whether we are a good fit. They last anywhere from 15-30 minutes.
I am happy to answer any of your questions and give more context to my work. Call now: (561) 717-3227.
*Name changed to preserve client confidentiality.