Want to hear something scary? According to the CDC, the second leading cause of death among teens aged 15 to 19 is suicide, only second to accidents. Adolescence is the most formative and volatile part of anyone’s life. Pile on the stressors of school, social life, sports, parents, relationships, etc. and it is a lot for a young person to handle. Intensified by the fact that many teenagers are simultaneously struggling with anxiety, depression, eating disorders, social disorders, ADHD, behavior health disorders, emotional disorders, physical disorders… the list goes on and on. Any number of these struggles could be on your teenager’s plate and their friends, teachers, and family may not even be aware. The teenager themselves may not even realize they are struggling with one of these many issues.
Many teenagers do not have the vocabulary to express their feelings, thoughts, emotions, and struggles. As their parents and mentors, it is our responsibility to help them expand their knowledge, and self-awareness to better communicate their needs, struggles and goals.
Recognizing there is an issue is one step, but the second step can be even more difficult. Getting your teenager to agree to receive help for any of these issues can be a huge hurdle. Many teens are resistant to receiving help for emotional, physical, or behavioral issues. Accepting help, from their perspective, can feel like admitting being ‘broken’ or ‘not good enough’, and can make a teenager feel like a failure. Although this couldn’t be further from the truth, it’s important to help them understand their feelings are valid and delicate.
If your teenager could benefit from the support of a mentor-coach, therapist, psychologist, tutor, etc., but is feeling resistant to the idea, keep reading for some recommendations and tips on how to bridge this gap and get them the help they need and deserve.
How to Talk to a Resistant Teen
- Understand Why They Feel Resistant
- They are embarrassed – “I’m not broken”
- They don’t think it will work – “I can do it on my own”
- They don’t think they need help – “This is just how I am”
- They feel hopeless – “Nothing will work”
- They don’t like it – “I’ve tried it before and it’s not for me”
- Why do you think it won’t work?
- What part of it feels bad to you?
- If you do not get this help, what other solutions do you have?
- Why do you think you’re having such strong feelings about this?
- Can you help me understand your point of view?
- Remain calm throughout the conversation and explain the reasons you think your teenager will benefit from the assistance.
- I think the mentor-coach might be a good way for you to learn how to better communicate and understand your emotions so you don’t feel upset as often.
- I wonder how a tutor might help you understand what parts of Geometry are more difficult for you and explain them in a different way that might make more sense.
- You are capable of doing hard things and it is completely okay to ask for help along the way. I am here to help support you through everything, but I am not an expert in ______. It’s ok to feel unsure about it right now. How can I help you feel more comfortable with moving forward? What information do you still need to know?
- Relate it to something they already understand
- What do you want to get out of this if we do it?
- What type of mentor-coach/therapist/tutor/etc would you be comfortable working with?
- What do you need help with right now?
Don’t Give Up
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