Teenagers today need support. In a world that is constantly changing, pushing, and pressuring, it is crucial to their development to support, encourage, and equip them as they navigate their journey to adulthood. Counseling for teens is one way you can support your teenager and help them through these challenging years.
Reasons to Pursue Counseling for Teens
Counseling for teens is a good way to support your teenager through difficult and changing times. If he or she has any of these thoughts or experiences, your teen may benefit from receiving counseling:
- His best friend moved hundreds of miles away because the family received military orders.
- She was rejected from the college that took center stage on her childhood dreams.
- Her close-knit group of friends suddenly decided you are no longer suited for their group and left her to sit by herself in the cafeteria out of the blue.
- He was taunted because he told some of his friends that he is a Christian.
- She was mocked because she chose abstinence over an invitation from a popular kid in high school.
- He was labeled weird or lame because he said no to drugs and alcohol when the rest of his class was experimenting.
- Peers made fun of her because she chose to attend Sunday church services and opted to miss a big party or event to be there.
- She found out that her best friend caved to temptation and is now pregnant and uncertain of who to turn to for help.
- He was chosen last for kickball every single time because he was heavier than the rest of the class.
- She feels the heaviness and sadness of depression but feeling the need to keep quiet because you’re afraid your parents will be disappointed.
- She feels the need to keep her struggles with self-harm or eating disorders a secret because she is worried about adding any additional stressors to her already-struggling parent’s plate.
- Wavering and uncertain plans.
- Peer pressure.
- Cliques and spiraling social circles.
- Social media.
- Academic rigor.
- Competitive athletics.
- The building and beginning of financial independence.
- First jobs and career decisions.
- Figuring out dating and relationships.
- The foundation of decisions that will impact the beginning of adulthood.
Since teens face these problems and more, it’s essential to get them the mental, emotional, and spiritual help as soon as possible.
Supporting Your Teenager
As you help your teen navigate this ever-changing world with many stressors, it is important to consider these steps:
1. Equip your teen with the full armor of God.
Prioritize your faith and let your teen see that it’s important to you. Read and discuss Scripture. Attend church services and encourage critical thinking. Initiate family discussions about faith. Pray for, with, and over your teen.
Encourage your teen to run to Scripture for answers instead of just accepting what society says. Review Ephesians 6:10-18 with your teen, which speaks about spiritual armor. This armor is what will help them cope, make decisions, stand firm in their faith, and have true peace.
2. Let your teen know you are ready to listen.
When your teen is pressured to try drugs and alcohol, have sex, take the easy way out, or give up, he or she needs you to be ready to listen. When he is made fun of because he doesn’t cuss or party or has his heart broken by his first crush, you need to listen. While there is a time to discipline and instruct, the first step is to listen.If you can really open your heart and ears to listen what your teen has to say, it will build a foundation of trust and love where everything else can easily follow. When your teen is feeling the temptations of the world, he or she need a support system ready to listen, instruct, pray for, and support them – and that includes you.
3. Always look for creative ways to connect and show you’re on your teen’s team.
Leave encouraging notes and their favorite snack on his or her car seat for when he or she is headed out for a night shift at work. Throw a sports drink and encouraging note in his or her sports bag as he or she heads to a two-hour practice. Be creative in your approach to asking your teen about the details of his or her life so he or she will be more eager to pour out their heart and soul to you.
Support your teen’s dreams and ask about his or her friendship circles, who he or she likes and about his or her future plans. Ask, “How can I support you right now?” and “How can I pray for you?”
4. Teach your teen to be kind.
In a world that is so self-focused, you can still teach your teen to be kind. Show your teen kindness and involve him or her in helping others. Display random acts of kindness to your teen and make serving others a priority.
Show grace and offer compassion to your teen. Let your light shine even when the world wants to dim your joy and passion. Raise your teen to choose the right thing over the popular thing. While you can’t make the decisions for your teen, you can model kindness, talk about it, and praise your teen when he or she does the right thing.
5. Be vulnerable with your teen.
Admit when you’ve messed up. Ask for your teen’s forgiveness after you raise your voice. Lead by example in working hard at relationships and asking for help. Follow the advice in this quote by an unknown speaker: “The best way to point your children to Christ is by living a life that exemplifies Him.”
6. Be sure you aren’t setting unrealistic expectations for your teen.
While we want our teens to succeed and always give their best, sometimes we push perfection on our them without realizing it. Giving their best should be the goal, but not perfection. If they receive B’s instead of all A’s on their report card, then applause and encouragement are in order. Unrealistic expectations can weigh heavily on anyone, especially teens who are trying to navigate a balance as they prepare for adulthood.
7. Know that counseling can and should be utilized even before red flags appear.
Test anxiety, social anxiety, heartbreak, childhood trauma, and future planning are examples of the wide range of issues that can be addressed in counseling. Eating disorders, self-harm, drugs and alcohol, and friendship problems can all be addressed in counseling. Teens have experiences unique to their personalities and struggles and talking about them with a counselor can help them overcome. Counseling for teens does not have to be a last resort – it can be a first step.
The best thing you can offer your teen isn’t the most expensive prom dress on the rack or a car that will turn heads when they pull into the school parking lot. Instead, the best thing you can offer your teen is support, prayer, and the foundation of faith.
Support can mean tough love one day and grace the next. It can mean letting them attend counseling for teens on their own or asking if they’d like you to come with them. Support can be check-ins when you allow them to stay at a friend’s house or saying no when you know the situation isn’t the best. Pray, ask for guidance, plead for discernment, and let God lead the way.
Don’t hesitate in scheduling a Christian counseling session for you, your teen, or both — we want to help you navigate the twists and turns of supporting and nurturing your teen. Get in touch with a counselor today to learn how to support your teenager through difficult and changing times.
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