Are you getting a little uncomfortable with your teenager's big emotions and not really sure
how to deal with them? Well, let's talk about that today 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 and the nonprofit 501c3 organization, Child and Teen Counseling. Counseling, excuse
me. Both here in Woodland Hills, California. Every Wednesday at noon, I hop on to Facebook Live
to answer your parenting questions. Let's jump into today's question. I need advice on how
to respond to my kid's big mood swings. I feel like when he was a younger kid, it was just so easy
to comfort him when he was upset. Like I'd say, it's all right, when he hurt himself and he would
bounce back pretty quick. Now he's 15 and he's going through some drama with his girlfriend
and it's not even his first one. My husband and I are
kind of taken aback by how extremely emotional he gets. We're talking everything from hours
of brooding to angry outbursts to crying in his room. I guess we're not totally comfortable
with it because we want him to be able to cope. But at the same time, we don't want our discomfort
to affect him negatively. What do we do to help him? Thank you very much for your question. Let's
talk first about the difference between a 15 -year -old and let's say a five -year -old, right?
So a five -year -old is running around the front yard, falls down, scrapes his knee, he's crying.
You pick him up, you sing to him, you give him an apple slice and he's feeling better and he's back
to doing what five -year -olds do. 15 -year -old, he's probably not falling down and scraping
his knee, but the emotions he's going through are just as big, if not bigger, because he's a teenager
and his brain is developing vastly and quickly and exponentially. His emotions are much bigger
and they deal with more significant
things, not just a scraped knee or not being able to have a toy or having to go to bed and brush his
teeth. Those things are easily, compared to a teenager, easily dealt with and the solution
comes quickly. Whereas he's having communication issues with his girlfriend or struggling
with feeling how does he fit in in the world or who is he in these existential crises that all teenagers
go through, those are big emotions that don't have a tangible solution. And that's where the
coping strategies come in and how do you deal with the unanswerable? How do you deal with uncertainty
in an uncertain world? When you want certainty and you can't have it. When you're five years
old, there's a lot more certainty. Mom and dad are there, mom and dad are gonna take care of you,
there's gonna be a solution and usually the things can be fixed. With a 15 -year -old, it's much
different. So you can't just go and say, hey, there, there, buddy, it's gonna be okay and he's
gonna just go, all right, and pop to
it. He's gonna have to go through these things. Now, hopefully, he has you and your husband to
lean on for emotional support. And what he does, it's not about you solving the problem because
you can't solve the problem anymore, but you can do it, just sit with him, put your arm around
his shoulder, hold him, listen, validate his feelings, don't try to give him advice, don't
try to solve the problem, just be there to help him feel heard and understood. And that's hard
to do because you know what he should do. You know exactly what he should do to make things better.
He should either break up with his girlfriend or he should apologize to his girlfriend or he
should just turn into his homework to his teacher or talk to his teacher or whatever the problem
is, you know the solution because you've been through this. You have the life experience and
the wisdom to know. He probably knows what he should do as well. He just needs to feel it first.
And if you try to jump to solving the problem, you're
jumping over the emotional process he has to go through. Now, if he's not opening up to you, he's
pushing you away, he doesn't have any safe place to really vent and get this off his chest, you
may wanna make sure he has someone like a therapist who specializes with kids and teens or it's
an uncle or an aunt or a grandmother or someone who he trusts and he can confide in. Really make
sure he has that because if he's feeling all alone, it's gonna be tough for him to cope through
this stuff. It's tough because as parents, when our kids are struggling emotionally, it hits
our emotional buttons too. It makes us feel uncertain, makes us question are we doing a good
enough job. And it's important to recognize that our job for a 15 -year -old child is not to solve
their problem, it's to support them so they can learn to support themselves and learn how to
deal with this. It's not an easy thing to do. So make sure you're getting your support as well
so you're grounded when he can't be. That's our
question for today. Thank you very much. If you like your question answered on Tips on Teens
on a Wednesday at noon, email us at tipsonteens at teentherapycenter .com or direct messages
right here on Facebook or Instagram. We love your questions. I'll see you next Wednesday at
noon on Facebook Live. Thanks everybody and have a good week. Bye bye.
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.