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Thank You Teenagers

Sometimes you teach me. You have been incredible throughout quarantine. Teenagers, you’ve been honest with your disappointment, loneliness and sadness, but you’ve also been amazingly resilient. Every one of you I’ve seen in therapy in the last two months have expressed reasons you’re thankful. You’ve all been thoughtful and you have all tolerated this with less complaining than the adults I know!

Helping teens grow and families improve connection,
Lauren Goodman, MS, MFT

COVID-19: Don’t Languish or Be Anxious

“I can’t stand this anymore! I’m bored and I’m anxious. When will it end?” One of my clients was lamenting to me yesterday about living through this COVID-19 crisis. His feelings pretty much sum up all our sentiments. Because we all wish for a sense of control, and some of us are languishing on our couches without routine, here’s a quick video that might help a little.

Helping teens grow and families improve connection,
Lauren Goodman, MS, MFT

Teaching Teens to be Thankful

Teaching your teenagers to be thankful helps in for the rest of their lives. Image courtesy of freedigitalphotos.net

Teaching your teenagers to be thankful helps in for the rest of their lives.
Image courtesy of freedigitalphotos.net

Considering we’re all stuck at home during this COVID-19 crisis, posting about thankfulness feels important.  Without thankfulness each of us will spend our time wishing for things to be normal.  Since this day only happens once, there’s no sense in focusing on what you don’t have.  Gratitude is one of the best ways to feel happy, have others love being around you, and enjoy your life.  If you can teach your children how to feel grateful, they will enjoy their days far more than someone who is entitled.

 

The first thing you must do is teach them to work.  Teenagers who understand that work equals getting things they want/need actually have much higher self-esteem.  It seems backwards.  It’s easy to understand how a lot of parents believe if their teenager is provided every opportunity that they as parents had to struggle for, their teenagers will go father than them in life.  It’s a baffling experience for a lot of parents when they discover all their good intentions had the reverse effect.  Teenagers who learn that they get a cell phone when they pay a piece of the bill, or have their parents fill their gas tank after they wash mom or dad’s car, are extremely grateful kids.  They don’t assume their parents owe them things just because that’s what other kids have.  Instead, they are overjoyed when their parents do help them out, but also very proud of themselves for earning their way.  During COVID-19 this looks like teens making a significant contribution to the household chores.

 

Concepts are caught, not taught.  You must model gratitude.  If you are someone who complains about your situation all the time, there’s a good chance you make little comments in front of your kids.  On the other hand, if you constantly mention the ways you know you’re blessed, your children learn to be thankful in all things.  For example, let’s say you’re struggling with money.  You could complain about all the things you don’t have, or worse still, make embittered comments about people you envy.  Or, you could point out the things you do have while also talking about the hope you have for a better future.  Your children will internalize your attitude and live it out.

 

Lastly, don’t compare.  It doesn’t matter who you are, someone has it better than you do.  That’s because exactly ZERO people have a perfect life.  Only God is perfection.  The rest of us are flawed.  When imperfect people work to create a life, there will be imperfections in the results.  Please don’t begrudge this.  It leads to the comparison trap.  We don’t need to be complacent, which means that we’ve stopped striving for better, but we do need to be content.  Content people are happy people; people who compare are miserable.

 

My hope is that you have a thankful attitude even through COVID-19.  I also hope you use this time to teach your kids how to be grateful in everything they go through in life.  Be very clear that as Pastor Rick Warren would say, nobody should be thankful FOR all things (You don’t need to be thankful for cancer).  However, you do need to be thankful IN all things because there is always a blessing, not matter how small.

 

Helping teens grow and families improve connection,
Lauren Goodman, MS, MFT

Dealing with Depression During COVID-19

Having a diagnosis of depression is hard enough. One of the most important things to combating depression is getting out of the house. This includes socializing and engaging with others in mutual activity. During the coronavirus outbreak this is impossible for most of us. Here are some simple tips if you are currently dealing with depression.

Helping teens grow and families improve connection,
Lauren Goodman, MS, MFT

Anxiety Management in the Midst of Coronavirus

Right now it feels like there is mild mass panic. Everyone seems on edge and some people are outright terrified. There is a run on essential supplies like toilet paper and on sanitization supplies. I’m all for being prepared, but I don’t want you or your children to feel truly panicked. The problem with panicking is that you are reacting emotionally as though the worst is already coming true, which ruins your day. I want you to have an amazing day today, not a scary one!

Helping teens grow and families improve connection,
Lauren Goodman, MS, MFT

Violence in Teen Dating Relationships

Violence in teen dating relationships is more common than you might think. Image Credit: David Castillo Dominici at freedigitalphotos.net

Violence in teen dating relationships is more common than you might think.
Image Credit: David Castillo Dominici at freedigitalphotos.net

It’s scary, but true.  On occasion a teenager gets into a violent dating relationship.  We all tell our kids that if anyone ever lays a hand on them, the relationship should instantly be over.  However, teens are susceptible to the belief that someone can change.

 

Recently I worked with a client who consistently dealt with this very issue.  After a few instances of telling me that he promised he’d be different, and then breaking that promise, she finally ended it.  However, she continued to “protect” him even after things were over.  She felt so ashamed that she had let things go on like that, that she still didn’t want to tell her parents he had been hurting her.  She also didn’t want them to hate him.

 

It’s really easy to judge someone who gets into this situation.  It’s easy to assume your son or daughter would never fall prey to abuse in a dating relationship.  However, that’s a misunderstanding of how this situation arises.

 

Abuse doesn’t usually occur out of the blue.  It starts with your teenager dating someone who is intensely interested in him or her.  They want to spend tons and tons of time together.  After a little while it becomes apparent that your teen’s boy/girlfriend gets pouty or angry when your child wants to see their friends.  Before you know it, your teenager doesn’t see their friends anymore.  Then you notice your teen has a lot of arguments with their significant other.  The boy/girlfriend is quick to apologize, but has said some harsh things first.  Most of the time your teen seems happy in the relationship, but when they argue, it’s extremely intense.  That’s when the abuse starts.  Both the abuser and the victim seem surprised the first time it happens.  They both agree it will never, ever happen again.  Things are great afterward so your teenager actually believes this, despite everything you’ve ever mentioned to them about abuse in a relationship.  Besides, they’ve lost contact with all their friends, so they fall victim to the lie that they would be completely alone without this other person.

 

You and I both know without this other person they would re-establish their friendships, feel less anxiety, become social again, and overall feel a lot happier.  It’s pretty challenging to convince your teenager of this though.

 

As Mom or Dad you can help your teenager stay aware that relationship violence does occur in teen dating relationships.  You can stay very on top of their relationship.  Strongly encourage your child to maintain their friendships as well, and do a lot of their dating in groups.  Watch their moods.  If they are morose sometimes it’s worth checking to see if it’s related to their dating relationship.  If you see your teenager isolating from you, that is also cause for concern.  Also, if you notice bruises on your teenager, this is major cause for concern.  Adolescents do get bruises in sports, from running into things, etc., but consistent bruising is a huge red flag.

 

Being a parent is scary sometimes, and incredibly challenging.  I don’t mean to give you one other thing to worry about, but I do want you to have an awareness that abusive teen dating relationships exist.

 

Helping teens grow and families improve connection,

Lauren Goodman, MS, MFT