A BLOG FOR PARENTS WHO WANT TO LEARN HOW TO NAVIGATE THE TEEN YEARS AND NOT JUST SURVIVE BUT THRIVE!
Do you feel like you just don’t know what’s going on with your kiddo anymore? One minute they were this happy, playful, sweet kiddo and the next minute they’re this not-so-little person! Just when you thought you had this whole parenting thing down everything changes. Suddenly none of those tried and true techniques and hacks work anymore!
Sounds like we need to learn some new tips and tricks to up your parenting game, get you back in the know, and feeling confident in what you are doing again. During some of those late night google searches you have might have come across the term parenting coaching. You figure, “Maybe it’s a good idea to ask someone for some guidance. I don’t have all the time in the world to figure this out and I definitely don’t want things to stay they way they are right now.”
Let me walk you through what Parent Coaching is, how it differs from psychotherapy, and the benefits of coaching so you can decide if this is a right fit for you.
So what exactly is parent coaching? The way I handle coaching with my clients is by taking a team or partnership approach. I offer education to help parents understand what is happening for their teen from a developmental stand point. This helps us then work on identifying the best strategies for improving communication, setting realistic expectations, how to be supportive of their teen, how to set effective limits and related consequences, as well as how to develop deeper relationships with their teens. I help parents focus on their present concerns and work towards future goals.
Parent coaching does not have us focus on the past extensively, provide a psychological diagnosis, file with insurance, look at how you feel or look at why you behave the way you do. These are the typical markers of a psychotherapy session. Parent coaching is highly structured and goal/task oriented. If there are struggles with reaching these goals, then it is possible that psychotherapy is necessary to help us understand and work through the blocks. If this is the case then I would refer the client out for therapy services. It is important to keep the two, parent coaching and psychotherapy, separate because they have different goals/purposes in mind.
Now, what exactly do you gain from Parent Coaching? While this is not an exhaustive list by any means, here are some of the things my clients gain from working with me: confidence in their parenting skills, healthier communication within the home, build a stronger relationship with their teens, better able to stick with and maintain parenting goals, develop positive and respectful parenting solutions, learn about the best parenting practices based on current research, how to handle parenting in the tech era, and learn how to implement healthier self-care practices to prevent burnout.
So if these benefits sound like exactly what you need, then Parent Coaching just might do the trick!
For more tips and tricks for healthier communication with your teen, check out my 3 Leading Communication Pitfalls and How to Avoid Them Handout.
So you’re considering therapy or maybe someone you know and trust has recommended your teen should give it a try. Is it really worth it? What can your teen really gain from working with a therapist?
Here are 3 ways therapy can benefit your teen:
1. Non-judgmental Environment.
Let’s face it; it is human nature to judge everything and anything. It can be hard to turn that off even when we are parenting. Teens feel judged and criticized most of the time. Therapy is a place designed to provide clients with the opportunity to explore deep thoughts, feelings and concerns without fear of judgment, criticism, or punishment. Therapists are trained to provide these elements while also helping people learn how to move towards living their best life, which is in alignment with their values and goals in life.
2. Learn Practical Coping Strategies.
As parents we often share our most helpful coping skills with our kids in the hopes that it will help them. Teens often don’t listen to them or even try them because they are seeking to figure things out for themselves and become more independent. A therapist often takes on the role of mentor, which teens gravitate towards because they feel more involved in the process of finding solutions together. On the other hand when they engage with their parents, they feel like they are being “told what to do.” In therapy clients learn coping skills that can be utilized at home, school or out in public. Some are internal self-soothing strategies and some require external sources of interaction. Some examples include learning to examine thoughts and challenging them, mindfulness exercises such as meditation and deep breathing, and art related interventions.
3. Boost Self-Esteem and Self-Confidence.
I think we can all agree that everyone could use a little more self-esteem and self-confidence. While parents are a great place for kids to learn to believe in themselves sometimes as these kids turn into teens they begin to question those moments of positive praise from parents. Ever heard, “You’re just saying that...” or “You have to say that, you’re my mom/dad.” Part of the work in therapy is often to help clients see their inner strengths and skills so they can go out into the world feeling empowered, able to set healthy boundaries with others, and have more direction. How this is achieved in therapy depends on the therapist and their theoretical approach to working with clients. I will often use art making and creating as a way to develop a sense of mastery and help develop a stronger level of self-esteem.
Therapy can be beneficial in so many ways and on so many levels these 3 are just some of the ones I see most often.
So you want to get your teen into therapy. Now what? Download my 7 Things to Look for When Considering a Therapist for a list of things to look out for when deciding whether a therapist might be a good fit. Click on the link below to get your list!
So what exactly is the difference between therapy and parent coaching? How do you know what is best for you and your teen? I’m going to walk you through what therapy is first and then I’ll discuss what is involved with parent coaching and how it differs from traditional talk therapy.
The American Psychiatric Association defines psychotherapy, or talk therapy, as “…a way to help people with a broad variety of mental illnesses and emotional difficulties.” With this type of treatment, the focus is on an identifiable issue that is impacting your teen’s daily functioning. This means it’s impacting their schoolwork, social or home life. So in therapy our attention is on treating the issue and its symptoms using behavioral, cognitive and analytic interventions. The therapist will often look to the past in order to develop insight, awareness, and healing. As I work with my teen clients and sometimes their parents, we explore current patterns of behavior, possible sources of distress, and work towards implementing new ways of thinking and coping with life’s situations. Therapy helps my clients see they are the solution not the problem.
When it comes to coaching the focus is on untapped present possibilities so that we can link it to awareness, which leads to action. We do not discuss past transgressions, injuries or sources of distress. During parenting coaching sessions, the coach has a structure in mind and is more focused on being task/goal oriented. The coaching sessions are concerned with the present and future, as well as being collaborative and informational in nature. Parent coaching is about working together as a team towards a desired goal. This can look like better communication between parents and teen, implementing more positive discipline practices, developing healthier boundaries, increasing parenting confidence, creating healthy self-care practices, and learning about how to best support your teen who might be struggling with a mental health issue.
So as you can see one of the main differences between therapy and parent coaching is that with therapy the focus is on working with the identified client, which is often the teen in my work. Coaching on the other hand would be centered on guiding the parent(s) and helping them learn new skills for parenting their teens and thriving during this new phase in parenthood. Another major difference is between the way the therapist/coach works with the client. As a therapist there is an understanding that they are the expert and are there to heal whereas the coach is seen as a collaborator/partner.
Still wondering if therapy or parenting coaching is for you and your teen? Check out my quiz for helping you decide which option would be best!
So how can you tell what might be “typical teenage stuff” or something more serious?
The teen years can be such a turbulent time for everyone involved. They are growing and changing so fast it’s hard to keep up! Each generation faces different challenges which makes it difficult to know what is part of “normal” development.
Here are 5 signs that your teen might be struggling with some mental health issues:
1. Grades start to dip.
It’s pretty typical to notice some changes in grades during adolescence. Think about it, they are older and smarter so it’s only natural that the school work becomes tougher to continue challenging their growing minds. Expectations from teachers and parents start to change because they are capable of more now. So there may be an adjustment period and they may need to dedicate more time to school work or start going to tutoring. The part that isn’t typical is when grades dip significantly, for an extended period of time, and you notice a change in attitude towards school in general.
2.They become socially isolated from family and friends.
Social skills development is crucial to the teen years. Lots of parents can notice a shift from family oriented engagement to wanting to spend more time with their friends. This is part of that “normal” teenage development because it is helping them learn how to become more independent. It is also common for teens to experience changes in their friend groups because of changes in interests, experimenting with identity, and clashes with values. What we want to watch out for is when we notice little to no engagement with family and with peers. This lets us know something else is happening.
3. You notice a change in their appetite.
Among the many changes during adolescence is changes to the body. Due to hormonal and growth patterns it makes sense that eating habits will change as well. An increase in the amounts of food being consumed or the amount of times a day is typical. What we want to watch for is any significant or drastic increase or reduction of the amount of food being eaten. These can again be signs that something more is at play. Food can often be a place where teens can feel a sense of control in their life or it can be a form of coping with stress or other emotions, which can lead to more problems further down the road.
4. Changes in sleep patterns.
Noticing your teen does not wake up for school or needs extra help getting up in the morning? It’s very possible they are not getting enough sleep. According to the national sleep foundation, teens need 10 hours of sleep a night. This can become something difficult to achieve given the growing homework load and extra curricular activities teens start to engage in. They might also be having a tough time “turning off their brain” due to all that’s happening and changing for them right now. This might then mean they are on their phones, talking to friends, or on social media until the early morning hours. What we want to watch out for is if they are getting less than these 10 hours or more than the 10 hours and why. If they are getting the recommended amount, and still feeling tired this might mean something else is bothering them.
5. Mood shifts.
If there was only one word parents could use to describe their teens during adolescence I think it would be “ moody.” Because of those biological changes and influx of hormones it is common for teens to experience shifts in mood and difficulties managing them. Everything about the teen years is at level 10, especially emotions. What we want to look out for though are drastic or significant changes in mood regulation. Do you notice any significant difference in anger, irritability, sadness, or crying? Does it feel like these moods shift from moment to moment? Do they last for days, weeks, months? If so, then a little more digging is required.
All of these signs can be within a “normal range” but it is when we notice significant or drastic changes in our teens that we should consider reaching out for some additional help.
So what are some solutions to helping your teen learn to work through their mental health struggles? Grab the free Solutions Handout below for my top 3 options in working through mental health issues with teens by clicking below.
Wishing you hope & healing.
Happy New Year and welcome to my blog! My name is Janette D. Macias. I am a Licensed Professional Counselor with a private practice in Mckinney, Texas. I have specialized training in Art Therapy and am currently finishing my full licensure hours. My love of art, and it’s ability to express our deepest experiences when words fail us, then lead me to incorporating art therapy in my practice.
I am passionate about working with teens and young adults as they learn to navigate the transitions into adulthood. Teens and young adults are often overlooked and misunderstood. Unlike most of the adults they interact with who have specific goals for them in mind, I offer them a space to be truly seen and heard just as they are; messy, creative, and eager to take on life.
I have found that the therapeutic hour does not always allow for enough time to work with both the teen and their parents. There’s just too much ground to cover. Between works, long school days, after school activities, and home-life it’s hard for parent’s to find time to come in for parent consults or coaching sessions. I find it extremely important to help parents of teens and young adults work through this complicated and exciting part in the parenting journey.
It is this “finding time” issue that led me to creating this blog. I want a space for parents, like you, to come when you finally do have those few moments to yourself. I want you to find both validation in your experience of parenting teens, and some helpful information to support you in feeling more empowered, confident and connected when parenting. Part of being a present, intentional and supportive parent is making sure you are taking care of yourself too. With this in mind I plan on sharing ways to ensure your self-care needs are being met.
You can expect a weekly blog post, just like this one, with a given topic and free downloadable tips/guide sheets to help you not just survive the teen years but thrive!
Here’s to 2020 being the year you get into Parenting Creatively! Get excited!