Distinctives treating younger teenagers
As kids enter their teenage years they are faced with new pressures that come with puberty and increased social and academic demands. Emotions become more intense and risk-taking behavior often increases. Working with younger teenagers can be challenging as they often resort to more immature coping strategies when overwhelmed such as refusing to communicate, avoidance, passive aggression, etc. Younger teens also have much greater awareness of their parents’ faults and can start to challenge the status quo as they form their own views of the world. A teenager’s unique strengths also begin to emerge at this age.
Reasons for seeking treatment
- Oppositional behavior at home
- An increase in risky behaviors
- Experimentation with self-harm
- Increase in suicide risk
- Eating disorders
- Academic problems
- Social problems
- Body image
- Withdrawal from parents
- Changes in friend groups
- Increased depressive symptoms
- Sleep disorders
- Experimentation with drugs and alcohol
- Emerging sexual identity
- School refusal and anxiety
Demands on parenting younger teenagers
One of the main challenges of parenting younger teens is the growing reliance on friendships over parents. Social acceptance becomes a primary concern for teens–often pushing away parents to make room for friends. As such, younger teens may seem closed off, making it difficult for parents to understand what’s going on inside the minds and lives of their child. Heavier issues also begin to arise increasing a parent’s urgency to remain connected with their teen.
How we work with younger teenagers and their families
When we work with younger teens, who are growing in their independence, we encourage more ownership and autonomy over the therapy process. Even when younger teens refuse to talk, we find ways to help them communicate in other ways. As young teens grow, so do their legal rights; partial confidentiality means young teenagers’ privacy is respected with exceptions of safety and abuse. We help young teens learn how to be respectfully assertive with his or her parents, and help them lean into their strengths–building on their growing sense of identity.