Parent Your Teen Like a Pro
Developmental Tasks of Teens"What's my focus here? What's the end goal?" You ask as you look at your pre teen or large use-to-be five year old. Since you asked! The end goal is for them to develop a self profile. The main developmental task is to know who they are and trust themselves. How do you know you are helping them do this? Look for selfishness.
Teenagers are selfish if they are doing it right. They need to be thinking about themselves, who they are, what they believe in, and what they want for their lives. Long lists of questions about who they are and what they like are popular around this time. Part of the initial fun of social media is you get to create a profile. Teens can labor over the best way to describe yourself in a few short words. It is fun... not just for the young, but the young at heart!
How Can I Help My Teen?
This season of life is a long chunk of time. On some days it may feel like your parenting job has finished! They're cooked! And in five minutes you may feel that you completely left out an ingredient. I want to provide you with a few questions for conversation. Also, a DIY therapy activity that can help your teenager build their lego tower of self. It is a process. It takes time- but you start where you are with what you have!
What Do You Value?
Identify what values others have. We help your teenager do this in therapy. We use sticky notes and write out words like "smart, good grades, honest, funny". Then the teenager arranges them in order of what is important to them. We will have them reconfigure into what is important to their parents. Conflict often is born out of conflicting values (Ex: You want safety and they want adventure.) This is the first step to being able to communicate or handle conflict in a healthy way.
Therapy from The Kitchen Table
Identify your your values. Google a list of values and decide for yourself what is at the top of the list for you. What is at the bottom? Identify what others in your life like. Flip through a magazine or search through pinterest for images. Identify what you like. Identify what you don't like. Identify. Identify. Identify. It is was shapes your identity- and it has to build over time. Start somewhere.
Collaging to Build Identity
A collage, in therapy, is as good a place as any. Cut and paste images from magazines. Add a doodle here and arranging a few pictures there. The physical engagement with the media can be as cathartic as the end result. Then share what you made. The next step is to verbalize the thoughts and images that have been swimming. It is tougher than it sounds. It requires vulnerability. It also adds another block to the formation of the identity. Allow the therapist to use reflective listening. They will reflect back to you what they hear and you can confirm if it is correct. This makes sure you are communicating exactly what you like and dislike. As you repeat this, your identity is strengthened.
It is all a process. A fun, creative process! And you can guide them to it like a professional.