Teen Counseling: Out-of-the-Box Questions to Ask Your Teenager
The family should be a closely knit group. The home should be a self-contained shelter of security; a kind of school where life’s basic lessons are taught; and a kind of church where God is honored; a place where wholesome recreation and simple pleasures are enjoyed. – Billy Graham
Parenting children in any phase of life is not for the faint of heart, and it is not a task that should be taken lightly. As children grow older and become more independent, it might feel like you should allow them to face obstacles on their own and learn to deal with the outcome or consequences.However, when children become teenagers, they need their parents to help them learn to cope with and process the obstacles and feelings that life begins to throw at them. This is a crucial time in their development as this stage of problem-solving and coping is leading them into adulthood and sets the foundation for their future success and failure.
Teenagers today are faced with a wide range of challenges that can be easy for adults to downplay or overlook. It is important to remember that for a teenager, whatever they are feeling and facing is important to them. The start of dating and first loves, their first job, their success at school, and their circle of friends are all important elements to their definition of success and popularity.
In this phase of child-rearing, their feelings still need to be validated. Instead of saying “You are so silly for saying you are in love with someone,” you should consider validating their feelings by saying, “I’m glad that you care so much about them.”
You do not necessarily have to agree with what they are feeling, but you also want to ensure that you do not negatively push their feelings aside and invalidate them. This will cause distance in your relationship and could halt the open communication that you are working so diligently to achieve.
Issues addressed in teen counseling
Depression, anxiety, low self-esteem, self-harm, eating disorders, trauma, bullying, OCD, peer pressure, and self-medicating are just a few of the many conditions that teenagers today are facing — issues that are commonly discussed in teen counseling.
Anxiety is all-too common in teenagers today as they deal with the pressures of competing for their class rank, establishing themselves as they prepare for adulthood, and facing the many pressures of trying to fit in and impress their peers. While being a teenager is the age where an adolescent feels they are transforming from caterpillar to butterfly, there is still much to learn and much growth and that must happen.
Depression is on the rise in teens today as they face the pressures of social media, cliques, and inner circles. Teenagers today are quick to remove a picture if it does not receive ample “likes” within the first few minutes of it being posted.
Social media has greatly attributed to a teenager’s desire to feel seen and validated in a world that is constantly moving, changing, and evolving. It can feel like a constant battle that can never be won in their eyes.
Raising children who stand up for the right things and stand out as the unique individuals God created them to be is not easy, but it is a task that should not be taken lightly or for granted. It is vital to raise your children knowing that their age does not signify the impact they can have. Raise them with greatness in mind. Raise them to be world-changers in every phase of life.
Do a regular heart-check up with your teen. Think outside-the-box and ask a variety of questions other than “how was school?” The most important aspect of communicating with your teenager is opening the lines of communication. Set the stage – embrace them with love, give them your full attention, and allow ample time to dive into their heart and mind. Let them know their words and opinions are valued.
Consider asking your teen a few of these out-of-the-box questions:
- Describe yourself in three words. Explain.
- If you were the President and could only choose three people to work for you – who would you choose and why?
- If you had one million dollars – how would you spend it?
- If you could have any job in the world – what would it be?
- If you could have just one superpower – what would it be?
- Describe the perfect day from the moment you open your eyes.
- What are you most afraid of?
- What is one thing you love about yourself?
- What is something you have done in the last 24 hours to make someone’s day better? What is something that someone else has done for you in the last 24 hours that made your day better?
- What is one thing that has had a huge impact on your life? Why?
- What is one achievement of which you are most proud? Why?
- Is there an opportunity you have passed up that you now regret? Why?
- Name one of your greatest strengths and one of your greatest weaknesses.
- Think of one bad thing that has happened to you. What did you learn from it?
- What do you feel is the hardest job in the world? Why?
- When someone is feeling stressed, what are three things you would encourage them to do to help their stress?
- When someone is feeling sad or overwhelmed, what is something you would encourage them to do/why?
- What are three things for which you are thankful? Why?
- Do you have a bad habit that you wish you could break? Explain.
- What are three of your biggest dreams in life?
There are so many different ways to make communication fun, but the first step is to try to talk to your teenager and let them know that you are anxious to support their dreams and desire to help them work through the obstacles that they might be facing.
Is your teen silently suffering?
If your teenager is withdrawing from conversations or friends, if your teenager has lost their smile, if your teenager is suddenly facing social withdrawal or losing interest in the things they once enjoyed, then your teenager might be silently suffering.
If your teenager’s behavior has suddenly changed or they are withdrawing, help your teen do an emotional check-up. Encourage them to journal the things that are bothering them. Encourage them to feel the emotions instead of bottle them up. Let them ask questions. Engage with them! Ask them the difficult questions.
Encourage your teenager to find healthy coping mechanisms like breathing/relaxation exercises, channeling that nervous energy into a hobby, go running or workout together, have a dance-it-out party in the living room – find things that speak to their soul and fit their personality.
Encourage your teenager to receive an adequate night’s rest, limit screen time, and to spend time building face-to-face friendships. Encourage them to always try their best but ensure that you do not paint unrealistic pictures of perfection in every area of their life – this can leave them feeling defeated and depleted before the day even begins.
It is important to validate your teen’s feelings while also pointing them toward hope. If they are feeling sad, validate those feelings. Hold them while they cry. If they are feeling happy, be happy for them and with them. It is important to validate your teen’s feelings while also encouraging them to continue moving forward.
If they received a “C” and want an “A,” offer to help them study for their next test. Just cheering them on is one of the biggest things we can do for them. If they want to run a faster mile for the next cross-country meet, cheer for them and train a little extra with them, if you can.
The biggest part of parenting teens is being present for them, cheering for them, praying for them, and validating their feelings to keep those pathways of communication open on the good and the bad days. Have the tough conversations, be their biggest cheerleader, and always point them to Jesus!
Do not conform to the pattern of this world but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is – his good, pleasing, and perfect will. – Romans 12:2
How can teen counseling help?
- Counselors can help a teenager deal with big feelings, insecurities, or the need to belong.
- Counselors can aid teenagers in dealing with any trauma, anxiety, depression, low self-esteem, or silent suffering.
- Teen counseling can help your teenager learn to talk through their feelings without feeling defeated.
- Counseling can help your teen practice new skills, see a different perspective, and offer tools to cope with whatever they are facing.
- Teen counseling will equip and encourage your teenagers to ask for help and open the lines of communication.
- Counseling means support for your entire family.
“Contemplating the Waterfall”, Courtesy of Christian Garcia, Unsplash.com, CC0 License; “Rebel”, Courtesy of Jayson Hinrichsen, Unsplash.com, CC0 License; “Alone on the Beach”, Courtesy of Gabriel Rodrigues, Unsplash.com, CC0 License; “Green Plant in a White Pot”, Courtesy of Sarah Bronske, Unsplash.com, CC0 License