A little behind the scenes look: those of us family therapists who have teenagers can often relate with the parents we work with. And that can be a good thing in family therapy as we have real life experience and empathy with the parents and the teenager we work with.
Parenting is tough. Parenting a teen can at times be a bit tougher. Parenting a teen with emotional or behavioral challenges is challenging at orders of magnitude. Let's take a look at what research shows in parenting a teen with behavioral challenges.
Behavioral Challenges in Teenagers
Behavioral challenges in teenagers show in many different ways. For one family it may involve property damage, drug use, or even physical aggression. While for another family it may be limited to talking back and disrespect.
These challenges are often the most stressful for families to manage because of the behavior's far-reaching effects. Behavioral challenges can impact school performance, household environment, safety, and can have a major effect on the teen’s success as an adult.
Every family is different with their unique composition, strengths and challenges. This is why it is important to find a teen counselor and family therapist willing to provide care that is unique to their family.
There is one thing that research shows is important for managing behavioral issues for any family: parent involvement.
Let’s look at the research to explore why this is such an important factor in successful outcomes for behavioral issues for teens.
Parental Involvement & Other Factors in Behavioral Challenges in Teens
Every family experience behavioral challenges from their teenagers from time to time. This is part of what makes parenting so difficult! There are a few factors that research has identified as contributing to chronic behavioral problems:
1. Family Stress
The first is family stress. It is not uncommon for a teenager to express their frustration or feelings of stress through behavioral issues. Their course load at school or cellphone use may play a large role. And stress within the family is one of the more influential factors for a teen to feel stressed.
Family stress can include stress experienced by the parents including:
Emotional cutoffs, etc.
Parents set the emotional tone for the household. So, if parents are experiencing stress, it is soaked up by their teens. This could express itself through behavioral issues.
2. Family Organization
Another factor associated with behavioral issues in teens is the organization of the family. Every family is unique in how it is structured.
Some kids have parents that are married while some have parents that are divorced. With families of divorced parents, there is a variety of custody arrangements. And this only becomes more complicated with the addition of step-family members.
In addition, parents take different roles and responsibilities given their current make up of the family. It is easy for relationships and roles within the family to get very complicated and difficult to navigate. Behavioral issues are a common response to this stress experienced by the family.
3. Parenting Style & Approach
Third on the list is parenting. This can be a very tricky thing to write about. Parenting is very personal to each parent. And parenting plays a large role in consistency, predictability, and stability in a teenager's life.
Parenting is an extremely difficult task (and that still may be understating it). It is not a class taught at school and there are as many books on parenting as there are parents.
And parenting styles and approaches can be different between both parents. When parents approach parenting from two different angles, this can create stress. Parenting as a unified duo creates a sense of stability and consistency that brings stress relief.
Our biggest influence on us is our parents who are ourselves imperfect. This leads to parents, understandably, struggling sometimes to know how to handle complex behavioral issues. And yes, it is very complex.
Openness to learning in this area is an essential part of successful outcomes in counseling. When parents are open to change, the teenager's often follow as a result.
4. Parent-Teenager Relationship
Finally, high levels of parent-teenager relationships are associated with lower behavioral challenges. This could also include extended family.
Parents are one of the primary and most influential support systems a teen has. There is truth to the phrase “Rules without relationship equals rebellion.”
This is a challenging area. When a teenager has behavioral issues, it becomes difficult to have a relationship.
And building and developing a relationship with your teenager is a key factor in helping them overcome behavioral challenges. This is also where an experienced teen counselor and family therapist come in.
Teen Therapy & Family Counseling Specialists
A therapist who specializes in teen counseling and family therapy can help address the behavioral challenges with the teenager. And they can also help provide guidance to parents on approaches they can take to strengthen their relationship.
Looking at all of these factors can help us identify where behavioral challenges may arise from. And it also shows how influential parents are in the teen’s life and their role in successful treatment of behavioral challenges.
Teenagers may present as mini adults. In reality, their brain is in a state of development where they are more like larger children. In this stage, parents play a significant role in positive therapy outcomes.
This is why individual teen therapy alone is less effective for long term change. The teenager may learn coping skills and have a weekly outlet, but when the family system changes as a whole, this is where we see long term changes.
It is beyond the teen’s ability alone to change family structure, social support, parenting practices, or family stress. When these factors are addressed in teen counseling and family therapy, we start to see hope arise not only in the teen, but the parents as well.
This is why it is important to find a teen counselor and family therapist who understands these factors and is confident and capable of working with the whole family. Unfortunately, many counselors are only trained to work with individuals.
If you are experiencing behavioral problems with your teenager there is hope! Change is possible, and many families find family counseling to be a successful and life changing part of their journey.
Katy Teen & Family Counseling: Teen Counseling & Family Therapy Katy, TX & Houston
At Katy Teen & Family Counseling, we have 70+ years of combined experience in providing teen therapy and family counseling. You don't need to live with behavioral challenges any longer. There are answers. There is hope.
If you are ready to start teen counseling or family therapy at our Katy, Tx location of Katy Teen & Family Counseling, all you need to do is follow these three simple steps:
Other Therapy and Counseling Services Offered at Katy Teen & Family Counseling
At Katy Teen & Family Counseling, we provide a variety of therapy approaches that are supported by research and shown to be effective. Some of the teen therapy, young adult counseling, & family counseling services we offer are:
Board Certified Neurofeedback Therapy
Peak performance (optimal academic brain performance)
Peak performance (optimal athletic brain performance)
Accelerated Resolution Therapy (ART)
Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR Therapy)
Group Therapy for Teens
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT)
Couples Therapy & Marriage Counseling
To succeed in any relationship takes work. This is a common understanding that many of us have.
However, sometimes life will throw challenges at us that create situations that put strain on our marriage or relationship. It may be due to:
Choices and actions that have been made by one partner.
Financial downturn in the economy creating financial strain.
Feeling like you're growing apart.
Feeling like you don't have as much in common as you used to.
About the Author
Through his education and experience, Justin Perry, LMFT-A specializes in teen counseling, young adult therapy, and family therapy. Justin understands the important role that the family plays in each teenager's long-term success.
Justin views teen counseling through the lens of the family system and draws on his education and experience as a family therapist to help teens and families meet their goals in therapy.
If you are ready to start teen counseling, young adult counseling, or family therapy call, text, or email us today!
Phone Number: 281-519-6364