Ask any parent about the teenage years and you will hear a groan and a sigh. They are difficult years that seemingly overnight turn your cuddly, bright children into moody, contrary people that have an answer for everything. However, at the same time, those kids that you no longer quite recognize are going through amazing transformations. They are seeing the world in new ways, discovering who they are and what they want to become! And they do it all through the first lens they know - the family unit! Communication is key during this transition period into adulthood. Do you need a translator in your house? I am fluent in teenspeak and parent too! I can help!
Self Esteem: We all know that how a person feels about themselves is key to success. But your teenager is no longer listening to you! They are drawing their feedback from music, TV, friends, and school! How do you get through to them? And how do you know if they are in trouble? Do they isolate perhaps a little too much? Say things that indicate they think they aren't good enough? A self esteem check up might be in order! Poor self esteem is often the first indicator of larger problems like depression. Lets get ahead of it before it gets bigger!
School and Social Anxiety: We live in one of the most competitive areas in the nation for school performance, and while it is natural for parents to want their children to be their best, we must also encourage balance. Whether your child is the next soccer star or is out to cure cancer, if they cant sleep at night or focus on regular daily activities, they wont get very far. Is your child afraid to take tests? Constantly worried about grades or college entrance applications? Avoiding homework for fear of failure? It may be time to talk.
ADD/ADHD: Medications can only take you so far when it comes to focusing and good habits. Parents need to know how to be healthy role models and set realistic expectations. Sometimes intervention at school is needed as well so your child is properly supported. Lets work together to get past the diagnosis and help your child succeed at school and home.
Cutting: This is a growing epidemic that I treat frequently. It is indeed very scary and requires careful attention. It is not always a suicidal gesture, but it cannot be ignored. If you believe your child has cut or engaged in any self harm activities whatsoever, immediate intervention is necessary.
Sexual Orientation: Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender teens are coming out to their friends and families at much earlier ages now. Though they enter a more educated world, they still face harsh realities that include rejection, bullying, depression and safety issues. Where they do not find love and support, they face higher suicide rates and are more likely to abuse substances to deal with their emotional pain. Parents, you make the difference. Lets work together towards love, acceptance, and understanding.
Depression and Suicide: If your teen is experiencing difficulty in some or all of the following areas please have them seen as soon as possible: Significant change in eating habits; significant change in sleeping habits; withdrawal from people and activities they previously enjoyed; abrupt drop in grades; engaging in substance use and/or sexual activity. Parents, please follow your instincts. If you think your child is in trouble, act now. If you need immediate assistance, take your child to the nearest Emergency Room or dial 911.