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5 Things Your Teen Wishes You Knew, From the Perspective of a Therapist

First Things First – It’s Not Personal

When a parent calls me about counseling for their teenager, they are aware that their child is struggling, and feel it would be beneficial for their child to “have someone to talk to”. 

While you may be feeling hurt that your child is choosing to not talk to you, you still wonder what IS being said in session,

What Your Teen Wishes They Could Tell You

  1. I wish you knew that I really am trying hard to be the good person you want me to be.
  2. I’m often not purposely lazy or ignoring you to make you mad, I just value and prioritize things differently than you.
  3. I really, really hate it when you are mad at me. I still need your love and approval even when I disappoint you.
  4. I not only want you to remember what it was like when you were my age, I also want you to imagine how the stressors I have now (such as technology and social media) would have impacted you when you were my age.
  5. I need you to recognize that I’m still learning and growing. Even though my body looks more and more adult-like everyday, my brain and ability to reason and regulate my emotions is just not there yet.

What Should a Parent Do Now?

  1. Read up on adolescent development, you might be surprised what you learn about the developing teen brain, as well as social, emotional, and moral development.
  2. Have your own stuff figured out. If you are an emotional mess, or constantly dysregulated, it does not set a good example for your teen.
  3. Remember you can’t change a person’s behavior by shaming them, but you can guide your teen into making better choices.
  4. Let what happens in therapy stay in therapy. Trust that your teen’s therapist will let you know if really unsafe behavior is happening, and let go of the rest.
  5. Familiarize yourself with the things your teen is interested in, including music, activities, people they follow on social media and gaming.

Conclusion

While I specialize in play therapy and working with young children, I also bond and work really well with teens. Email me if you want a phone consultation.

For further reading on adolescent development, these are some good, reputable sources of information:

https://www.aacap.org/AACAP/Families_and_Youth/Facts_for_Families/FFF-Guide/The-Teen-Brain-Behavior-Problem-Solving-and-Decision-Making-095.aspx

https://raisingchildren.net.au/pre-teens/development/understanding-your-pre-teen/brain-development-teens

Valerie Owings

I am a licensed professional counselor, national certified counselor, and registered play therapist. Those credentials let you know that I am licensed to practice counseling in the state of Missouri, have met the standard to be certified by the National Board of Certified Counselors, and have extensive training and certification to practice play therapy. I am also a member of the American Counseling Association and The Association for Play Therapy.

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