Do You Feel Like You’ve Lost Your Teenager?
- Is your teen shutting you out, spending hours alone either texting or absorbed on the Internet or video games?
- Does your teen come home with poor grades or receive negative feedback from teachers regarding defiant behavior or lack of engagement with peers?
- Does your teen struggle to make friends and seem socially isolated, or experience bullying at school or on social media?
- Are you concerned about excessive exercise or dieting and worry that your teen may have an eating disorder?
- Do you wonder whether anxiety about good grades or social standing has caused your teen to seek comfort in things like drugs, alcohol or sex?
- Is even the smallest conversation with your teen a struggle?
- Do you have a Gifted Learner who has challenges in their school or social environment and seems overwhelmed?
If your teenager has shut out the world—and you along with it—you probably feel very concerned. High school can be a difficult time for teens. These years often create anxiety about getting good grades, fitting in, and navigating social groups. Your teen might agonize over social cliques at school, feel like he or she isn’t attractive or skinny enough or fret over having few or no friends. You may even have difficulty getting your teen out of bed in the morning, finding that he or she doesn’t want to go to school because the social anxiety is overwhelming. As a parent, you may feel powerless to help your teen. You might sit awake at night worrying about your teen’s excessive dieting or exercise, wonder whether he or she is experimenting with drugs or alcohol, or have concerns about your teen’s friendships and/or romantic relationships. Once home from school, your teen might avoid discussing the day, perhaps going to his or her room and locking the door—effectively shutting you out. Perhaps you feel like you’ve somehow failed as a parent and that you’ve lost your child. You may desperately wish you could reach out to your teen, but feel you lack the tools to do so.
Teenagers Often Experience Complex Feelings During Middle School and High School
If your teen seems alienated, has difficulty making new friends or gives you the silent treatment, you are not alone. Many parents feel estranged from their children during adolescence – a time when many teens’ main desire is to find their own path. For a lot of teens, high school functions like a mini-society in which social acceptance means everything. High school is a particularly trying time for girls, who can obsess over their appearance, feeling as though they don’t have the right clothes, or aren’t skinny enough. It’s common for teens to experience anxiety and/or depression if they have trouble establishing meaningful relationships with peers. For teens who don’t “fit in,” simply going to class can elicit anxiety, which may explain why your teen dreads going to school in the morning, appearing only to go out of a sense of obligation. To cope with the pressures of social and academic life, some teens look for fulfillment in romantic relationships or social media notoriety. Others may begin to experiment with drugs and alcohol. They may refuse to answer questions about their day, leaving mom and dad frustrated by their lack of communication and one-word responses.
Teen Counseling Can Be a Catalyst in Helping Your Child Begin to Prosper in All Areas of Life
High school doesn’t have to wreak havoc on your teen’s self-esteem. At Lakeshore Psychology Services, we have the passion and experience to help your teen feel more secure, improve academic achievement and find fulfillment in relationships. We are dedicated to assisting teens through a strength-based approach to thrive and learn important coping skills in adolescence to assist them as they prepare for young adulthood. In teen counseling sessions, your teen can begin to draw strength from the things he or she does best. Building on strengths and engaging in enjoyed activities—like athletics, art, music, or other extracurricular pursuits—helps build confidence, which can ultimately help your teen find happiness in other areas of life. If your teen struggles academically, we can help your teen with motivation, organization, and removing potential challenges with attention. For example, we have state of the art approaches in assisting with the diagnosis and treatment of ADHD.
If you’re feeling hurt by your teen’s refusal to speak to you about what’s going on at school, know that there are some topics—such as a breakup with a partner or feelings about the body—that are too embarrassing for some teens to discuss with parents. A parent is a child’s greatest advocate, but often all that’s needed is an unbiased, trusted adult to enable your teen to open up about the issues that are causing him or her pain. With the help of therapy, teens can talk through their problems, identify issues that are creating anxiety and learn to manage complicated emotions.
Although you may be feeling helpless as a parent, know that things can get better. Through the help of teen counseling, your teenager can become more self-confident and self-aware and learn to appreciate his or her authentic self-worth rather than relying on things like appearance, popularity or romantic relationships for affirmation.
You may be ready to take the next step toward teen counseling, but still may have some questions or concerns…
I’m worried, will teen counseling cause others to look at my teen differently?
People may look at your teen differently, but only because he or she is making positive changes. Counseling is seen as very common in our current culture as a great help to teens during their transition to adulthood. If your child succeeds in teen counseling, then you should be proud that he or she is taking steps toward healing. It’s best to take care of your teen’s problems now rather than let your teen carry the same anxieties and anti-social behavior in adulthood, when the consequences can be much more dire. The axiom that “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure” is as true today with our teens as it's ever been.
My teenager is just going through the typical growing pains of adolescence. Won’t these issues resolve on their own?
While it’s true that nearly every teenager experiences some social anxiety and estrangement, are you really willing to risk the possibility your teen’s problems may be more serious than just growing pains? The experiences we have as teenagers leave lasting impressions on our self-confidence as adults. In fact, many adults find themselves still dealing with issues like friendship, love and social status that started out in high school. Don’t let your teen’s unresolved issues travel with him or her to college and beyond. It’s best to tackle your teen’s emotional issues now so that they can be healthy in the future.
I’m worried, will this just prove that I’ve failed as a parent if I bring my teen for counseling?
Stop being so hard on yourself! You wouldn’t be researching help if you were failing as a parent. By reading this website, you’re already on the road to becoming the best parent you can be. In our teen counseling sessions, we’ll focus on your teen while simultaneously offering you parenting tools. We offer collaborative family counseling so that you can receive needed parental coaching from one of our clinicians while your teen works with another of our skilled staff. We also offer family meetings as part of this approach to assist with monitoring progress and talking through challenging family conflicts.
If my teen forms a great bond with a counselor during high school, will they have to start all over with someone else when they go away for college?
Unlike most other counseling clinics who limit services to their home state, in addition to our counseling services in Wisconsin, we also offer virtual Life Coaching services to students all over the country. Thus, when we establish a strong counseling relationship with your teen while in High School, they can have continuity with us when they go to college. We help your teen, if desired, to transition the relationship from counseling to Life Coaching so that they can maintain gains and face the challenges of college effectively. By offering virtual Life Coaching while they are away, your teen doesn’t have a lapse in support or start over with an entirely new person when entering college. Many families have found this continuity crucial in fostering long term success for their teens as they transition into college and adulthood in other states.
Don’t Let High School Drama Turn into Adult Trauma
You can help your teen achieve academic and social prosperity. All you need is the right tools to do so. Feel free to call us at (414) 235-0431 for a free phone consultation or complete the contact form below. We would be happy to answer any questions you may have about our services.