The teenage years can be a challenging time for our adolescents.
Teenage years is a crucial phase in our lives as it bridges the gap between childhood and adulthood. Many significant developmental tasks are achieved during this stage, such as building identity, establishing social competence and psychological resilience.
Many teenagers experience heightened emotions and mood swings due to hormonal changes. This may be a turbulent time for them as they are less equipped to cope with negative emotions and setbacks as compared to adults. In Singapore, our teenagers also face a significant amount of academic stress and significant peer pressure due to the popularity of social media. As such, your child may need some extra help in navigating through his or her teenage years.
Working with a professional counsellor can help your child in managing these issues:
- Anxiety and Fear
- Peer Pressure
- Academic Stress
- Difficult Parent-Child Relationships
- Disengagement in School
- Body Image and Self-Esteem Issues
- Identity Issues
The teenage years can also be a challenging time for parents. Attempts to show love, care and concern may appear to teenagers as controlling and intrusive behavior. Your well-meaning intentions are often misunderstood. Communication between you and your child could have broken down. You may also find yourself dealing with challenging behaviors from your child such as lying, skipping school, and talking back.
This is where counselling can play a significant interventionist role. Working with a professional counselor like me will allow your child to discuss their issues in confidence. Through my experience volunteering in secondary schools during my practicum, I am well placed to grasp the common psychological issues that teenagers face.
As a professional counsellor, I am confident that I can step forward and help. Through well-designed counselling plans and therapy, teenagers will also learn healthy coping strategies to help them transit successfully into adulthood. If you unsure if a counselling session with me is the best for your teen, please do not hesitate to contact me for more information.
Frequently Asked Questions
When should I seek counselling for my child?
If your child is in serious danger of harming himself or others, please seek help immediately. A few examples of when you should seek help immediately are if your child is self-harming (e.g. cutting, drinking, or abusing drugs), voicing out suicidal thoughts, or if you suspect that he or she has an eating disorder.
Some things to look out for would be recent occurrence of stressful events, family history of mental illnesses, lack of positive friendships, and abnormal behavior. If you feel that your child does not have the adequate resources to cope with his or her challenges, you can consider seeking counselling for him or her.
How should I talk to my child about going for counselling?
Referring your child for counselling can be tricky. Some teenagers may appreciate the extra support, while some teenagers may view it as a betrayal or a punishment. This is especially if you and your child have been engaged in conflicts over his or her behaviors for a while.
Be honest with your child about why you feel he or she needs counselling, and ask if he or she agrees that they need help. Explain to him or her about what counselling is and how you feel it might be beneficial to him or her and to your family. Invite them to think about it and tell them that you will talk to them about the idea of counselling again the next day or later in the week.
When introducing counselling to your child, avoid associating counselling as a punishment by criticizing or blaming your child. Even if you feel angry and frustrated, avoid making statements such as, ‘You are out of control. I have no choice but to send you to see a counselor.’ or ‘I am going to tell your counselor what you have done.’ This is not helpful for your relationship with your child, and may also damage the counselling relationship.
If you still unsure about how to talk to your child about counselling, please feel free to reach out to me.
What should I do if my child is not keen on counselling?
If your child indicates that he or she is not receptive to the idea of counselling, you may want to adopt the approach of ‘watch and wait’. Sometimes, adolescents manage to overcome their own challenges, and it helps them to build resilience and confidence in their own abilities.
Tell your child that you heard what he or she is saying, and that you respect their decision. Together with your child, work out some indicators that will let the both of you know that counselling is the necessary next step. For example, an indicator may be when he or she fails the next examination, has a major outburst at home or in school, or misses school again due to anxiety. Always assure your child that he or she can feel free to go to you for help, or bring up the idea of counselling at anytime.
However, as mentioned above, if your child is in serious danger of harming himself or others, please seek help immediately.
What can I expect out of counselling?
Keep an open mind! While a teen’s disruptive behavior can be challenging for the entire family, it may not always be due to outright rebellion. Your teen may be exhibiting challenging behaviors due to other reasons, such as low self-esteem, friendship issues in school, or even because of an undiagnosed learning problem.
As such, do not be surprised if the counselling process takes a different turn from what you had expected. At times, it may also be important to involve you or another significant family member into the counselling process.