For kids and teens that are struggling, communication isn’t always their strong point, and behavioral acting out tends to be the way things often play out. My goal is always to self-direct clients and help them to better understand who they are, and who they want to be, as well as collaborate with families in deciding the right path to getting there. A current disconnect is a frustrating experience, and the origins to how this came about, differ for all of you. For most of you, there was a real closeness that developed throughout their earlier years, and a bond that felt unshakeable. They opened up about their friends, their self-doubt, school, and even the person they liked. There were some problems, but nothing out of the ordinary, or that felt insurmountable. You always felt like the gateway of communication was there, so if you worked together, you’d solve it. It even worked most of the time, which is what makes this current distance so hard and confusing.
When communication does not come out verbally, we often see it behaviorally in kids, which at times can mimic common ADHD symptoms in younger children, or in substance use and withdrawal with teens Sometimes its compliance, or sometimes its avoidance, but when kids feel like they have a voice, they tend to curb the very behaviors that usually led to the presenting problem. There are so many transitions, including school changes, losses of family members, changes in family structure, divorce, changes in routine or family finances. When these environmental things are added to the constant flow of expectations coming from peers or possibly romantic interests, it can overwhelm anyone, and that’s normal. It’s my goal to help kids make sense of their world, who they are, and why things impact them the way they do. Knowing these things develops insight and the ability to self-correct on the things that are not helpful, and either push support away or take them further from their goals.
For most of us, anger and sadness are difficult emotions for us to tolerate, but it becomes more difficult when the sources of these feelings are the people we love and need the most, preventing us from sharing out of a need to protect our parents, or false perception on how they might react. I’ve been working with kids and teens for the last 10 years in various settings, including collaboration with Los Angeles Unified School District. Over this time, I’ve provided therapy, consultation, and assisted families in addressing concerns related to:
3. Behavioral acting out
5. Poor social skills
6. Poor communication
7. Substance Abuse
9. Poor peer influence
10. Difficulty in utilizing support
11. Academic concerns
Providing teens and kids with a safe space to express themselves and explore their own values can help them to develop the insight to understand what they want, and the best ways to make these things happen. Understanding their big picture, can lead to better choices that take them towards their goals, while mindfully avoiding the pitfalls that take them further away.