My Teen is Struggling Socially
● Throughout adolescence, most teens experience a growing sense of independence and autonomy from parents and a greater interest in their peers.
● Acceptance in a peer group plays an important role in their lives. They may try on new ‘identities’ shaped by peer influence, making choices about clothing, hobbies/interests and sexuality. They may engage in risk-taking behaviours, like experimenting with drugs or alcohol and testing limits set by parents and
● Teens’ experiences of peer pressure can be both positive and negative. Their increased emotional and cognitive development contributes to being able to discuss, challenge, and support one another to make more informed choices.
● Being more involved and connected to peers can also present challenges for teens, including pressure to conform, joining cliques, or being at risk of bullying and exclusion.
Is My Teen Struggling Socially?
Increasing Sad, Anxious or Irritable Feelings:
Many parents struggle with the emotional and behavioural changes that come with the onset of adolescence. You might notice your child is more silent or sullen, and spends more time alone away from family. They may seem more grumpy or irritable with parents and siblings. While this is all normal for the age, a teen who is experiencing social struggles with peers or friends may present as more anxious or upset about many things, or they may become upset, withdrawn or angry when confronted with opportunities to socialize. They may deny their interest in connecting with peers and may harbor feelings of shame or embarrassment about their struggle.
Changes in Routines or Interests:
Teens who are experiencing social struggles often avoid the people and places that make them feel uncomfortable or unsafe. You might notice that your child avoids going to particular activities or chooses not to spend time with specific peers anymore. They may leave for school late to avoid peers. They may express that they have lost interest in participating in their usual routine activities and that they prefer to stay home more often.
Loss of Self-Confidence:
Growing teenagers become increasingly self-aware and more cognizant of their relationships with their peers. Teens who are struggling to connect and to find their place may be hurt, frustrated, and feel like something is wrong with them. They may try to start conversations with others to no avail. It may be difficult observing others having fun and being together. They may lose confidence in themselves and stop trying at all.
Increasing Conflict with Parents When Discussing Friends:
It’s no secret that teens are often reluctant to talk to parents about many aspects of their life – this is normal. If you have a feeling that your teen is struggling with friends, conversations about friendship and socializing may reach a new level of intensity. Your teen may respond with outbursts of frustration or anger or they may disengage from the conversation quickly. Teens may deny any problem or they may demand the subject be dropped altogether.
A teen may determine it’s too difficult to cope with the isolation, bullying or lack of friendship. School might be a challenging place to exist because being there amplifies feelings of loneliness and/or presents opportunities for bullying or exclusion. Parents may argue with teens to get up each morning and teens may stop attending. There are many preventative supports that can be implemented at any stage of your child’s educational journey. You’re the expert on your child: If you think something isn’t quite right, trust your instincts and reach out for help.
An Overview of Counselling at the Centre
Depending on your teen’s situation, there are a variety of routes we can take with their counselling. First sessions generally serve as consultations to get a better understanding of your teen’s unique situation. From there, we may work with your child over a handful of sessions or a longer period of time. We have found that counselling is a truly healing experience for many teens, and talking through their issues is a great way for them to reconnect to themselves and their families. Being seen, heard, known, and understood is extremely important for everyone – and no less for a teen navigating new emotions and experiences. Through our sessions, we will help your teen work
through their emotions and build positive relationships.
Simply put, counselling works: It can help your teen feel better and lead to a positive shift within your family. We welcome and encourage questions. Our FAQ page may be able to address some of these.
If you’re interested in learning more, please reach out to one of our Client Care Coordinators. They should help clear up questions you may have about finding a therapist that fits your teen’s needs and personality and how counselling works at the Toronto Counselling Centre for Teens. All calls are commitment-free. We can address any further questions or concerns and/or connect you to a therapist that can meet your needs.
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