I think we have all heard it before. A teen says, “My parents don’t get me.” A spouse says, “I wish you would just listen and stop trying to fix things.” It feels like there is a block in communication and nothing ever changes. If you are feeling frustrated and stuck, utilizing validation in your communication with family members can get the ball rolling in a more positive direction. [Read more…]
Welcome to Our Blog!
This blog is written by the clinicians at Jonah Green and Associates, a mental health practice based in Kensington, MD that provides quality services for children, teens, families, and adults. It is intended as a resource for families who are seeking to expand their knowledge about mental health and mental health services, and also as a resource for families who are seeking quality mental health services, especially in the mid-Atlantic region. Please feel free to post questions and comments on any of the entries as well as on any topics or articles from our companion web site www.childandfamilymentalhealth.com.
It may sound cliché, but in my professional experience it could not be more accurate: There is an enormous amount of academic pressure on children today. Many of the children and teenagers who seek my services are struggling with severe anxiety over the workload, pace and level of difficulty experienced in school. Some of these children have an extra challenge: trying to keep up with the hefty demands of school while also having a Learning Difference (LD).
We love our children dearly, and they also make us furious. We may find ourselves angrier at the things our children do, whether they are two or seventeen, than we can remember feeling towards anyone else. And yet we know that forcefully expressing this anger rarely helps a situation. Feelings escalate, until everyone becomes more upset. Not much learning takes place. We tell ourselves over and over not to get mad, but sometimes the feelings well up and we feel helpless to our own explosion. Yet the level of anger we experience is directly related to the depth of our love and concern for our children.
Couples and family members who enter therapy to improve their relationships have usually endured long periods of harsh conflict. Couples might be caught in repetitive cycles of criticism and defensiveness; parents and teens might be trapped in power struggles; siblings may find themselves in escalating rivalries. Anguished to stop destructive arguments, people usually begin therapy focused on containing their conflicts. Therapists can help clients to manage their conflicts by helping them engage in respectful communication focused on thoughts and feelings, and avoiding excessive blame, criticism, and stonewalling. With improved communication, power struggles can become more manageable, and conflicts can more easily resolve.
In a previous post, I talked about adolescence as a time of transition for the entire family, especially the relationship between teens and their parents, and the important role that parenting has on later development. As a child moves into early adolescence (around 13-14 years), established routines between parent and child will shift and reorganize to accommodate the emerging identities for children and parents. A high degree of variability may exist in the way parents and children interact during this time, which may feel as though conflict has increased in its intensity and frequency, and may not show stability until late adolescence (around 17-18). It is important to remember that some degree of this conflict is expected, and as mentioned in my previous post, how parents approach their children is important during this developmental period. Because a certain level of conflict can be expected, we can prepare and support our teens’ transition through adolescence. One way of doing this is to engage in a healthy way to resolve conflict through communication.