teenagers | Kay Trotter

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All Posts Tagged: teenagers

Parenting Recommended Reading Series

Each day in the month of January 2014, I will post one of my favorite parenting books across a child’s lifespan on my Facebook Fan page.

I have found these books to be very valuable in my understanding of human nature.

I offer them to as a tool to enhance your parenting skills, personal growth, and personal relationships.

If you would like to suggest a parenting book for this series, that has been impactful to you please leave me a comment below with the books title and why you find it valuable.

I hope that you will join me on my Facebook Fan Page.

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How to Guide Teens Through Loss and Grief

Max Schwolert

I recently had the honor of talking to an intimate group of parents who where at a loss as to how to help their children cope with the loss of a friend, 17-year-old Max Schwolert, who died from complications of the flu during a holiday vacation. Those who knew Max, and those who never had the pleasure of meeting a Schwolert, had many questions. Only one being: “How can I help my child through this?”

As a parent or support person, you have the opportunity to gently guide your teenager in living with the loss, as I do not know one ever truly “gets over it.”

A loss of a friendship can be hard on a teenager, just as it can be on adults. It is important to validate your teen’s feelings of loss. In validating those feelings, you make it easier for him or her to share their stories about the friendship, the memories of happy and sad times. Bereaved children and teenagers will need ongoing attention, reassurance and support. It is not unusual for grief to resurface later on, even well after the death. This can happen as they move through different life milestones, and develop as individuals.

As a parent or support person, you have the opportunity to gently guide your teenager in living with the loss, as I do not know one ever truly “gets over it.” Many teenagers feel guilty because their friend died; yet they have a chance at life and graduation, and romance, and experiences, and even new friendships.

One thing that is very important for parents to know is: When your children are grieving and crying, your job is not to fix them. It is natural to want to make their crying stop, but this desire really is more about your pain because it hurts you to see your children cry. But, your job is not to make their pain go away, but to walk hand-in-hand with your child so they can learn to work through this pain. In other words, you have to honor your child’s feelings and allow them to have them so they can learn to process and express a range of emotions, and react in appropriate ways in emotional situations.

Parents also need to realize that, in your intention to fix them, you send the message that you don’t see them, and they therefore do not feel heard by you—this “not being seen and heard by you” can lead to a fight. This is because you have failed to understand your child’s real point and their thoughts or feelings underlying that point. I recommend you quit trying to fix your children and start communicating that you believe in them.

When your child is crying or upset and you don’t know what to do, stop and take a moment to reflect what you are seeing in your child. For example you could say, “You’re really angry. You want this to be over because this is really bothering you.” This will let your child know they are being heard and touched.

It’s also good to ask your children, “What do you need from me now?” Then, if your child just needs you to listen, they can say, “I just need you to listen.” Or if your child wants you to take some action, then they are able to tell you what action to take. This helps them feel like they have some control because death makes all of us feel out of control.

The bottom line is: Don’t fix your children. Instead help them learn how to feel and appropriately express their feelings. As parents, we can teach and guide our children to handle their emotions in ways that validates their feelings, while fostering healthy interactions with the world. In fact, emotional regulation is essential for children’s overall wellbeing.

Remember you’re the most important person to them as their parent and they just want you to walk with them on this journey.

On the flip side, it’s also okay for parents to cry and grieve in front of their children. While you may think you need to hide your pain from them, crying actually allows you to honor yourself and to feel your feelings. It’s okay to feel your pain because we all have to go through the struggle before we can come out on the other side.

The Struggle to Become a Butterfly 

There is a well-known story about a man who tried to help a butterfly out of its cocoon by slitting the cocoon open. The butterfly that emerged had small, unformed wings, and died soon after. What the man didn’t realize is the butterfly needed the struggle out of the cocoon to force the fluid into its wings; to stretch and open them so that the butterfly could fly. By trying to shortcut the process, the man had instead doomed the creature.

I use this story to illustrate that, while it’s hard to watch someone you love struggle, sometimes we need to learn to wait and let the process unfold on its own.

Remember: WITHOUT THE STRUGGLE, THERE ARE NOT WINGS!

If God allowed us to go through life without any obstacles, it would cripple us. We would not be as strong as we could have been. We would never be able to fly.

How To Help Your Teens

  • Be honest and let them know what’s happening
  • Be willing to listen, and available to talk about whatever they need to talk about
  • Acknowledge the emotions they may be feeling—fear, sadness, anger
  • It can be helpful for parents, or other adults, to share their own feelings regarding the loss
  • Frequently reassure them they are safe, who is caring for them, and which adults they can trust to ask for further support
  • Keep routines and normal activities going as much as possible
  • Talk to them about grief – what it is, that it’s normal, that everyone is different
  • Avoid expectations of adult behavior – allow them to be the age and stage they are and encourage them to express their thoughts and feelings – give them ideas of things they could try, such as doing physical activities, writing, singing, listening to music, talking with friends, reading etc.
  • Allow questions and provide honest answers
  • Comfort them with hugs, cuddles, holding their hand, and by encouraging them
  • Speak calmly and gently to them – and be calm around them
  • Talk about death together; answer any questions they may have
  • Let them help in planning the funeral or something to remember the loss

IT IS IMPORTANT TO RECOGNIZE WHEN YOUR TEENAGER IS STRUGGLING WITH THE LOSS MORE THAN WHAT IS NORMAL.

Recognizing the symptoms is one way of helping your teenager deal with the loss such as: 

  • Teenagers can experience symptoms of depression and have angry outbursts.
  • They can also be at the opposite end of the spectrum by showing a lack of emotions and feeling numb.
  • There can be problems in school with failing grades or delinquent behaviors.
  • Further symptoms showing difficulty processing the loss might include personality changes, self-destructive behaviors (drinking, drugs, etc.), withdrawal and isolation, or even suicidal thoughts.

While this is not an all-inclusive list of symptoms, it does give you an idea of how hard the loss of an important relationship can be on a teenager. If you are concerned about any extreme reactions, or if you think the young person may have become depressed, contact your doctor or other trained adviser, such as a counselor, senior staff member from their school, social worker, community or youth worker or a local family support agency.

If you would like Dr. Kay Trotter to come talk to your group you can contact her at: 214-499-0396, Kay@KayTrotter.com or visit her web site www.KayTrotter.com

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Parenting Your Teenager

By Dore Quinn, MEd, LPC – Dore is a licensed professional counselor, who works with those who are striving to overcome depression, anxiety, effects of sexual and physical abuse, grief, marital and parenting issues. Dore uses many different counseling modalities including traditional talk therapy, expressive art therapy, experiential therapy and play therapy (for the young ones).

I have often heard parents with young children lament the time when their child turns into a teen. For some reason, many look on that time with dread (could it be, perhaps, that many are thinking back to when they were a teen?). I have found the teen years to be fun, and quite different from having small children. There are many things we as parents can do to build a relationship with our teen.

To me, it begins with learning to allow our children to be his or her own person within the rules of the home.  I have often thought of how much easier this whole parenting thing would be if each child came with his/her own manual, but we all know they don’t.

I remember before having my first child thinking, “Wow…we are going to have it so easy between my easy-going personality (which I have since learned isn’t so easy-going) and their dad’s easy-going personality (which really is easy-going)!”  Yes, those of you with kids know how UNTRUE and naïve that thought is because what I didn’t realize at that time is that each child comes with his/her own personality.

Our children are not combinations of us, nor where they meant to be.  It took me a few years to recognize that I was trying to turn my oldest into a “mini-Dore” because the way I thought was the right way to think or else I wouldn’t be thinking it, right?   And yes, we clashed quite a bit until I realized what I was doing.  As I was going about trying to make her into a mini-me, I completely overlooked her own person.  The message I was sending without intending is that there was something wrong with her.

So then what was my job?  I determined that my job as a parent was not to turn her into a mini-me, but to love her, protect her, and teach her right from wrong.  It’s also important to not expect our children to be like their siblings.

In order to have a good relationship with your teen, home needs to be a safe haven from the rest of the world.  A saying that I have repeated over and over (and my kids can recite it verbatim) is that not everyone on the planet is going to love them, but their family will ALWAYS love them!

A good way to foster a “Home is a safe haven” environment is to NOT ALLOW sarcasm and nastiness among siblings.  We need to be sure we aren’t engaging in it as well, whether it is with a spouse or with our children.

Another important component of building a relationship with your teen is to learn to laugh.  Don’t be afraid to play and be playful.  We don’t always know the impact that having fun in our homes will have.  During my son’s first year of college out-of-state, he posted the following status on Facebook:  “To either Mom or Dad…whoever sees this first:  I was on Facebook with my iTunes on shuffle and “Love Will Keep us Alive” by The Eagles came on and it made me think about how a while back at the Buckner house on Saturday nights we would open all of the windows and the front door and play music on Dad’s stereo and dance around the living room…I’m tired of growing up.”  I had no idea that fun times such as that would be important to my son.

Lighten up!  Discipline on a “lighter note.”  For example, when your teen asks to come home one hour after his 12 o’clock curfew, instead of going into a long lecture on obedience, say something such as, “So what I hear you saying is, “Mom, I REALLY want to come home at 11:00?”  This is a much less intense confrontation.  Another example would be my son and I were joking around on the way to school, and he said something that was over the line.  We were pulling up to the school and I said, “Sorry Mom….” And he completely ignored me.  After he took two steps towards the front door of the school, I rolled down the window and said, “That’s okay…as soon as you get to the door I’m going to shout out to you if you remembered to take your anti-diarrhea medicine this morning.”  I got a prompt apology without offense being taken.

Another way to build a relationship with your teen is to learn to criticize less.  There is a distinct difference between consequences and criticism.

A CONSEQUENCE WOULD LOOK LIKE THIS

“Gee, since you chose to come home after curfew, you chose to not go out tomorrow.”

A CRITICISM LOOKS LIKE THIS

“Did you EVEN stop to think I would worry about you?  You are so irresponsible and don’t care about anyone but yourself!”

Criticism doesn’t address the actual problem; it merely makes a global statement about the other person’s character.  The problem with criticisms is that it elicits defensiveness, and seldom results in behavior change.  Especially be careful to not nit-pick the small things.

An example of nit-picking the small things would be giving your teen a hard time because he/she got a “B” on a test instead of an “A”.  Nit-picking results in a teen believing they can never do anything right in the eyes of the parent, so why bother?  Eventually they give up and then there are bigger problems.

Building a relationship with your teen can result in many years of joy and can offset the tough times that are bound to come along with your kids growing up

Keys to Remember

  • Allowing your children to be themselves
  • Not allowing meanness at home, learning to laugh
  • Disciplining with a lighter touch
  • Criticizing less

These are just a few ways to achieve a meaningful and fun relationship with your teen.

If it seems like a daunting task, pick one area and work to make one small change.

Even one small change will impact your relationship and your family in a positive way!

You can contact Dore at: 214-499-0396, Dore@KayTrotter.com or visit our web site www.KayTrotter.com.

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