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Alternative Psychotherapies: Evaluating Unconventional Mental Health Treatments

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Guest Post by Jane Bongato: Helping Your Adolescent Cope with Pressures

Adolescence is a difficult time in any child’s life, no matter how well adjusted they may be. With their bodies changing and an increased self-awareness, most young people struggle with a number of age-related issues such as peer pressure, sibling rivalry, body image, self-esteem, depression, relationships and anxiety over their future career and education.
As parents, it is our job to guide them through this challenging period in their lives and make their transition from childhood to adulthood as easy as possible.
Following are some tips and advice on ways to mentor your teen and help them cope with all the pressures that come with growing up.
Be there for them
The best thing you could do as a parent is to be there for your child when they need someone to talk to or even just a listening ear. Make sure that your teen knows that you will always make time for them and encourage them to share their hopes, dreams, worries and problems with you.
Be quick to praise but slow to judge, and always remind them that they are valued and loved. Even teens who don’t seem too interested in bonding with you once they reach a certain age will appreciate the fact that you are making an effort to communicate and spend time with them.
Communication shouldn’t only happen when you are disciplining them or when you think there may be a problem. It should be a daily occurrence, even if it’s just a friendly chat about how their day went.
Try to connect on a regular basis by doing simple things together, whether it’s preparing a meal, watching a TV show you don’t particularly care for or agreeing to listen to their music in the car during a long trip.
Don’t smother them with your own expectations
It’s fine to encourage different hobbies, educational achievements or career paths, but take care that you don’t weigh them with your own expectations. Remember that the most important thing is for your child to be happy and have the ability to express their individuality, even if it means that they choose a style, boyfriend/girlfriend or career that you would not have.
Most teens naturally rebel against their parents’ way of doing things, and trying to force them down a certain path will likely only cause them to run in the opposite direction.
Instead of smothering, allow them the freedom to choose their own hairstyles, clothing, friends, education and career (unless, of course, these are in some way unhealthy for them). 

Don’t downplay their problems
It’s easy to forget what it was like to be a teen once we grow up and start dealing with other problems that we perceive to be more “real.” However, as parents, we must be able to put ourselves in their shoes and think back to what it was like to be a teenager; when a bout of acne before a school dance seemed like the end of the world or the end of a two-day relationship meant you would never love again.
It is important to acknowledge their problems and struggles, no matter how small they may seem to us. Laughing it off or telling them that “it’s not so bad” or that “it could be worse” is not helpful and will only heighten their sense of being misunderstood.
Respect their privacy
It can be extremely tempting as a parent to meddle in every aspect of your teenager’s life and justify such behavior by telling yourself that you are doing it to keep them safe. However, not respecting your teen’s privacy will prevent them from trusting you and could breed anger or resentment later on in life.
There is a fine line between looking out for your child’s wellbeing and snooping through their private life. Things like reading diaries, logging into their social media accounts or listening in on private conversations should be avoided at all costs.
If you are concerned about them or believe they are getting involved in something dangerous, the best way to deal with it is to approach them directly and ask them about it. Don’t be afraid to step in if need be, but don’t go to unnecessary lengths to spy on them either.
Teach them what they need to know
As awkward as some things may be to bring up with your teen, it is important to make sure that they have all the information they need on important topics like relationships, safe sex, STDs, eating disorders and drugs and alcohol.
Yes, they may cringe or tell you they don’t want to talk about it or that they know all there is to know, but ignoring these issues or assuming they will learn about it in school or from a friend could leave them open to serious problems down the line.
If you don’t feel comfortable talking about these things with them yourself, you may want to consider enlisting help from someone else, like an aunt, uncle or close family friend, as teens often feel more comfortable discussing such issues with someone who isn’t their mother or father.
Providing them with educational material is also a good way to ensure that they are well-informed, without having to sit them down for “the talk”.
About the author:
Jane Bongato is part of the team behind Open Colleges (
 Australia’s provider of child care courses (  She is an early childhood educator  with a background in psychology and for the past six years has worked closely with special needs children. She enjoys reading, painting or meeting friends during her spare time. (Find her on Google+ )


  1. Hello There,
    I just wanted to see if you were currently interested in additional guest bloggers for your blog site.
    I see that you've accepted some guest posters in the past - are there any specific guidelines you need me to follow while making submissions?
    If you're open to submissions, whom would I need to send them to?
    I'm eager to send some contributions to your blog and think that I can cover some interesting topics.
    Thanks for your time,

  2. I'm not particularly interested in getting guest bloggers in, but if you want to ask me about some topics you have in mind you can do it right here.