What can Parents do to help their teen?

Posted by M C on Friday, September 5, 2014 Under: Adolescents
During the Parent Group today, we discussed the importance of VALIDATION in communicating with teens who have emotional sensitivity.  Validation is how we show understanding and empathy towards others, and even if we don't agree with what the other person is saying, we can still show acceptance around their perspective, feelings and desires.  

There are many benefits of validating teenagers.  Validation helps us stay connected and attuned.  If teens get even a whiff of judgment or disapproval from their parents, it shuts them down.  So, even when they are telling us things that alarm us, or that we absolutely do not condone, we can choose to validate the underlying reasons or intentions that make them think they want to do those things.  

Here are the levels of validation: 
  1. Pay attention.  We can validate by simply listening to what they are saying.  Try and notice the urge to jump in and give solutions to what the teen is telling us.  Before ANY problem solving can be done, the teen first needs to be HEARD.  So, show interest and let them talk, and inquire (gently) into what they are thinking/feeling if you're wanting a bit more info into their perspective/experience.
  2. Try to accurately reflect or summarize what the teen is saying ("You're feeling frustrated with your teachers, and don't want to go to school").  Ask if this is correct.
  3. Try and pick up on the emotions the teen is having (if they are not expressing them).  Ask if they are feeling a certain way about the situation.
  4. Validate the person's feelings or behavior given past experiences ("It makes sense you would have anxiety about going to school after having a tough semester last year").
  5. Communicate that the teen's feelings MAKE SENSE, given their temperament and past experiences.  
Bottom line, listen without judging or giving advice, and let them know you understand where they are coming from (put yourself in their shoes for the moment).  THEN, you can move into helping them problem solve ("That sounds difficult. What do you think you are going to do?").  Because validation diffuses emotions, the teen might feel better just after being heard and understood.  Ask them if they would like to brainstorm possible solutions or ideas to deal with the situation, and if they want to, then you can help them come up with some options. 

It's also important for parents to VALIDATE THEMSELVES when dealing with emotionally-charged situations involving the teen.  If parents can take a moment to validate their own emotions and urges, that can help to decrease the intensity. For instance, if your teen is angrily refusing to give you their cell phone at night, even though they know this is the expectation, and the parent gets mad or anxious about the teen's reaction, it can be helpful to first self-validate.  Saying to yourself, "This is frustrating, and it makes sense I would feel this way due to all of the previous conflicts we've had about this" can help to slow your reactivity and help you to be calmer in your approach.  You can then try to validate the teen's anger by saying, "I know this is frustrating to you, and that you'd prefer to keep your phone with you all night, but we've discussed the expectation that the phone needs to be in my room after 11 pm").  

If you're interested in joining the PARENT GROUP on THURSDAYS from 12-1 pm, contact Candace at (512) 680-0425 or by email at austindbt@yahoo.com  



In : Adolescents 


Tags: teens  parents of teenagers  adolescent dbt  dbt teens 

What can Parents do to help their teen?

Posted by M C on Friday, September 5, 2014 Under: Adolescents
During the Parent Group today, we discussed the importance of VALIDATION in communicating with teens who have emotional sensitivity.  Validation is how we show understanding and empathy towards others, and even if we don't agree with what the other person is saying, we can still show acceptance around their perspective, feelings and desires.  

There are many benefits of validating teenagers.  Validation helps us stay connected and attuned.  If teens get even a whiff of judgment or disapproval from their parents, it shuts them down.  So, even when they are telling us things that alarm us, or that we absolutely do not condone, we can choose to validate the underlying reasons or intentions that make them think they want to do those things.  

Here are the levels of validation: 
  1. Pay attention.  We can validate by simply listening to what they are saying.  Try and notice the urge to jump in and give solutions to what the teen is telling us.  Before ANY problem solving can be done, the teen first needs to be HEARD.  So, show interest and let them talk, and inquire (gently) into what they are thinking/feeling if you're wanting a bit more info into their perspective/experience.
  2. Try to accurately reflect or summarize what the teen is saying ("You're feeling frustrated with your teachers, and don't want to go to school").  Ask if this is correct.
  3. Try and pick up on the emotions the teen is having (if they are not expressing them).  Ask if they are feeling a certain way about the situation.
  4. Validate the person's feelings or behavior given past experiences ("It makes sense you would have anxiety about going to school after having a tough semester last year").
  5. Communicate that the teen's feelings MAKE SENSE, given their temperament and past experiences.  
Bottom line, listen without judging or giving advice, and let them know you understand where they are coming from (put yourself in their shoes for the moment).  THEN, you can move into helping them problem solve ("That sounds difficult. What do you think you are going to do?").  Because validation diffuses emotions, the teen might feel better just after being heard and understood.  Ask them if they would like to brainstorm possible solutions or ideas to deal with the situation, and if they want to, then you can help them come up with some options. 

It's also important for parents to VALIDATE THEMSELVES when dealing with emotionally-charged situations involving the teen.  If parents can take a moment to validate their own emotions and urges, that can help to decrease the intensity. For instance, if your teen is angrily refusing to give you their cell phone at night, even though they know this is the expectation, and the parent gets mad or anxious about the teen's reaction, it can be helpful to first self-validate.  Saying to yourself, "This is frustrating, and it makes sense I would feel this way due to all of the previous conflicts we've had about this" can help to slow your reactivity and help you to be calmer in your approach.  You can then try to validate the teen's anger by saying, "I know this is frustrating to you, and that you'd prefer to keep your phone with you all night, but we've discussed the expectation that the phone needs to be in my room after 11 pm").  

If you're interested in joining the PARENT GROUP on THURSDAYS from 12-1 pm, contact Candace at (512) 680-0425 or by email at austindbt@yahoo.com  



In : Adolescents 


Tags: teens  parents of teenagers  adolescent dbt  dbt teens