The teen years are full of ups and downs. Emotions run high, and children going through puberty may not make the wisest decisions as their impulsive behavior overrides everything else. As a result, the teen years can be problematic, especially if your child has experienced trauma, neglect, or a mental illness.
Teen counseling provides your child with a safe place to speak to an unbiased adult. In addition, the counselor works with the child and the parents to get through issues that may arise in the family and at school.
What is teen counseling?
Just like adults sometimes need a third party to help them through challenging times, teens also need this guidance. Do you remember middle school and high school? Did you deal with bullying, overwhelming teacher and parent expectations, or teen drama? How did you handle those issues? Would it have been easier if you could have confided in an adult, like a counselor, for advice and help?
Your child may be dealing with the same or new issues, like cyberbullying. Teen counseling helps unlock the door so you can help your child. Many teens feel embarrassed to tell their parents about problems at school or with friends.
They may be worried that they will disappoint or anger you. Some children believe their parents will stop loving them if they mess up. Teen counseling provides an opportunity to lay the problems out and help the family to overcome, accept, or adapt to an issue.
Your child’s counseling involves psychological methods, behavioral and mindset techniques, and Christian-based principles. Your child learns to think before acting, reframe negative thoughts, grow in self-esteem and confidence, and effectively communicate their needs and emotions.
Teen counseling comes in many forms. The counselor may meet with your child in person or through a virtual session. As a parent, you may be asked to attend a few sessions to understand what problems your child is struggling with daily.
Teen counseling can also happen in small groups with the counselor as the host. These group counseling sessions provide a place where your child can feel seen, heard, and accepted as the other children share their concerns, worries, fears, and achievements in overcoming problems. The counselor provides strategies and suggestions for the teens to try, and the children report how the strategy worked for them at the next session.
Reasons to seek teen counseling
Besides the most common reasons to seek teen counseling, like bullying, cyberbullying, peer pressure, and teen pregnancy, teens face more pressures than ever before. However, you can help them by recognizing red-flag behaviors.
The following is a list of behaviors you may want a counselor’s help overcoming or managing.
A drop in grades. A drop in grades could be from a challenging subject, your teen’s inability to advocate for themselves, overwhelming teacher expectations, or bullying in the class. Depression and anxiety can also cause disinterest in classes or unorganized study habits and environment.
Mood swings. When your child seems mild-mannered one moment, then overly emotional, sad, or has angry outbursts, it may be more than teen angst. Your teen may be experiencing uncontrollable mood swings.
Physical violence. When emotions run high, teens can resort to physical violence to settle arguments, especially between siblings and classmates. But no one has the right to harm another person physically, and the child needs to learn how to control impulsive behaviors and find a healthy outlet for anger.
Inability to focus. Teens lose the ability to concentrate when overwhelmed or dealing with a mental condition like Attention-Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD). Although they may try to focus on schoolwork or the teacher, their minds drift elsewhere. If they are dealing with other issues like teen drama or abuse, their thoughts will return to these issues.
Sleep Issues. Does your child sleep too much when they are home, or do you find them up at all hours of the night? Sleeping too much could be a sign of depression, while insomnia might be a symptom of an anxiety disorder.
Rapid weight changes. Rapid weight gain or loss could be a symptom of depression or an eating disorder. Teens are highly vulnerable to body image issues which can lead to them trying to control their weight with harmful actions such as starving or purging. Depression can also lead to binge-eating behaviors.
Depressed or anxious. Persistent sadness and a tearful demeanor could indicate depression. On the other hand, worrying and nervousness mark anxiety. A teen can suffer from both depression and anxiety simultaneously.
Withdrawing from the world. Isolation is a worrisome symptom. It could be caused by depression or social anxiety. The teen might withdraw to their bedroom or somewhere private because they feel safe in this space.
No interest in hobbies or games. Teens typically throw themselves into their hobbies and interests, so sudden disinterest is concerning. The child may develop depression due to circumstances, environment, genetics, or brain chemistry. Only a licensed mental health professional can diagnose a child’s mental condition.
Substance abuse. Substance abuse will increase the likelihood of the above behaviors as well as physical changes. For example, the child may take on a gaunt appearance, fidget, experience skin breakouts, thinning and dull hair, slower reaction times, and complain about headaches or stomach issues. Substance abuse issues require professional addiction treatment.
Trouble with the law. Peer pressure and impulsive behaviors can get a teen into trouble at school and with the law. Physically assaulting others, shoplifting, breaking and entering, and destroying private or commercial property are all reasons for alarm. A counselor can help your child identify why they are engaging in risky behaviors.
Struggling with loss. Death, divorce, loss of a friendship, or loss of the family’s income can lead to grieving. Teens, just like adults, need time to grieve and can get lost in the process, repeating the stages in a vicious cycle. Has your child lost someone they loved? Did you move away from their friends? They may need grief counseling.
Talking of death or self-harm. Intrusive thoughts and depression can lead to suicidal ideations. If your child seems to be obsessed with death, talking about death, or harming himself or others, seek help immediately. Even if you feel you may be overreacting, it is better to be wrong than to wait too long for professional help.
Raising a teen in today’s topsy-turvy world
Being a parent to a teen is an honor. God chose you to raise this precious person who is between being a child and becoming a man or woman. These years are precious, and you want to lead them to the Lord. Their faith can get them through some of the toughest times in their lives, but it needs to be nurtured. They need to see how God’s word relates to their everyday lives.
When your teen has a firm foundation of faith, it will keep them from falling too far down the rabbit hole of temptations and trials. As the Bible says, “Start children off on the way they should go, and even when they are old, they will not turn from it.” (Proverbs 22:6)
Seek Christian teachers who can help point to God in serious circumstances. Raise your teens in a Bible-based church and teach them to serve others. Serving people in the church and the community teaches teens empathy, humility, and kindness.
Don’t be afraid to find a new church if yours does not meet your children’s needs. As long as the church teaches directly from the word and explains its relevancy, it will take root in your teen’s heart and mind.
Does your child need a counselor?
Teen counseling is not meant to be a permanent activity. However, your child will learn practical methods they will carry throughout life to handle issues in adulthood. You are setting them up to be able to manage their thoughts, emotions, and behaviors for a lifetime. Contact our office today to schedule an appointment with a Christian teen counselor to get started.
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The information, including but not limited to, text, graphics, images and other material contained on this article are for informational purposes only. No material on this site is intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Please contact one of our counselors for further information.