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

When I launched this blog in January 2013, I never imagined it would last. Ten years ago, my youngest child was approaching high school graduation, and my involvement as co-chair of a gifted parents advocacy group was winding down. Yet, my interest in advocating for the gifted extended beyond my own experience with my children's education. I found that writing - through this blog and other platforms - provided an outlet for advocating, sharing information, and expressing my concerns. Rather than a personal blog or one describing my children's trajectory, Gifted Challenges became a vehicle for confronting misperceptions about giftedness, voicing my opinions, and disseminating and sometimes critiquing information found online. 

What has changed in ten years?

Over these past ten years, there has been some gradual progress in how the gifted are perceived and how gifted education is implemented. We have seen an explosion of awareness about neurodiversity, twice-exceptionalities, and the social/emotional needs of the gifted. Many in the field have championed the necessity of universal screening for giftedness, identifying gifted Black, Hispanic, Indigenous, inner city, and rural children who are often ignored, addressing the excellence gap, and acquiring accurate diagnoses of conditions such as autism, ADHD, or sensory processing disorders. Adults who previously doubted their own giftedness are learning to acknowledge their strengths and parents of the gifted are admitting to the stressors and worries so unique to their family dynamics. Given the variety of new platforms, such as webinars and podcasts that disseminate information and opinions directly to the consumer, it would seem that finally, more information is readily available regarding life as gifted.

Nevertheless, much remains the same in gifted world. Legal mandates safeguarding gifted education are non-existent in many US States. Even within those States where gifted accommodations are mandated, service delivery is often haphazard and limited. Antiquated views of flexible ability grouping, acceleration, or the social/emotional needs of gifted children persist. The G-word remains misunderstood; rather than acknowledging that "gifted" is a diagnostic label, the term is a projection screen for misinterpretation and stereotyping. Claims pronouncing that everyone is gifted or that giftedness is a choice, or that it is an elitist construct are the subject of endless online debates and discourse within just about every school community. Yet, this imperfect "gifted" label is what we have (and are stuck with) right now, and it is up to us as parents, educators, and other professionals to educate the public about this diagnostic term.

Of course, the world at large has confronted us with many disturbing events - with negative effects on our sensitive gifted children's well-being (and our own). The Pandemic has altered us in fundamental ways not even yet fully appreciated. Politics and social media have become divisive and inflammatory; our right to free speech is all too frequently co-opted with misinformation, lies, and hateful commentary. Gun violence is rampant in many impoverished neighborhoods and now surpasses motor vehicle accidents as the leading cause of death among children. Students routinely practice active shooter drills, with the disturbing awareness that mass shootings can happen anywhere. Books are banned. Threats related to climate change affect us all. And a culture of anti-intellectualism and anti-science has flourished. Anxiety, disenfranchisement, and a distorted embrace of rugged individualism (fueled by the anonymity of social media and supported by some public figures) have amplified pre-existing elements of bigotry, racism, antisemitism, genderphobia, and anti-immigrant sentiment.

Despite these challenges, there is cause for hope! 

Although we cannot fully shield our children and teens from widely disseminated information (sometimes hastening an unwelcome level of pseudo-maturity), their increased awareness of the world around them also engenders greater wisdom and maturity. This explosion in knowledge can be a positive influence if we guide them, answer their questions, and instill values that frame and support healthy attitudes.  Many young people possess an astounding level of optimism and wisdom as they combat social, political, and environmental challenges. Gifted children, in particular, have the potential to impact the future; their empathy, passion for social justice, and keen sense of logic can help transform the world as we know it. If we can supply them with an emotionally secure, socially supportive, and academically challenging childhood, our gifted children will flourish.

On a personal note

I don't usually broadcast my personal life in this blog, but will share a few of the changes I have experienced over the past ten years. I have witnessed my children's initial launch toward college - and then, their second launch as they pursued graduate education and engaging careers. I continue to work as a clinical psychologist, and now have options for providing telehealth in over 30 US States due to PSYPACT legislation. I have expanded my psychotherapy practice to include workshops for parents and schools, and consultation/coaching for adults and parents of gifted children. Although coaching is a bit more relaxed and straightforward than psychotherapy, my training and experience as a psychotherapist are still an essential part of this process. 

Creating and nurturing this blog has been an unanticipated joy. I have learned a lot, met some amazing fellow parents and colleagues in the gifted and twice-exceptional field, and honed my writing skills. I get to advocate for gifted kids and adults through this blog; what an incredible privilege and opportunity! It sounds pretty nerdy, but this sure has been a lot of fun! While I have written many articles (some unrelated to giftedness) and several book chapters, I feel quite excited about my new book, The Gifted Parenting Journey, which addresses the emotional lives of parents and provides tools and support as they navigate this complicated parenting process. Parents' needs and emotions have been ignored for much too long. In their search to support and educate their gifted or twice-exceptional children, parents often discount their own experiences. My hope is that this book will offer the validation and support parents of the gifted need - along with a vehicle for encouraging a deeper understanding of their motivations and emotions.

Thank you to all of my readers who have hung in there with me over the years! I am so grateful for your readership and especially appreciative that so many of you responded to the Gifted Parenting Survey I circulated online last year. Some findings from this survey are included in my book, but I am also working on analyzing the data more extensively. I also plan to offer more workshops for parents (if you are interested, send me an email and let me know!). If you have requests for blog post topics, please let me know as well. I wish you well as you traverse your own path as a gifted adult and/or the parent of a gifted child. We still have much work to do as we advocate for all gifted children, with the hope that they receive the intellectual stimulation and social/emotional engagement they desperately need. Please join me in that mission!

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