By Stephen C. Schultz
As we enter this Holiday Season, I hope the Holidays bring meaningful time spent with family and the joy associated with renewed relationships.
It is sad, but true…every year RedCliff Ascent has an increase in inquiries around the Holidays. Teens that tend to be struggling anyway seem to escalate their behavior around the Holidays for some reason. If you are a parent and find yourself in this situation, please know that you are not alone.
Adolescents who are struggling with depression, anxiety, peer relationships or trauma typically tend to view the world in a very narrow and rigid manner. This really is not a judgment as much as it is simply stating a fact. It is difficult for them to move beyond the very ego-centric orientation that they have adopted around their environment and their relationships. Some would say this is “normal” adolescence complicated with emotional concerns.
Some adolescents, those struggling in school or those who tend to act out with anger, maintain a very guarded view of their relationship with their parents. It is not uncommon for an out-of-control teen to view his or her parents more as contemporaries rather than acknowledge the parents have achieved a higher level of experience and wisdom throughout their lives. Some adolescents blatantly demand that they be the ones in control of the family dynamic and not their parents. They conceitedly see themselves as peers to their parents.
We have found that adolescents tend to be much more receptive to information, instruction and feedback from adults when they are in a neutral environment and there is no immediate concern about dominating the interaction with their parents. They will however, try to maintain control of their situation, often through immature and impulsive means.
You can read more about how teens will try to exert influence over their surroundings when they really have limited life perception here.
It is interesting to see how they use the same techniques and manipulative skills that got them in trouble in the first place.
The term “out-of-control” conjures up visions of disrespectful, substance abusing, belligerent, angry adolescents. However, it is equally applicable to depressed, anxiety ridden teens that may be suffering from ADHD, NLD or Autism Spectrum Disorder. When teenagers struggle with these clinically complicated issues, their life does feel out of control in a very real sense.
The above link is a personal experience I had with RedCliff Ascent a few years ago. I hope you find it helpful. This article discusses the clinical efforts used to reinsert the adolescent into the appropriate developmental stage with the family.