Therapy Blog for Orem, Spanish Fork & South Jordan

Moody Teen? Here’s How Therapy Can Help

Therapy for Your Teen: How to Manage Big Feelings

If you are the parent of a teenager, you might be seeing a lot of big feelings coming from your child. And managing your teens’ moods can be overwhelming! Maybe your teen cries, throws fits, and acts defiant in a way that feels like their toddler years. It can be hard to know how to help and where to begin when it comes to seeking help in therapy. 

Today, you’ll read about developmen teen therapytally appropriate ways you can help your teens manage their emotions. Then, you will learn how therapy can help your teen thrive during their teenage years and beyond. 

When it Comes to Your Teen, Big Feelings Come with the Territory

By now, you have probably noticed that being a teen comes with big challenges and big changes. In this phase your child is trying to handle changes in their body, friends, school, and even their mind. And with this change comes anxiety and fear of the unknown. Now, you might be surprised to learn that heightened emotions and anxiety are somewhat normal and expected for your teen during this phase of their development (Source). Just like how temper tantrums were a normal part of raising a toddler, big feelings are part of raising a teen. 

Now, actually helping your teen to manage these intense emotions can be difficult. And there is a reason for that; although your teen is beginning to look more like an adult, that doesn’t mean that their mind functions like an adult mind. For instance, full grown adults have a fully developed frontal lobe and amygdala. These areas of the brain control many functions that are essential to stay safe and stable as a full grown adult. These things include decision making, logic and reasoning, and emotional regulation. And because your child is still developing these areas of their brain, it would be unrealistic to expect them to act and think exactly like a full grown adult. 

Supporting Your Teen 

So, what can you do to support your teen as they grow and develop? How can you validate them and also help them to be productive and functional? Let’s talk about some strategies that might help. 

Offer Validation of Their Feelings

This one can be kind of hard, I’ll admit! Sometimes when your teen is experiencing intense emotions, they can’t seem to be reasoned with. And that can lead to miscommunications and misunderstandings that can leave both you and your teen frustrated and upset.

So, what can you do? Sadly, there isn’t anything you can do to skip the teenage phase and go straight to a fully developed brain that handles emotions calmly. But, there is something you can try the next time your teen is struggling with big emotions: validate. (Related article: Therapy for Teens: Negative Self Talk). Now, I know you might be thinking “but isn’t that encouraging my teen to act out”? But, validating does not mean encouraging or justifying your teens reactions to things. It means showing your child that you are aware of them and you care about what they are experiencing. teen therapy

For example, maybe your daughter just won’t stop crying about a boy at school. Your first instinct might be to say something like “hey, don’t cry, it’ll get better. Plus, you’re just in high school, and someday you will forget this even happened”. Sure, that logic might work for an adult. But that means your teen is still sitting in their emotions, alone. Instead, try acknowledging what you observe about their emotions. For instance, “I see that this is so hard for you”. Then, reassure them you are here to support them as they process. This might not magically make feelings disappear, but this approach provides much needed support and comfort during a very challenging and overwhelming time for your teen. (Related Article: Communicating with Your Teens). 

Help Your Teen See Their Strengths

Another way to support your teen is to find chances to build them up when they aren’t upset. You can do this by looking for your child’s strengths. Then, let them know you see those strengths! Helping your teen to identify what they are good at can help to empower them and give them confidence in their abilities. As they utilize that confidence, they will learn how to use their strengths to overcome especially challenging days and situations. (Related article: Parenting Teens). 

Individual and Family Therapy with Your Teen

Lastly, you can help your teen through this period by seeking out help in therapy. Since your situation and your family’s needs are unique, there are many different therapy options available for you to try. Individual therapy for your teen or family therapy as a group can be very beneficial and give your teen the support they need to face their challenges. Even individual therapy for you as a parent can give you the extra support and piece of mind you need to confidently help your teen through this exciting and challenging phase of life. 

Ready to begin? Find therapy for you and your teens in Orem, South Jordan, or Spanish Fork, or via Telehealth for anyone in Utah.

Written by Lauren Adkins


Lauren Adkins

Writer for the Center for Couples and Families


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