Anger Management For Adolescents

Is your child rude, difficult to talk to, or sad? We all recognize the most noticeable face of anger; those behavioral problems that manifest as blowups. But, anger can translate not only as an overtly aggressive child, but also as one who withdraws and refuses to communicate. If you feel like there is more going on with your kid than meets the eye, you may be right to be concerned.

Though kids may not appreciate parents’ interference in their affairs, it’s better to confront these cries for help before they escalate. As always, the litmus test for making any decision in your child’s welfare is evaluating if that child will appreciate you for it when he or she is an adult. No teenager will thank you for limiting his or her freedoms now, because that is counter to their developmental level. But no 25-year-old I have ever met inside my therapy room or out has been thankful to parents for allowing them to experience things (drugs, sex, autonomy) they later realize they were not ready to handle. So, with that in mind, here are a few tips for helping your angry teen.

1) Limit the number of violent things they watch/listen to/play: Experts estimate that the average teen has seen thousands of violent deaths depicted in tv, movies, and video games by the time he or she turns 18. We would be foolish to think that this does not desensitize our children to glamorized shows of anger. Think carefully not just about what you are allowing your teen to absorb through his or her media choices, but also about what they can be exposed to when they are at their friends’ houses as well. Keep tabs on who they hang out with, where, and talk to them about how to make good choices when they are not with you.

2) Be a good role model: Kids will do as you do, not as you say. If you routinely lose your temper, become angry and aggressive in traffic, yell at or hit your partner/spouse (or allow him or her to do this to you), and are rude and dismissive towards service people, your child will always model that behavior. They learn how to manage conflict and mediate stressful emotions from you. Consider yourself the architect of the blueprint for how your kids will treat their future employees, spouses, and children. If you need to get help to manage your own levels of stress and acting out, tell your kids that you are doing so, and then really do it. Parents are not to blame for all of their children’s problems. Certainly, some kids come into the world with tendencies that will be expressed in their behaviors. But, parents often have more influence over their children then they realize. Use it wisely.

3) Help your kids feel empowered: Resolving anger isn’t just about decreasing negative behaviors. It’s about increasing self-esteem so that kids feel positive about themselves and have more options in lieu of the bad behaviors. If your child is being bullied at school, be proactive about making it stop. If your child is the bully at school, help him or her get into counseling immediately. Some kids have a more difficult time fitting in at school than others. If your child is one of those kids, help him or her find another outlet like art, dance, sports, or youth groups at your place of worship.

4) Help your kids unplug and be part of the family: In the old days, when kids left school, all further communication with their friends had to go through the family phone. Now, teens are connecting around the clock via private cell phones with texting and social networking sites. The high drama of being a teen with any sort of social life needs to be mediated by the unconditional love and positive regard of being part of a family. Though they don’t know it, kids benefit from time to decompress from constant social interaction with their peers. If you’re not the one talking to your kid about his or her day, putting it all into perspective, and giving advice, someone else (much younger and less wise) will be doing it.

If you have any questions about how you can help your kid get off to a good start this school year and keep the momentum going, please feel free to drop me an email or give me a ring.

Your Partner in Healing,

Holly

If you would like a FREE 30-minute consultation to see if I might be a good fit for your counseling needs, please call me at 407.913.4988 or email holly@nova.edu.

www.lotustherapycenter.com

Success in Family Counseling

If there are two groups of people that don’t want to be in the same room at the same time when the same argument is happening for the 5,009th time, it’s parents and teens. Young adults manage to conjure up rather remarkable dark, withering stares that leave me chilly from across the room. And, they often continue that voodoo side eye the entire first session. However,  I can hardly blame them–I wouldn’t trust me at first either. Why would it make sense to make yourself vulnerable to someone you can only assume is aligned with your parents?

The job of a good family counselor is to find a way to communicate with everyone in the family, surly teens included. So how can parents help family therapy meet with success?

1) Do your research–Participating in family counseling requires you to trust the therapist enough to allow that person to speak with your kids alone, and to keep some things confidential about those conversations. Of course, if I hear anything that leads me to believe your child is in danger or may be hurting him or herself, you will be advised of the situation. Otherwise, sessions between counselors and kids are somewhat private. Knowing this, you should interview several therapists and choose one you believe shares your goals and values.

2) Do your homework–Therapy is like a rest stop on the road of family life. It’s a place to get a cool drink, gather your thoughts, and stretch for a moment. But, the real stuff is happening outside of my therapy room. If I assign homework, it’s because I want to bridge the learning between sessions and encourage consistent change throughout the week. When you participate outside of therapy as well as inside the meetings, you will teach your children that family is important and that growth is everyone’s responsibility.

3) Ask Questions–Now is the time to ask your kids how they’re feeling and what they make out of challenges facing the family. Families who succed in therapy do so because they have learned to break out of old ruts and speak to one another in a process-oriented way. When you enlist your kids to help solve problems (including the ones they create) they will feel valued and give you a taste of their love and creativity.

Your Partner in Healing,

Holly

If you would like a FREE 30-minute consultation to see how I can help you achieve your goals, please call me at (407) 913.4988 or email holly@lotustherapycenter.com

www.lotustherapycenter.com