By: Dr. Erica Wollerman
For several months now, our blog has focused on helping parents understand just what it might be like for their teens to well, be a teen in our current culture. I truly hope that by discussing what I am observing in my office week in and week out can be helpful to illuminate just how challenging it can be to grow up in our modern world. While in some ways, teens lives seem so much easier due to technology, I am of the belief that they are also so much more challenging for the exact same reason!
Just to review a bit, we have discussed the following topics:
While I know it might seem excessive to go over this again, I wanted to note that each of these challenges are contributing to the increased anxiety and fear that parents feel BUT ALSO THAT SAME ANXIETY AND FEAR TEENS ARE FEELING. We are seeing record numbers of anxiety in teens currently as well as rates of depression and other mental health challenges. As someone whose life’s work has become about supporting teens and their parents, this is something that I find quite concerning.
Parents seem concerned about this situation as well, particularly the ones I talk to and work with at our office. While I appreciate their concern and suggestions that their children need more “coping skills,” I would argue that they need much much more than that. Our teens need a world where it is expected and understood that they will mess up sometimes. Parents are often in my office trying to figure out how to direct their children, or discipline them, into making only the right choices without realizing that it is normal for all of us to screw up sometimes. Mistakes are where the learning is, particularly for teens who often learn best by doing rather than thinking.
I suggest that we as a culture, and in our families, learn to embrace and celebrate mistakes and challenges that come up. The more we can encourage our children to take big risks and leaps, even if they might miss the mark, the better. This allows them to get hands on learning about how to handle disappointment, failure, and errors of their own judgment. If our teens and children are buffered from actually experiencing failures or challenge, but they hear all about how their lives could be forever impacted by mistakes or “wrong” choices in high school, this only sets the stage for a lifetime of fearing failure and experiencing anxiety. We need to communicate to them that it is okay to struggle and to fail as well as to make the wrong choices. While we will still hold them accountable for their choices, we can also love and support them through the process of repairing mistakes and relationships. This real life learning about our own humanity is much more valuable than any concrete list of coping skills I can provide.
If you would like to talk more about parenting your teen with a Thrive therapist, contact us today! We love talking about how to reduce feelings of fear and anxiety around parenting.
At Thrive, we take a positive, client centered approach to therapy that is focused on creating a genuine connection with our clients. If you would like to talk with a Thrive Therapist about yourself, your child, or teen attending therapy, please reach out to us by phone at 858-342-1304.
As always, thanks for reading and comments are always welcome regarding any issues around child or teen psychotherapy services in San Diego by Thrive Therapy Studio.
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"Watch your thoughts,
They become words.
Watch your words,
They become actions.
Watch your actions,
They become habits.
Watch your habits,
They become character;
It becomes your destiny."