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Understanding Planet Teenager

Teen Therapy- HeadFirst Counseling in Dallas, TX

Understanding Planet Teenager

Your teenager says they want more independence. You grant it, and they break the rules. You ask your teen a simple questions and it can be impossible to get a straight answer. Sometimes it may seem that teenagers come from a different planet and are impossible to understand and communicate with effectively. Deciphering the shoulder shrugs and the occasional “fine” is hard enough, but add in the conflicting behaviors of typical teens and it can feel like an alien has landed in your home.

Sound familiar? That’s because most teenagers develop similarly, and the strange, often bizarre, behaviors observed from your teenager might be quite normal for their age. Turns out teenagers are still developing the part of the brain that helps them with planning, sequencing, long term consequences, and more advanced abstract thinking. They may look like adults (and act like them sometimes), but they are not quite there yet.

While it is important to give teenagers as much freedom and independence as possible, it is also important to remember that they are still learning and growing. They will occasionally experience lapses in judgment because their brain is trying to catch up (this can let them off the hook sometimes- the really couldn’t see the long term consequences of leaving food in the bedroom for days!).

The most important thing you can provide for your teenager is consistent, predictable, positive experiences with you- the primary caretaker. Consistent and predictable consequences for unacceptable behavior. Consistent house rules and family time. Positive experiences together doing things the teenager enjoys.

All of these will help your teen develop in an optimal way to reach their full potential, so that when they are confronted with a situation that requires them to access the higher functioning parts of their brain they are able to do so.

Here are some signs that your teen may benefit from therapy (i.e., a little outside the expected teen acting out behaviors):

  • Isolation from friends and family

  • Lying or manipulative behavior

  • Destructive, reckless, or dangerous behavior

  • Defiant behavior

  • Crying frequently with no apparent cause

  • Changes in eating or sleeping patterns

  • Changes in mood

  • Rapid change of social circles

  • Long sleeves/loose clothing (if different than before- look for changes in behavior)

  • Decline in academic performance

  • Physical complaints- headache, stomachache, hives, sensitivities to light or sound

Many of the symptoms listed above could be the result of an underlying emotional or psychological tension. The therapists at HeadFirst can help to uncover the root of the issue and help your teenager find positive solutions to what is ailing them, and provide support and acceptance as they process feelings and experiences. Give us a call at (469) 665-9416 or email to get started.

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