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You've lived through 2 a.m. feedings, toddler temper tantrums, and the back-to-school blues. So why is the word "teenager" causing you so much worry?


When you consider that the teen years are a period of intense growth, not only physically but emotionally and intellectually, it's understandable that it's a time of confusion and upheaval for many families.


Despite some adults' negative perceptions about teens, they are often energetic, thoughtful, and idealistic, with a deep interest in what's fair and right. So, although it can be a period of conflict between parent and child, the teen years are also a time to help kids grow into the distinct individuals they will become.


Understanding the Teen Years

So when does adolescence start? Everybody's different — there are early bloomers, late arrivers, speedy developers, and slow-but-steady growers. In other words, there's a wide range of what's considered normal.


But it's important to make a (somewhat artificial) distinction between puberty and adolescence. Most of us think of puberty as the development of adult sexual characteristics: breasts, menstrual periods, pubic hair, and facial hair. These are certainly the most visible signs of puberty and impending adulthood, but kids who are showing physical changes (between the ages of 8 and 14 or so) also can be going through a bunch of changes that aren't readily seen from the outside. These are the changes of adolescence.


Many kids announce the onset of adolescence with a sudden and dramatic change in behavior around their parents. They're starting to separate from mom and dad and become more independent. At the same time, kids this age are increasingly aware of how others, especially their peers, see them and are desperately trying to fit in. Their peers often become much more important than parents as far as making decisions.


Kids often start "trying on" different looks and identities, and they become very aware of how they differ from their peers, which can result in episodes of distress and conflict with parents.


Butting Heads

One of the common stereotypes of adolescence is the rebellious, wild teen continually at odds with mom and dad. Although it may be the case for some kids and this is a time of emotional ups and downs, that stereotype certainly is not representative of all teens.


But the primary goal of the teen years is to work towards independence. To do this, teens must start pulling away from their parents — especially the parent whom they're the closest to. This can feel like teens are always at odds with parents or don't want to be around them the way they used to.


As teens mature, they start to think more abstractly and rationally. They're forming their own moral code. And parents of teens may find that kids who previously had been willing to conform to please them will suddenly begin asserting themselves — and their opinions — strongly and rebelling against parental control.


You may need to look closely at how much room you give your teen to be an individual and ask yourself questions such as: "Am I a controlling parent?," "Do I listen to my child?," and "Do I allow my teen's opinions and tastes to differ from my own?"


excerpted from Kid's Health, 2017

A Program To Help You Deal Effectively with Teen Problems

So why are the teen

years so frightening?

Relevant and informative reading for parents

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Help is here if you need it!

Why the

Language of Power

is worth it


Despite their most vehement of denials, teenagers at their core need and want to know that we as the adults are in charge. (Young adults in their mid and later 20s will freely admit this, especially as they start families of their own). And so when we speak the LANGUAGE OF POWER© to our teens, we will almost instantly get their full attention and respect.


Why? Because by communicating with them based on how they think we are reassuring them that we as the adults understand. We understand that they are not yet playing with a full deck because their brains are not yet fully developed and that they can never admit to this. We also understand that they are struggling to get a handle on their intensely social world where image is king. And so the LANGUAGE is both a transformative and disruptive technology. Many if not most teens struggle with office type individual therapy.


What does one hour of good quality therapy cost? Compare that to what we offer. And that makes the LOP an absolute bargain. And, best of all, you will be in control and in charge. As you gradually learn to follow and apply the PRINCIPLES, you will almost automatically find yourself feeling more and more powerful.


Simply by how you communicate...

Got Teenagers will update this column regularly with links to timely and relevant articles excerpted with permission from professional sources and websites. Click on title or follow instructions to read.

Case Study

From Tough Love to Empathic Love: Teaching Parents to Earn Their Children’s Respect

By Janet Sasson Edgette

September/October 2017


If I’d ever talked that way to my mother, she’d have killed me right there on the spot!” Over the years, I’ve heard some form of this lament from many parents complaining about the younger generation’s lack of respect for adults. Some think it’s because their kids aren’t afraid of them, not realizing that they don’t need their kids to be afraid of them to get them to do what they want. They just need their kids to respect them—and not their authority or status, but who they are and how they’ve chosen to show up as a parent.


That kind of respect eludes controlling or authoritarian parents. Preoccupied with commanding deference, some parents fail to recognize that a child’s respect is always something bestowed, not extracted. Thus, they end up forfeiting the opportunity to remain credible influences on their children in favor of levying control, which is a poor and costly approach to relationship building. After all, the ability to control one’s child is always time-limited: kids grow bigger, grow up. It was this feeling of losing control over her 12-year-old son, Jack, that brought Donna in to see me.


The Big Divide

Requesting a private parent consultation, Donna came to her first session alone. In her late 30’s, she’d been divorced for several years and was working successfully in the marketing industry. In addition to Jack, she had a nine-year-old daughter, with whom she cited no problems.


“Jack is so polite to his teachers and coaches and friends’ parents,” Donna told me. “They’d fall over backward if they found out how rude he is at home and how much we argue, especially when I ask him to help around the house. I don’t know what it is between us.” She paused before adding, “Every other weekend, he stays with his father, but he says he never has any problems getting Jack to listen to him.”

I asked Donna what had brought her in to see me now, rather than, say, six months ago. In response, she told me a story. After a recent snowstorm, Jack, at her request, had shoveled the driveway and front walkway but had refused to clear the last part of the sidewalk. The more Donna insisted he finish, the angrier and more defiant he became. In fact, he became so enraged that he lurched at his mother, who responded by chasing him around the kitchen table. “When I finally caught him,” she told me unapologetically, “I pinned him on the ground and screamed, ‘Now go shovel the sidewalk!’”


“Oh,” I said, nodding slightly. My facial expression stayed light, my eyes held hers, and I added, “Okay.” It was my way of telling Donna that I wasn’t at all rattled by what she’d shared, yet at the same time saw how deeply in trouble she felt as a parent.


“I’m not proud of it, but that’s why I’m here,” Donna said. “I know what I’m doing isn’t working, but I don’t know what else to do. I just wanted him to finish shoveling the sidewalk.”


Clearly, the failure of physical force to wrest compliance out of her son had marked the end of Donna’s ability to leverage control as a parenting strategy. The problem was that she had nothing with which to replace it. I responded to her by inviting her to revisit Jack’s refusal to do that last portion of the sidewalk with a sense of curiosity, rather than outrage. “Here’s a kid who did a few hours’ worth of shoveling for you,” I said, “so his behavior probably isn’t about just wanting to be difficult. I’d have been curious to find out what changed from earlier in the day. Maybe I’d have asked, ‘I don’t understand, Jack. You were so helpful all day, and your attitude now is so different. What’s going on?’”

“But isn’t the most important thing that he shovel the sidewalk? Otherwise he wins,” Donna replied.


“No,” I told her. “The most important thing is seeing the big divide that’s opening up between you and your son, and figuring out how you guys got there and how you can get back.” I wanted to introduce Donna to the idea that maintaining control, extracting an apology, or making sure a job gets done can matter less than taking care of the relationship. In this case, it could’ve been as simple as finding out whether something was troubling the boy.


“I’d be kowtowing to him if I don’t make him do the sidewalk,” Donna said, revealing to me the degree to which she sought control over Jack, and how far she was from seeing that “winning” wasn’t the most important thing in predicaments like these. I was also learning that empathy didn’t come easily to Donna, and wasn’t a quality she particularly valued. But I felt that showing my own empathy for her would encourage her to do the same for her son, helping her recognize the value of patience and understanding in crafting loving, lasting relationships.


“I think what’s important is understanding Jack’s decision to say no after having said yes for most of the day,” I responded. “Would you have been able to ask him about that with interest—like  genuine interest?”


Donna sat back. “Probably not. I was too angry by then.”

“I get it,” I said gently. “It could be that there’s just too much resentment at this point to respond thoughtfully in the moment.” I wanted to normalize Donna’s anger and her difficulty, showing her how I could be understanding when she probably expected me to be critical. “You know what I find sad about all this, Donna, is that something that could’ve been a conversation wound up being an argument. Maybe Jack was cold or tired. Maybe he felt he’d done enough. It’d be great if he could tell you, but most kids don’t just volunteer that on their own. They need somebody to ask them.”


“But, Janet, that’s not how the real world works,” Donna said tersely.

Whoa, okay, I thought. We’d quickly returned to the tough love, and now Donna was framing her treatment of Jack as being in his best interests.


“But it can be how your family works,” I replied softly. “Your home doesn’t have to be a training camp for the real world. It can be a place where your son learns what respect and being understood look like. He’ll still be held accountable for his choices, but this will help him in the real world a lot more than anything he’s going to get out of the school of hard knocks.”Donna stared at me. For a moment, I worried she’d stand up and walk out. Instead, almost imperceptibly, she slowly began to nod her head, and by the end of the session I felt I’d gained a bit of traction.


Respect vs. Control

Over the next week, I thought about Donna’s difficulty seeing an alternative to her deeply ingrained parenting style. Believing a large part of her tough-love approach was a hand-me-down from her family of origin, I started our next session by asking about her own parents.

]“They were both no-nonsense people,” she said. “You did what you were supposed to do, and that was that. Nobody ever asked what your reasons were for not doing something. Nobody cared.”


“Were there other influences on your parenting style besides your parents?” I asked. “Not really. The other day I told Jack, ‘I’m your mother, and you’re my child, and you need to do as I say!’ That was straight out of my parents’ playbook, but I was at a loss, and these days everything out of my mouth seems to be negative. I find myself either yelling or dripping with sarcasm. It’s a problem. Like last night, I was looking forward to watching some TV with Jack, but I was worried he’d do or say something to ruin the evening. So I tried to prevent that by saying, ‘You know, if someone doesn’t say something snide about finishing his homework, we might actually be able to watch some TV.’ Jack looked at me and then just spent the rest of the night in his room. So instead of him ruining the evening, it was me.”


“Donna,” I replied, “so many of your interactions with Jack are based on what you can or can’t get him to do. I want to help you find other ways to influence and relate to him.” “Like what?” Donna asked.

“Well, you were just saying that yelling and sarcasm were your go-tos. What if you were more careful about how you spoke to Jack, maybe worried less about being in control of your interactions with him?”

“Yeah,” she sighed. “I know it just makes matters worse whenever I’m sarcastic.”


“I worry that it leaves him feeling resentful too, and that’s something that doesn’t just go away. Resentment builds and then bleeds all over everything if it’s not attended to.” “I know, it’s just that when we argue I’m usually so angry that I’ll do anything to get his attention, even if it means hurting his feelings.” “Donna, you already have Jack’s attention. What you really want is his respect. See if you can turn these arguments into conversations. Like when you told me about Jack getting mad at his sister for reading the book he’d left in the family room. You’d said something to him like, ‘Jack! You can’t keep her from reading the book. I bought that book, which means it’s my book. And I say she can have it!’ That’s a situation that didn’t need control. It needed de-escalating, and resolution.”


“I don’t know what else I’d say,” Donna replied quietly.

“What about something like, ‘Whoa, Jack, why are you so angry about your sister reading your book? What are you worried will happen?’” I was proposing a response to her son’s uncharitable reaction that would have expressed a wish to understand, not just reestablish the social order.


I thought this was the kind of suggestion Donna wanted. Instead, she said, “That feels like placating to me. I really think he just needs to suck it up sometimes.” It was as if, for Donna, empathy, or simply taking the time to try to understand a situation or a person, was a luxury that child rearing couldn’t afford.


I understood this was Donna’s default stance whenever her capacity to empathize was taxed, yet again we were at an impasse, with my therapeutic values centering around respect, clashing against her parenting values centering around control. I wasn’t insensitive to the fact that I was sitting across from a mother who was asking for help and exposing some of her worst moments as a parent. But what I really wanted to do was to tell Donna outright to stop calling her son names and being so antagonistic and confrontational with him. I wanted her to know that Jack’s defiance and disrespect were likely coming from pain and an attempt to protect himself from her microaggressions. I wanted her to realize that hardening a kid up for the “real world” means hardening him up toward his whole world, including the one he shares with his family.


I wasn’t sure how to help Donna parent more effectively from within her own paradigm, because I couldn’t support it. At the same time, I wrestled with the idea of presenting ideas from within mine that she couldn’t or wouldn’t want to embrace. What mattered most, however, was that Donna felt neither obligated to adopt my ideas nor guilty for disregarding them, while still wanting to talk about them.


Facilitating Self-Reflection

To keep kindness, empathy, and patience front and center in our work together, I started the third session by asking Donna if she thought Jack might be struggling with issues beyond their own conflict.


Donna thought for a few moments. “I think Jack was hoping for his father and me to get back together,” she finally said. “But a couple of weeks ago, his dad announced his engagement to someone else.”

“Have you spoken with Jack about it?”

“Yeah. I told him I was sorry he couldn’t have what he wanted.”

“What did he say?”

“He didn’t say anything. He just teared up.”

Hearing this, I thought about how close Donna had been to opening up a conversation about something that really mattered to Jack. If only she’d done it in such a way that her empathy could come through! “What if you went back to him and said that in a different way?” I suggested. “I think your words were on the mark, but they got lost in your delivery, which may have sounded almost businesslike to Jack, signaling the end of the conversation. He could only react, which he did, with tears.”


“How would I say that differently?” Donna asked.

“Maybe you reach out to touch him on the back and say softly that you’re so sorry that you and his dad couldn’t give him the one thing he wanted most in the world, the two of you getting back together.”

Now it was Donna who teared up. “I’d like to have said it that way,” she whispered.


“You still can,” I told her. “You can say, ‘You know, a few weeks ago, when we spoke about your dad getting engaged, I told you I was sorry you couldn’t have what you wanted. But I wish I’d said it differently, because I think I shut down the conversation, and I’m sorry. That wasn’t what I intended.” “If I know my son, he’ll say he doesn’t remember the conversation, or it didn’t bother him.” “You tell him that’s okay and that it bothered you, and that it was important for you to let him know that. And then just leave it there. Don’t make a big deal about it. It’s an opportunity to change the legacy of parenting in your family, to make it more respectful and emotionally intimate and, ultimately, more effective.”


“That’s just a whole different way of talking. I don’t know if I can do it,” she said. “It is different. But I think if you stick with it, and start seeing changes in your relationship with Jack, it’ll make it easier for you to keep going with it. Experiment, play with different words and phrases, see what feels natural to you.”


At this point, Donna began to express openness toward a different way of doing things. All along, I’d been trying to start a process of inquisitiveness with her—which could occur only if she could see me as someone credible as well as someone with whom she had no need to be defensive. I believe that my efforts to become emotionally compelling to Donna helped as well. After all, people make changes because of how they feel about the person making the recommendations, not because they were presented with a better idea.


A Boy Hugs His Mom

Donna returned a few weeks later for what would be her final session. She reported that she’d been trying to inquire rather than assume, and converse rather than argue, and she and Jack were getting along better. “I’m starting to enjoy hanging out with Jack, and I think he appreciates that I’ve tried to make things better,” she said. “He’s even started hugging me now, but it’s usually when I’m doing the dishes. He comes up behind me, and he knows my hands are wet and I can’t hug him back.” She seemed disappointed as she told me this.


“What’s wrong with that?” I asked.

“Well, I can’t hug him back. It’s like he’s controlling it.”

“Let him,” I said. “He’s a 12-year-old boy who wants to hug his mom but doesn’t want it to be this big deal. It’s a good thing.”

It was several moments before Donna spoke. “You know, I think I need to start thinking of him as this nicer kid, not someone trying to manipulate me.”


My goal for working with Donna had been, in part, to help her cultivate a faith in her ability to infuse her words and wishes and personal presence with the power her physical body had carried for years. I’d hoped she’d recognize the emotional and interpersonal returns that come from treating others carefully and respectfully. Her comments at the end of this session seemed a hopeful sign of positive shifts, not only in her parenting, but in her conception of her son. I supported her decision at that point not to schedule a next session and instead see how things went.


A year later, I got an email from her, telling me things were going well. She wrote, “You helped me see that changing how I interacted with Jack could change our dynamic. I try not to back him into corners or drive my agenda so hard anymore, and he hangs around longer at the dinner table. I also see far less anger in him.”


In the end, Donna didn’t need to say things exactly the way I said them or abandon her belief that a little tough love could be good for a kid. She needed only to be encouraged to talk with her son differently, respond more empathically, and reach out to him more kindly.

I believe most kids are eager to see their parents as worthy of their respect, and I find little else can affect a relationship as powerfully and as quickly as the reinstatement of respect between people. Granted, it’s hard for angry parents to change how they relate to their disrespectful kids before seeing a change in their kid’s behavior toward them. But somebody’s got to go first, and most kids will recognize their parents’ effort in taking the lead as the generous and ambitious gesture it is. That call to action is more persuasive than any reprimand will ever be.


CASE COMMENTARY

By Peter Fraenkel

Janet Sasson Edgette’s case study packs much clinical wisdom into a short space. The core of her strategy is to transform the parent’s approach from one of authoritarian attempts at control to one of nurturing a compassionate relationship. Decades of research by Gerald Patterson and others at the Oregon Social Learning Center, as well as Diana Baumrind’s classic work on authoritarian vs. authoritative parenting, document the destructive effects on children’s development when parents engage them in a coercive cycle of interaction. The more the parent attempts to exact compliance by force, the more the child resists and misbehaves, resulting in worsening behavior, resentment, and sometimes violence.


Edgette first sets out to engage Donna in stepping back and seeing her role in this escalation, and in wondering about the child’s feelings and perspectives fueling his “disrespectful” behavior. In this way, she seeks to elicit not just simple empathy, but what contemporary psychoanalytic family therapists like Peter Fonagy and Eia Asen call mentalization and theory of mind—the ability to imagine fully the child’s experience and motivations. As this case demonstrates, that’s easier said than done. Parents often stubbornly refuse to consider their children’s perspective, and instead, rigidly defend their theories of parenting, often reflecting how they themselves were raised.


When parents endorse their own parents’ authoritarian parenting, I ask them, “Were there ever times when you wished your mom or dad would have parented you differently?” Invariably, they’ll reveal moments when they wished their parents had been kinder and gentler, and more interested in their thoughts and feelings. This can become the basis for parents to experiment with novel ways of relating to their children. In my practice, I explore and validate the honorable intentions underlying a parent’s coercive approach. Usually, as in this case, the parent is afraid that if her child doesn’t straighten up and fly right, he’ll get in trouble in the world. So I suggest that her goals and intentions are excellent, but that her strategy is failing, and that there are far less emotionally expensive and stressful approaches.


In a first session, I always ask parents what they do for fun with the child—which often results in a blank stare and a response of “nothing, really.” For the following week, I’ll prescribe the parents to engage in some activity that the child enjoys, not what the parent thinks he should enjoy, even if it’s playing video games together. This becomes the new pleasurable bedrock upon which the parent–child relationship can be transformed. Kids are simply likelier to obey parents whom they not only respect, but also enjoy.


Given how stuck her client was in her ways, I admire how directive Edgette was in offering not only general parenting techniques, but specific words Donna might try out with her son. This contrasts with what I see as overkill in the strengths-based, nonhierarchical approach that’s so in favor these days. As in old-fashioned psychoanalytic therapy, it holds that therapists are supposed to avoid giving direct guidance, and should only elicit existing “subordinated narratives” or hidden strengths. But as this case illustrates, parents often have no positive memories from their own upbringing and no clue how to behave differently, and they need specific direction. If a therapist keeps asking the client for her own ideas, she’s likely to shout in irritation, “If I knew what to do, I wouldn’t be here!”


Yet just as Edgette, writes, our suggestions are not meant to be sure-fire formulas. Rather, we pair with our parent-clients in a joint, collaborative experiment in transformation, whereby every generic technique must be tweaked and fitted to the particular nature of their relationships with their unique children.


Finally, Edgette wisely highlights the importance of establishing an emotionally compelling relationship with the client, reminding us that a successful therapeutic relationship is parallel to a good parent–child relationship. If the child feels emotionally supported and connected to his parent, he’s willing to do what the parent knows is best for him. Our clients are temporarily like our children, no matter their age and intellectual sophistication, and they need our compassionate direction.


***

Janet Sasson Edgette, PsyD, is a child and adolescent psychologist and the author of Adolescent Therapy That Really Works and Stop Negotiating with Your Teen: Strategies for Parenting Your Angry, Manipulative, Moody or Depressed Adolescent. Her latest book is The Last Boys Picked: Helping Boys Who Don’t Play Sports Survive Bullies and Boyhood. Contact: janet@janetedgette.com.

Peter Fraenkel, PhD, is an associate professor of psychology at The City College of the City University of New York, and a faculty member and former director of the Ackerman Institute’s Center for Work and Family. He’s in private practice, and is the author of Sync Your Relationship, Save Your Marriage: Four Steps to Getting Back on Track. Contact: fraenkelorama@gmail.com.

Back To The Top

If Your Teen is Anxious,

Depressed, Sad, Despondent.


Note: Portions of this article refer to various Principles of the Language of Power.

The good news is that, unlike with disruptive teens, this may be an opportunity for you to get much closer to your struggling teen provided that you do a little preparation ahead of time.

Can you come to terms with your own " teenagehood"? (Very challenging!)     

You have seven full years experience with being a teenager. What kind of meaning have you put on this experience? Have you made judgments about yourself and your behavior during this period of your life? Do you have regrets, feel shame, and struggle to even get in touch with your teenage self? Do you carry around feelings about how your parents handled you back then, what they did or didn't do, what you believe they should have done?

So Step 1 is to—as best you can—clear your head of baggage it may be carrying around about your teen experiences. See if you can get to the point where you can be open-minded and non-reactive when you hear the word " teenager". In truth, teenagehood is the time in our lives when we learn social constraints on our behavior. We have already learned physical constraints (touch a hot stove and get a burnt finger) or we would be in the hospital or six feet under! So if being a teenager is nothing more than a process of intense learning why do we so quickly rush to judgment? Especially about yourselves?

Step II: Obtain and digest the newspaper article by media personality and author Michael Smerconish (What To Do About An I Phone Generation That Is Less Rebellious, More Tolerant, Less Happy  - Philadelphia Inquirer 9/1/17). You may also want to review the book by author and professor Jean Twenge featured in that article.

Step III: And finally, if you haven't dropped out, carefully review Why Are More American Teenagers Than Ever Suffering From Severe Anxiety? (New York Times Magazine (10/11/17).

This is the information you need to know in order to communicate with your anxious, withdrawn and depressed teen. It is almost the mirror opposite of engaging a disruptive and defiant teen although—truth be told —sometimes lurking behind out-of-control teen behavior is the very same anxiety, sadness and dismal self concept (remember your teen years here? The supreme importance of image and self-concept? The good news again is that because adolescents are daily engulfed in a continuous social learning process, then self-concept and perhaps psychological diagnoses and labels can—literally- change in a heartbeat. Consider a teen in year after year foster care with no family— just (hopefully) caring people (strangers) doing the best they can for her. Then suddenly a distant blood relative is located who is interested in stepping up to the plate. The demeanor and behavior that precipitated all the diagnoses (and medication) can and often does disappear almost overnight! Teenagers are not adults, do not yet have an adult brain, and so can't possibly think like adults).

Perhaps I can summarize this article for you:

     1) All of us humans—ALL OF US—have this little Voice in our head that comments and dialogues continuously. Don't believe? See how long you can stop thinking, Nothing—especially thinking about not thinking. (There are a lucky few who have learned through dogged persistence to slowly and briefly stop this little Voice through practices such as meditation and mindfulness but doing so is absolutely not a walk in the park).

     2) Your teen's confusion and worry almost surely comes from what her Voices are telling her about what kind of person she really is. It's like being sabotaged 24-7! By yourself!

     3) Our Voices-in-our-head seem to specialize in coming up with the most negative explanations possible to interpret/explain whatever we might be running into on a daily basis.

     4) If you can begin to follow the pretty clear approaches used by the obviously very competent therapists at the residential facilities described in the Times article, go for it. After all, many of us can't afford to pay the freight for such therapy (maybe most of us?)

     5) You may decide that you need to hire a local therapist to assist. Before signing up, ask the kind of questions that don't tip your hand but help you determine if the therapist specializes or has extensive experience with teens—and especially if he/she is skilled in dealing with the " Voices". (It's often called cognitive behavioral therapy)  

     6) (How to do #4). If your circumstances are such that this is where you're at, don't despair. Follow the LOP PRINCIPLES in order to establish (regain?) a context of trust with your teen.

Don't run with your own agenda! Keep reviewing Principle #2


Let the teen's non-verbal behavior tell you when to initiate a dialogue.


Ask permission to do so of your teen! (This is vintage Principle #4)


Scrupulously follow PRINCIPLE #4—at least until trust and a natural free flowing dialogue is present.


Explain to your teen about the Voices. Perhaps even let her review the articles.

Ask her to keep a private journal of the Voices that create herself concept and anxiety problems.


Ask her—when you think she is ready—to practice talking back to the Voices, telling them to shut up, etc.

Stay away from the content of the Voices unless it involves an actionable safety issue.

Have her—using the journal—discover which " thoughts" (statements?) from the Voices become repetitive.

If you can get this far, your teen should herself begin to mention content, and question it.

You are now entering the Nirvana stage! If you are able to yourself get your own flesh and blood to herself begin questioning the assumptions about herself she is making because of the content of the Voices, you may have a career as a therapist yourself!

Finally—stay on the pathway, be consistent, above all be patient! Rome wasn't built in a day! There will be many ups and downs. Ride with them. Being a teenager is a transient affliction— nothing lasts forever! So long as you're going in the right direction, hang with it. Down the road your teen will be eternally grateful. Especially when she has teens of her own.

In one sentence: Your only agenda should be to learn to engage and relate to your teen based on how she thinks!  Everything begins and ends there...

Even the most talented and accomplished of therapists sometimes struggle to find the right words to use with teens. For a specific example use www.gotteenagers@gmail and ask for "Dissection of the Dialogue".


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