Teens want to know you care even if they act like you are invisible most of the time. I’m Mr. Q. and I’ve worked with hundreds of teens and adolescents. I can attest that young people will typically keep things to themselves when things are not going well. Even when asked directly they say they are doing good or fine. One example is when I asked a student how he was doing and he very convincingly said, “Fine”. I happened to know he knew he was about to be expelled and had nowhere to go. He wasn’t fine at all. So, if you are a parent or a friend to a teen or adolescent, please follow your intuition. If it seems like something is not right or not going well, keep talking to them. Let them know you care and are concerned. They may be fine, but don’t stop there. Dig a little deeper.
Stating what you notice about them helps. Point out if they are quieter, less involved, having sudden anger outbursts, tearful and so on. Ask in a concerned, not judgmental, way. “I notice you are tearful.” is received much differently than, “Why are you crying?”. Even though they don’t feel like talking, let them know you noticed, are always there to listen, and are concerned, available and want to help.
The balance between annoying and caring is tricky. It helps to build the positive communication bridge between you and your teen or adolescent before there are signs of trouble. Tell them the good things about them you notice often and always. “Hey, I heard from the school you are doing well!”. If you get an eye-roll, you know they heard you and it counts. Don’t be judgemental about the eye-roll. Be genuine in your response. No butterflies and rainbows comments. Keep it real. Everyone likes to hear when they are doing well even if they react modestly. The key is to give as many positives as you can so when something goes badly they are used to hearing from you.
Still have questions or concerns? Give me a call and let’s talk.