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At Sanctuary, we help distressed teens (and their parents)

When your children are babies, you look into their cribs and think how every sweet and innocent they are. They coo, and sometimes cry, and you think they will always tug at your heartstrings.

When they’re teens, you sometimes wonder what happened.

Where did the sweet, innocent child go?

It’s common for teens and parents to be stressed, distressed and frustrated, both with life and with each other.

We can help.

We offer individual therapy for teens (or parents!) as well as family therapy for the whole family. We love to bring greater connection to families and help them find solutions for the various issues that sometimes come between teens and their parents. Instead of discord, your home can be filled with peace.

This is the second in our series of blogs based on our new motto, At Sanctuary Christian Counseling we help grieving individuals, distressed teens and couples in conflict find peace, solutions and connection.

It’s normal for teens to push boundaries, try to assert independence and clam up when parents try to talk. It often isn’t easy for parents to navigate the treacherous waters of their loved kids’ teenage years. But we at Sanctuary are experts in helping families reconnect, find joy and peace with each other and solve communications and generational problems.

We help distressed teens.

Even before therapy, here are some things that can help parent/teen relations:

  • Remind yourself this is mostly a phase, and the teen outgrow it.

  • Listen. Sometimes questions are ok, but listening is much more effective. Keep your ears – and heart – open to hear what your teen really is saying. Teens are more likely to share if they don’t feel they’ll get the third degree every time they talk to their parent.

  • Validate feelings. Don’t try to solve all their problems, or minimize them, either. Instead, sympathize. Agreeing something was tough is easy and will pay dividends in getting your teen to communicate more. “That sounds rough,” or “Wow. That’s hard!” are good phrases to try.

  • Bring them into the “rules” process. Hold a family meeting to go over rules the parents have already agreed upon, and ask for input. What do they think of the rules? What consequences would they set? You will be surprised. In many cases the teen would be harsher than the parents!

  • Try to avoid being a dictator – even a benign one. Help them understand why you think the rules you chose are important and what you think is wrong with what you outlawed.

  • Don’t stop expecting them to be part of the family. Whether it’s sitting down to eat together, going on family vacations or doing other activities with parents and siblings, teens should be encouraged to continue to interact with everyone. Don’t use these occasions to drill them for information! Just have a good time together as a family. Let conversations flow naturally.

  • Remember to encourage and praise them. Don’t stop just because they’re teens. They need to be built up (within reason), too. They may act like they don’t care, but they really do want approval, just like all of us.

  • Watch yourself. If you are always flying off the handle at the slightest provocation, it’s likely your teens (and your younger kids, too) will do so as well. Control your emotions and model how to handle tough ones. Don’t respond in anger to your teen – either take a time out or take a few deep breaths before you lose your cool and they will learn a valuable life lesson.

  • Pay attention. On our page “Solutions for distressed teens” on this website, we have a list of symptoms that may signify a deeper issue with your child. Keep your eyes open to notice changes in appetite, sleep, energy level, mood, behavior … if they stop enjoying things they previously liked … stop seeing friends … hurt themselves or anyone/anything else purposely … use substances … have suicidal thoughts or actions, among others. Get them help to cope with these unexpected and unwelcome changes.

When you need solutions for your parenting issues with teens (or younger kids) or a listening ear to help you work it all out, we are here to help. We are experts at helping distressed teens. Let us help you and your family!

Sanctuary Christian Counseling

9974 Molly Pitcher Highway, Suite 4

Shippensburg, PA 17257


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