Are you concerned about your teenager’s skills to attend, manage their emotions and develop solid friendships?
Then this post might be for you!
Parenting an adolescent is a challenging enough time without these additional anxieties.
It’s likely you feel confused and powerless to know how to help.
Have you heard yourself saying: “they’re so smart, I don’t know why they can’t do this, if only they could control their anger, if only they would get off their devices, if only they had more desire to make friends, if only they were more tolerant, if only they would use their diary.”
Naturally, parents are tempted to problem solve. Maybe you plan social opportunities thinking that all your child needs is practice. You repeatedly remind them to look at people when they speak. You create graphic reminders to facilitate routines. And so the list of tried and failed strategies becomes longer.
At PiC we hear the frustration of parents over and over. We teach and facilitate deeper understanding of what it means to be all things ‘social’ for those students whose individual wiring makes it challenging for them to pick up these skills intuitively.
We teach parents to be more emotionally tuned to their teenager, to listen before they start to problem-solve.
The following key points may be useful if you identify with any of the above:
It doesn’t matter at what age a student presents; we need to ensure that our teaching starts at the bottom of the social learning tree – at the roots. We don’t jump in and teach ‘skills’ without our students understanding the ‘why’ behind the skills. Take eye contact for instance. Sure we all feel more listened to, important, recognized etc when someone we are talking to looks at us. However another critical reason for maintaining eye contact is to learn valuable information about your partner and the current social context. You pick up information about their thoughts and feelings from their face, body, voice tone and words and you add this to your understanding of how you are expecting them to behave in that context. You are then able to adjust your responses accordingly.
We mustn’t underestimate the amount of mental and emotional energy that it takes our students to survive a day in the classroom. Many students manage to ‘hold it together’ for the school day only to fall apart at home; becoming non-communicative, non-compliant and emotionally dysregulated. For some students, their sensory systems are worn out from maintaining their equilibrium amongst the bombardment present in the school environment. It’s little wonder that many escape to isolate themselves during break periods. Parents can feel disappointed by their teen’s preference for solo time at home and their low frustration thresholds when asked to participate or to do a chore.
Parents today are lucky they have the benefits of deeper understandings of what is happening at a neurophysiological level in the brain during adolescence. The expansion of ‘wirings’ that is happening is akin to that which is happening for a toddler! These understandings have served to bust many myths of why teenagers are prone to certain behaviours. They don’t love to question the rules just because they can and argue for arguments sake! Their brains are striving to understand their place in the world, to question their identity and to achieve a greater sense of autonomy. This is all part of the necessary development towards adulthood. The release of certain neurotransmitters during this period affect the young person’s sleep cycles and increase their need for engagement in reward-driven and risky behaviours.
PiC is running an information evening for parents and teachers soon, (see link attached). During this evening we will explain the methodology that drives our intervention strategies with clients of all ages, whose brain wiring doesn’t make it easy for them to relate socially and build friendships. Come along if you would like to learn more.