Adolescent Challenges

Adolescence is a time of great change -- physically, emotionally, socially, and intellectually. Working with adolescents in therapy means meeting them where they are as they move through these changes, while helping them develop a stable sense of self against this fluctuating backdrop.

Parents often seek therapy for their adolescents when they sense that the normal challenges of this period, or of the parent-teen relationship dynamics that shift during it, have become too much for either family member to handle.

When talking to your teen directly -- or when talking to your parents -- isn’t working, it’s helpful to engage a therapist to provide an objective ear.

Regardless of what’s causing the problem, there are many things parents can do to help their teen manage this life phase, including:

• Provide predictability, structure, and consistency, so that your child feels you serve as a safe harbor during this tumultuous transition.

• As teens demonstrate greater maturity, give them more responsibility and include them in more decisions that affect their lives.

• Treat discipline more as a learning opportunity than a form of punishment, so teens experience the natural, real-world consequences of their behavior.

• Use supportive encouragement to guide teen’s behavior, rather than conditional, positive rewards or negative reinforcement.  If and when you use rewards, the most valuable ones are those that give a teen greater ownership over their lives and choices.

•Listen attentively to all of your teen’s stories so that, as he or she is faced with more complex peer pressures, they will feel increasingly safe confiding in you about them.



How to Talk So Kids Will Listen

Parents Do Make a Difference

Reviving Ophelia

Teens and Depression

How You Can Survive When They're Depressed

If Your Adolescent Has Depression or Bipolar Disorder

More Than Moody

Recovering from Depression: A Workbook for Teens

The Bipolar Disorder Survival Guide


NYU Child Study Center

Parents Without Partners

National Stepfamily Resource Association


APA:  Teen Guide

NIMH: Child and Adolescent Mental Health

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Adolescent-Parent Dynamics