Parents: What does my teen daughter need from me?

woman kissing cheek of girl wearing red and black polka dot top

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Written by: Janine Canaday, LPC, LCPC

The good ole “teenage struggle” is often a very challenging period of life. She often wonders, “Am I pretty enough?” “Will they like me?” “Who will understand me?” There is peer pressure to engage in risky behavior or to look a certain way. Social media, magazines and movies can present “perfect” like images to our young ladies of what is considered to be socially acceptable for body weight, fashion, electronics and so forth. Daily, she is bombarded with strong and impressionable words from her environment that try to define her self worth.

It is Overwhelming.

The world around her is so influential therefore, it is vital for parents to play an integral role in supporting the needs of their teen. Most parents mean well and try to offer advice to their teens on how they were able to manage themselves during those years. You have heard it before. “I was once your age.” “I know what you are going through.” Yes. But, those words do not resonate well with teens. The reality is, teens do not want your advice. They want your love, care, respect and attention.

Here are 5 quick and helpful tips in making sure that you are staying connected to your teen in a meaningful and effective way:

1. Be Present: When you are engaging with your teen, provide her with your undivided and uninterrupted attention. Put your phone and computer down. Make eye contact. Let her know that you are showing up for her physically, emotionally and mentally. This offers her a sense of security, confidence and self-worth.

2. Listen: Teens will often open up more if they feel like they are being heard. Refrain from overreacting, interrupting her as she speaks or over-talking her. She will shut down emotionally and close you out of her world. Instead, stay calm, have open posture, reaffirm that you heard her through non-verbal gestures and facial expressions. This fosters a deeper level of trust and communication.

3. Guidance over advice: Allow her time to navigate her thoughts on how to handle tough situations by talking it out. Ask open ended questions to facilitate healthy dialog. Foster effective communication and guidance through family activities, game night and dinner table discussions. Teens tend to be more receptive when they feel you are helping them through the process of making good choices instead of just telling them how you think they should do it.

4. Provide Structure: Believe it or not, teens want structure. Rules provide a level of stability and predictability. They desire to feel valued, want to contribute to the family structure and have responsibility.

5. Show Empathy: Be understanding of her developing sense of autonomy, independence and desire for personal space. Still set boundaries. Encourage her to consider the perspective of others and to see how her choices can not only affect her, but also impact those around her. This helps her to be more loving and caring towards herself and others.

If you are experiencing any challenges with helping your teen manage herself and the world around her, please have her join a safe space with other teen girls where she can engage in a collective dialogue about the “teenage struggle.” Register for this 6 week group starting in February!!

If you or your teen need additional support to help you navigate challenges with depression, anxiety, low self-esteem, work-life balance or trauma, please contact my office today to schedule an appointment!

Why Goal Setting is Essential for Your Mental Health

Goal Setting 2018

Author: Janine Canaday, LPC, LCPC

What happened to 2018? Just like that…..it has come to an end. The wins and losses throughout the year are in the books. For some, big decisions were made, lives were improved and the year finished out stronger than where they started. For others, the year may have left them feeling hurt, confused or defeated. How did you finish? It is important to take time to reflect on what goals were accomplished and which goals were neglected. The new year usually represents “new beginnings” and is a way to create a fresh start. Hitting the reset button is one way to jumpstart a new and exciting journey of mental health and wellness.

The Secret Sauce

Have you ever wondered why some people seem to be more productive and appear to be hitting the ball out of the park with their goals? What is the secret? What we know to be true about setting goals is that it provides a sense of direction and purpose. Clearly defined goals are a proven source of motivation and guide the decisions or choices that we make in life. They usually represent a window into what we value most in life and where we want to spend most of our time or energy. When you feel more certain about what you want to do in life, the experiences you want to have and the places you want to go, your overall mood is elevated. You will start to feel a sense of achievement, validation for your purpose, and meaning towards your life’s mission. Belief in yourself will get stronger and confidence in your ability to accomplish anything will reach new heights. You will start to see yourself and your potential in ways that maybe you never once imagined. This is the power of setting goals.

The 5 Step System

You cannot just stop there. Having a powerful system in place will exponentially increase your chances of success with your goals. Antoine de Saint-Exupery once said, “A goal without a plan is just a wish.” While dreaming is a great way to visualize the end result that you want to achieve, your goal will stay a dream if you do not prepare a plan. Develop a plan for each goal that you identify. Be very clear and specific on the steps that you will need to take to execute each plan. Prioritize your goals by identifying which goals require more immediate attention than others. Develop a timeline in which you will accomplish each goal and corresponding steps of the plan to hold yourself accountable. When you start winning at completing the small steps of your plan, you will feel more motivated to keep going. Take a moment to celebrate the small victories. The motivation can have a positive ripple effect in all areas of your life including your goals set for career, health, family, leisure time, finances, education, relationships, spiritual development and much more. Remember these 5 important steps to help improve your overall mental health and wellness for 2019:

1. Visualize Where You See Yourself in the Future
2. Write Down a List of Clear and Specific Goals Based on What You Visualized
3. Create A Plan for Each Goal
4. Prioritize Your Goals to Build a Timeline
5. Take Action!

Be intentional about taking action. Be clear and specific about your goals and plan. Define a timeline to maintain accountability. Be consistent. When your goals are too vague and not clearly defined, you may find yourself experiencing frustration, anxiety or sadness as a result of not being able to achieve them in the way that you desire.

Scientific research tells us that when you set attainable goals and reach them, your mind releases the “feel good” neurotransmitter called dopamine. Boost your dopamine levels by simply checking off or crossing through each goal that you complete. Not only will your mental health be impacted in a positive way, but you will start to see growth and development in other areas enhancing your overall quality of life. Goal setting is a necessary part of life!

Are you ready to start 2019 off strong?

If you find yourself experiencing challenges with managing day to day life and/or struggling with symptoms of depression, anxiety or low-esteem, please contact me today for support.

Schedule An Appointment!