Is My Teen Okay?

Yes, and no.  That’s a complicated question, and one that most parents of teens wonder.  Parents often suddenly feel disconnected from their teen. They have no idea what is going on in their mind or their lives and it’s often hard to tell from the surface if the teen is ok.  Honestly, your teen isn’t even sure if they are ok.

Your teen is going through a lot of physical and emotional changes that can make it seem like they are completely out of control and irrational.  Their bodies and brains are growing at an incredible rate.  School demands are increasing each year with a strong and pressuring emphasis on getting into THE BEST college.  Friends are coming and going. And, I often find that teens are constantly working through competing needs that they don’t know how to share because they can’t always put words to them, and aren’t willing to be vulnerable enough to share them.  They are simultaneously trying to meet the needs for independence and nurturing. They want to feel, and be seen as, independent.  They are coming into adulthood and are very aware of that.  At the same time, they want to be nurtured, taken care of.  But they will never be caught dead telling you that they need you.  In their minds they are grown and need to show that.

Here’s where you, trusted adult, come in. ( I say trusted adult, because this really applies to all of the adults in a teens life, not just parents)  The best ways you can support your teen is to first keep these needs in mind.  Remind yourself that they are figuring a lot out, and just because they say they don’t say it, they need you.  So ask how they’re doing, set aside time for them, nurture them in those ways you always have.   I know what you are thinking – they don’t let me.  Don’t stop trying.  Don’t let it be an option.  Ignore the negative response (easier said than done), including the eye roll, complaint, and attitude.  Deep down they really need you, they just don’t know how to say that.

And give them space to fail.  I’m not talking anything monumental, like failing high school, or getting injured.  Let them miss that assignment deadline.  Let them be sleep through their alarm and miss first period.  Let them say the wrong thing, wear the wrong thing, do the wrong thing.  Because they need to learn how to fix their mistakes.  They need to learn to feel what it’s like to make a mistake.  They need to learn what it means to be grown, but in small ways.  I like to think of parents and the school system as a safety net.  Allow teens to make the mistakes they need to make in order to learn, with you and their support system as a safety net.  Then when they are actually grown, they have some tools in their belt to be able to handle what life brings them.

I want to clarify that there are some things to look for that are outside of reasonable mistakes.  If your child is demonstrating any unsafe behaviors or thoughts, intervene immediately.

Parenting teens is hard work.  I’d love to join you on that journey of supporting your teen through critical years, while maintaining your sanity, because it is possible.

-Stephanie Samudio, LCSW

Love Your Body

loveyourbody

The messages are all around us; on social media posts, magazine covers, television, and movies- that beauty is your worth. It is hard not to critique ourselves, when we live in a world that constantly and heavily emphasizes looks and outer appearance. From Kylie Jenner lip kits, to the pressure to look good immediately after having a baby, I’m not surprised I see so many individuals in therapy feeling these unrealistic expectations. Having these expectations can make teen girls and women feel less than their worth, creating low self-esteem. Social media posts of models and celebrities portray a false sense of security with the amount of followers and likes a person has on their Instagram/Facebook page. Is that really an accurate way to measure a person’s beauty? ABSOLUTELY NOT.

 

As a therapist, I often preach self-care to my clients. A part of that is of course loving yourself and loving your body. How do you do that?

 

Here are some tips to help you feel good about YOU and LOVE YOUR BODY:

 

  • Create a list of all the things that your body lets you do. Be sure to read it aloud and add to it weekly.
  • Be your body’s friend, not enemy!
  • Honor your body. Respect your body.Respect and honor other bodies too. When you begin to see others as the beautiful people they are, you will have a much easier time loving who you are.
  • Write positive notes to yourself and post them on your mirror. “You are beautiful” is just one example.
  • Wear comfortable clothes that you like and that feel good to your body.
  • Don’t let your weight keep you from participating in the activities you enjoy.
  • Think about all the things you could enjoy and accomplish with the time and energy you currently spend worrying about your appearance.
  • Reduce time spent on social media. Unfollow accounts that make you think any less of yourself.
  • Increase positive social interactions with people or pets. Increased interactions allow you to talk about goals and dreams with others while listening to their stories. Interactions with pets help as you can focus your energy on that pet and not completely on yourself. You learn to give and take love unconditionally.
  • Treat your body to a massage or a bath. It deserves it!
  • Every night before you go to bed, tell your body how much you appreciate it for what it has allowed you to do throughout the day.

Love your body,

Jennifer