Is your teenager an attention junkie? That is today's question on Tips on Teens. My name is Kent
Toussaint. I'm a licensed marriage and family therapist, and I specialize in helping kids,
teens, and families live happier lives. I lead two organizations, the Group Private Practice
Teen Therapy Center, also the nonprofit organization, Child and Teen Counseling, both here
in Woodland Hills, California. Every Wednesday at noon, I jump into your Facebook feed or your
Instagram feed, and answer your parenting questions live on Facebook. So here is today's question.
I've had the realization recently that my son might be an attention junkie. Since quarantine,
my wife and I have been at home, but we work about eight hours a day, so even though we're together,
we're not as present and focused on our kids as we'd normally be. He's 13 years old, the youngest
of three, and the other two are college age and busy with their own lives. It seems more and more,
my youngest son wants lots of verbal praise
for everything he does. I want him to feel secure and good about himself. Is this an insecurity
thing? And what can I do to address the topic with him? So let's jump in right into the question.
There's a couple of ways I wanna look at this. Number one, I imagine you got this 13 year old boy
who's been in quarantine for four months, hasn't been able to go out and see his friends, hasn't
been able to go to do anything, stuck in his room, stuck at home. He's got two parents who are working
during the day because they gotta work and totally that makes sense. He's got two older siblings
who are college age Don't want to be bothered by their pipsqueak little brother and he's just
sitting there pulling his hair out. He's so bored and ah What is he gonna do? So he goes over. Hey,
dad. Hey, dad. Hey, mom. Hey, mom Hey dad when you're trying to do, you know a conference call
with your boss and the other people in the office And it's a little embarrassing. It's a little
frustrating. He's like, can
I do this? Can I do that? Is this good enough? Is that good enough and it's driving him crazy? I
totally get it and there are some kids and some people they just need to be they just can't be home
alone all day They have to be social, they have to be interactive. Especially, there are many
kids in my practice who I've known who have attention issues, who have been diagnosed with ADHD,
whatever. You know, if they're not doing it with someone, it's kind of not worth doing. They
need to share the experience. They need to have that shared experience. And you know, sometimes
for some kids, being online is not the same thing. You know, you can say, go out and shoot hoops
in the front yard, or you know, draw, or read. It's not the same thing. They need to have a shared
experience. So it's a challenge. So, what I encourage you to do in this situation is make sure
that you're involving him as much as you can. You know, when you're in the office and you're doing
emails and phone calls, is there something
that you can involve him in doing? You know, can he help you file? Can he, you know, is there something
that he can do? I've had some families do this where they get their kids kind of working for the
business in a sense. You know, maybe it's, you know, they're not getting paid, but they have
something to do and they feel important, they feel responsible. Maybe you get them involved
in volunteering somehow and they're doing something online, whether it's for, you know, a
social movement, a political campaign, you know, helping support, you know, people in need.
There's a lot of ways you can do that. Again, he's 13, so your options are limited. If you can rope
the older siblings in to spending a little bit of time with him each day, it may be beneficial,
but I don't know if you can count on that. But it's tough during quarantine. The other side of
this I want to talk about is the insecurity of always needing that validation. Am I good enough?
Did I do it right? Did I do it right? And no
matter how many times you say you did it right, it's not gonna be enough. And so what I want you
to focus on, instead of focusing on the end result, let's say you want him to do some math workbooks
during the summer, right? And he does the workbook. Is it good enough? Is it good enough? Instead
of talking about, is it good enough? Talk about his focus, his perseverance, his ability to
challenge himself and sit through this, even though it was hard to do. He can control that. He
can't control the end result. We can't control the end result of anything We control the process
of how we approach working towards an end result If he's painting you want to talk about how you
know his focus on color his focus thoughtfulness in what he's doing You know, what is his opinion
on how things are going? What does he think? Does he think it's good? Writing instead of right,
you know focus on did he spell things right or wrong? You can focus on his penmanship Like, wow,
I can tell you're really focusing
on improving your penmanship. Your letters are getting more clear. I can read it more easily.
That's wonderful. Focusing on things that he can control. If you focus on the end result, it's
always like, I don't know, because you don't know if you can get that end result all the time.
None of us get the end result we want all the time. In fact, we don't get the end result we want often,
you know, but we have learned to adapt and keep going until we find a result that works for us.
And that goes to that core anxiety. And if we don't start addressing that early, it can build
and build and build in the teen years, and everything comes in question. And there's a lot of
reasons why that can happen. I mean, there's thousands of reasons, so I can't really go into
details of why it happens, but it could be anything. Denying yourself, and you focus on something
else instead. Focus on these other anxieties, so this deeper issue doesn't get addressed.
But anyways, when you can spend time with them,
spend time with them. If you guys go shoot hoops in the front yard, just focus on having fun, not
about how good he's doing. Don't try to coach him, you know. Unless he's really wanting a coach,
don't coach him. Because usually when we coach our kids, they don't want the coaching, and it
just turns into an argument, and they feel like they can't do it well enough anyway. So just enjoy
the time. If you're gonna sit and watch a TV show, snuggle on the couch together. If you guys are
gonna, you know, draw together, have fun. You know, don't focus on who's is better. You know,
focus on the fun you're having, because we can control that. And that's we want him to control
it focus on is enjoying himself because if he can enjoy himself He might find that inner validation
within himself as he gets to be an adult complicated topic I know but please if you want me to talk
about this more Give us a call or email us if you have questions You can always you know email your
questions you want us to answer
every Wednesday at noon at tips on teens at teen Therapy center comm or you can direct messages
right here on Facebook. We love hearing from you guys Thanks so much, and we'll see you next week
on Wednesday. Again, my name is Kent Toussaint, and this has been Tips on Teens. Bye -bye.
How do you balance working from home with being present for you child? This week’s Tips On Teens question comes from a parent who is finds their child seeking more and more attention while trying to work for home.
“I’ve had the realization recently that my son might be an attention junkie. Since quarantine, my wife and I have been at home, but we work about 8 hours a day so even though we’re together more we’re not as “present” and focused on our kids as we’d normally be. He’s 13 years old, the youngest of three, and the other two are college age and busy with their own lives. It seems more and more my youngest son wants lots of verbal praise for everything he does. I want him to feel secure and good about himself. Is this an insecurity thing, and what can I do to address the topic with him?”
Tips On Teens is a vlog that our Clinical Director, Kent Toussaint, hosts every Wednesday at 12:00pm on Facebook Live. He will be answering parenting questions submitted to us by you to our email at TipsOnTeens@TeenTherapyCenter.com. Send us any questions you might have about parenting kids and teens and Kent will be answering them every week!
Head on over to our Facebook page every Wednesday at 12:00pm to watch LIVE! Check out our page here – https://www.facebook.com/TeenTherapyCenter/
If you have more questions or would like more information, please contact our Clinical Director, Kent Toussaint at 818.697.8555.