Kristin's Comfy Couch Family Counseling Kristin Perry, LMFT
Kristin's Comfy Couch Family CounselingKristin Perry, LMFT
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Top Ten Signs Your Teen is in Trouble It can be terrifying when you see a sudden change in your teen and don't know what to make of it. Sometimes, you may wonder: "What's normal?" "Am I making too much of this?" "Does she just want attention?" "Am I really the only parent who has a problem with this?" "Am I too hard on him?"The fact that you're asking these questions shows excellent parenting radar and a real concern for your child. While this list is not exhaustive, it's a solid start. It captures many of the problems I see come up in teen therapy. If any of the things listed below are happening with your kid, you're not making too much of it. It isn't about attention. You're right to be worried. Your child needs help, right away!Top Ten Signs Your Teen is in Trouble:1. Sudden negative change in peer group, friends they are not willing to introduce2. Social Isolation3. Bullying: either being the perpetrator or the victim of abuse is a concern and requires help.4. Self-harm: cutting, picking, burning, self-starvation, or high risk sexual behavior. If you notice a sudden dramatic weight loss, see any unexplained marks or scars, or if your child suddenly starts wearing long sleeves or more concealing clothing, look more closely. Ask questions. Get help!5. Any break-up with a best friend or first love that is being taken particularly hard: excessive crying, expressing feelings of hopelessness, or obsessive thinking, talking, or social media mentions about the loss are significant signs there's a problem.6. Substance abuse7. Falling or failing grades8. Dramatic change in appearance or lack of interest in basic grooming, extreme irritability or aggression, crying, expressing feelings of numbness and disconnection, change in appetite, or sleep pattern are all signs of DEPRESSION, and should be taken seriously.9. Lying or secretive behavior10. Expressing ANY thoughts of suicide: verbally, by gesture, or in writing The need for help is URGENT: if your teenager has a specific plan for how to commit suicide, access to the means of self-harm they describe, or an expression of intent to actually do it.If your kid starts giving away emotionally significant items, seem to be trying to tie up loose ends, or say "goodbye" to anyone, these are also RED FLAGS. If you see this behavior. or you have any doubts, get help immediately. Go to your nearest emergency room, call 911, or call the police Psychological Emergency Response Team (PERT). It's okay to err on the side of caution. In fact, it's a really good idea to call, if you have any doubt at all.Teenagers can get in over their heads really fast. It's alarming how quickly they can get into real trouble. They are more impulsive, while being less able to think long-range and problem solve, than adults. Teens can suffer from anxiety disorders, depression, addiction and serious anger management problems, just like adults. When this happens, teens really need help. If you're a parent and this is happening with your child, you probably need some help, too. These are complicated scary problems. It's important to have a person with professional psychological training assist you. There's a lot at stake. Things can get better, with the right guidance.Please, act quickly, if you notice any of the Top Ten Signs Your Teen is in Trouble. If you aren't sure, or have any questions, you can call me: Kristin Perry, MFT at: 760-978-6071. If you can't reach me and think it might be serious, please, call 911.A little rebellion is normal teenage stuff. A little moodiness is normal teen emotion. Being kinda bratty is normal teenager behavior. Raising a teen is tricky. An adolescent's process of becoming independent can be quite hard on everyone concerned. They're a little bit prickly, sometimes. Counseling can help with these normal developmental issues, too. Teen therapy can improve family relationships, communication and coping skills. Counseling can help get things back on the right track. It can also save your kid's life.Whatever your particular situation, I wish you much luck, love and peace as you care for your family.Take care!Kristin Perry, MFTKristin's Comfy Couch Family Counseling760-978-6071
While we navigate the coronavirus outbreak and grapple with our own reactions and fears, we also have to address our children's needs. This requires more than just the basics, like managing their time, finding indoor activities, and offering reassurance. Children need direct, clear, and meaningful guidance, in line with their developmental level and their capacity to digest complex and emotionally charged information. Gifted children, in particular, may have a difficult time during this crisis, especially those who are highly sensitive, obsessive overthinkers, or who struggle with existential depression. The following are basic guidelines for providing realistic and attuned support: 1. First, ask them  Don't assume that you know what your children are thinking or feeling. Ask them instead. You may be surprised by how calm or anxious or informed or oblivious they are. Notice their behavior - whether they seem relaxed, fearful, angry or seem to be holding back. Tailor any responses to their emotional tone. For example, if they are distraught, match that with calming reassurance rather than logical explanations that won't register. If they seem calm, but complain about missing their friends, offer sympathy, but remain firm about the rationale for distancing, and suggest alternative coping strategies. They also might have clarity about some aspects of the crisis, but harbor misconceptions and out-of-proportion fears that need to be challenged. And don't just ask "are you okay?' and accept a nod as a free pass to move on. You still need to address the crisis. Not easy - but necessary. 2. Keep your child's developmental level in mind Your child's age, developmental level and ability to process information should direct how you convey information. What you explain to a four-year-old is quite different from how you discuss the crisis with an adolescent. Remaining attuned to your child's needs and providing developmentally appropriate support is one of the toughest challenges parents face. Young children benefit from simple, clear, reassuring statements, devoid of too much detail. Older gifted children welcome a more complex dialogue, as logic and reason can sometimes provide as much support as your reassurances. Teens will appreciate your openness and clarity. You can acknowledge their fears and uncertainty (and some of your own), but also remind them that you will do what you can to protect them. 3. Be honest, but don't overshare.  Gifted children, in particular, are masters at spotting deception. Don't lie to them in an attempt to offer reassurance. If you are worried or have financial burdens, it is okay to let them know. Just reassure them that despite your worries, you will get through this, and will try to keep them safe. You certainly can share that you also miss your friends and don't like feeling cooped up in the house. But don't lean on your children for emotional support. They don't need to know the depths of your fears or the details of your finances - it may frighten them, and they might assume that sharing their distress with you would be an additional burden. Instead, reach out to your spouse, partner, family or friends. 4. This is a teachable moment  This crisis provides an opportunity to share your values and ideals to your children. How you handle your emotions, behavior, and decisions - from managing your own fears and frustration, to whether you hoard every paper product you can find - will be conveyed to them. When you take action, help others, pace yourself, avoid too much immersion in news and social media, and find time each day for exercise, relaxation and productive efforts, you also model these behaviors for your children. It is also beneficial to help them find some meaningful outlet where they can feel productive and empowered. For example, families in our community are enlisting children to sew face masks, and high school students are delivering groceries. You don't have to be perfect. Your children will understand and accept your tears or moments of irritability. But you are their role model, and years from now, they will remember how you as a family endured through this difficult time. 5. Pay attention to mental health issues Despite your best efforts, some children may succumb to the pressure of this crisis. This crisis is tough on everyone, and a child's psyche may suffer. Your children may worry about a family member's health, or fear for themselves, or feel lost without their friends. Fear, anxiety, and depression may arise. Teens with pre-existing drug or alcohol problems or eating disorders, for example, may experience an increase in symptoms. If you notice any new or increased signs of distress, such as changes in sleep or appetite, increased tearfulness, acting out behaviors, self-harm, or expressions of fear, hopelessness or suicidal thoughts, it is essential that you contact a licensed mental health professional. Wishing you safe passage through this challenging time. Some additional Gifted Challenges articles related to weathering a crisis: Brave new compassionate world Help your gifted child make sense of the recent news How addressing recent hate crimes is relevant to gifted education Helping your gifted child in the aftermath of Charlottesville This blog is part of Hoagie's Gifted Blog Hop on Giftedness in Times of Crisis. To see more blogs, click on this link. A similar article was published on Medium
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