Tag Archives: teenagers

Odyssey Parenting Your Teen Strabane

Sound familiar? We can help!

The FREE Odyssey, Parenting Your Teen Programme will be running in Strabane from Thursday 1st October 2020!

Duration: 8 week programme – every Thursday from the 1st October for an hour and a half each evening
Aim: To improve the parent/adolescent relationship

The teenage years can be notoriously challenging but this programme can help you navigate your way through the reality of parenting teenagers.

The programme covers a range of topics and promotes the Authoritative Parenting style, which has been proven to be most effective. Odyssey, Parenting Your Teen is an evidence based programme and has been found to improve outcomes for parents, children and the whole family. 

The programme will be delivered online and these sessions will be available to parents living in the Strabane area. 

Odyssey Parenting Your Teen Topics

Call us now on 0808 8010 722 to register.

Freephone number currently available Monday – Thursday 9:30 am – 3:30 pm and Friday 9:30 am – 12:30 pm. 

This programme is being delivered free to parents thanks to funding from the Public Health Agency.

Odyssey Parenting Your Teen Downpatrick

Sound familiar? We can help!

The FREE Odyssey, Parenting Your Teen Programme will be running in Downpatrick from Wednesday 30th September 2020!

Duration: 8 week programme – every Wednesday from the 30th September for an hour and a half each evening
Aim: To improve the parent/adolescent relationship

The teenage years can be notoriously challenging but this programme can help you navigate your way through the reality of parenting teenagers.

The programme covers a range of topics and promotes the Authoritative Parenting style, which has been proven to be most effective. Odyssey, Parenting Your Teen is an evidence based programme and has been found to improve outcomes for parents, children and the whole family. 

The programme will be delivered online and these sessions will be available to parents living in the Downpatrick area. 

Odyssey Parenting Your Teen Topics

Call us now on 0808 8010 722 to register.

Freephone number currently available Monday – Thursday 9:30 am – 3:30 pm and Friday 9:30 am – 12:30 pm. 

This programme is being delivered free to parents thanks to funding from the Public Health Agency.

Odyssey Parenting Your Teen Magherafelt

Sound familiar? We can help!

The FREE Odyssey, Parenting Your Teen Programme will be running in Magherafelt from Tuesday 29th September 2020!

Duration: 8 week programme – every Tuesday from the 29th September for an hour and a half each evening
Aim: To improve the parent/adolescent relationship

The teenage years can be notoriously challenging but this programme can help you navigate your way through the reality of parenting teenagers.

The programme covers a range of topics and promotes the Authoritative Parenting style, which has been proven to be most effective. Odyssey, Parenting Your Teen is an evidence based programme and has been found to improve outcomes for parents, children and the whole family. 

The programme will be delivered online and these sessions will be available to parents living in the Magherafelt area. 

Odyssey Parenting Your Teen Topics

Call us now on 0808 8010 722 to register.

Freephone number currently available Monday – Thursday 9:30 am – 3:30 pm and Friday 9:30 am – 12:30 pm. 

This programme is being delivered free to parents thanks to funding from the Public Health Agency.

Odyssey Parenting Your Teen Belfast

Sound familiar? We can help!

The FREE Odyssey, Parenting Your Teen Programme will be running in Belfast from Monday 28th September 2020!

Duration: 8 week programme – every Monday from the 28th September for an hour and a half each evening
Aim: To improve the parent/adolescent relationship

The teenage years can be notoriously challenging but this programme can help you navigate your way through the reality of parenting teenagers.

The programme covers a range of topics and promotes the Authoritative Parenting style, which has been proven to be most effective. Odyssey, Parenting Your Teen is an evidence based programme and has been found to improve outcomes for parents, children and the whole family. 

The programme will be delivered online and these sessions will be available to parents living in the Belfast area. 

Odyssey Parenting Your Teen Topics

Call us now on 0808 8010 722 to register.

Freephone number currently available Monday – Thursday 9:30 am – 3:30 pm and Friday 9:30 am – 12:30 pm. 

This programme is being delivered free to parents thanks to funding from the Public Health Agency.

Guest Blog: The Teenage Brain in Lockdown

We have a special guest series of blogs from Dr John Coleman on parenting teenagers during the COVID-19 pandemic. 

This blog focuses on the teenage brain during this critical time of development for young people and the impact lockdown may be having.

Brain basics

Major change: The teenage years are a time of major change in the brain; 

New developments: Most areas of the brain are maturing and developing during these years; 

It takes time: This process is likely to start around puberty, but takes many years to complete; 

Ages and stages: We have learnt that, while the major changes take place in early to mid-adolescence, the brain continues to change and develop until the mid-twenties; 

Restructuring: During these years there is some restructuring of the brain; 

Pruning: As part of this there is some loss of brain cells, to enable the brain to become more efficient; 

Uncertainty: As a result, for a period there may be a degree of uncertainty and confusion; 

New skills: However, at the same time many new thinking skills are developing, allowing the young person to become more creative and thoughtful; 

The social brain: At this time there is rapid development of the social brain, leading to new skills in relationships but also to a preoccupation with the self and how the teenager appears to others; 

Hormone variation: Due to brain development there is much greater variation in hormone levels in the teenager than there is in the adult.  This can lead to unexpected swings of emotion and to possible difficulty in controlling feelings. 

How lockdown may affect the teenage brain

Exercise

Living in a constricted space may mean that the individual will be getting less exercise than normal.  Young people may be sleeping more, as the usual pressures of school are absent.  They may also be sitting in front of a screen for long periods.  However, the brain needs oxygen.  The more we move around, the more oxygen gets to our brains.  Lack of exercise means that less oxygen is getting to the brain. 

Routines

In the present circumstances it is all too easy for routines to disappear.   This is understandable, but a day free from routines is not helpful for teenagers.  Young people do need routines in the day.  Routines contribute to the growth and development of parts of the brain to do with structure and planning.   

Social isolation

Young people will be isolated from their friends.   This can be difficult to deal withContact with others of the same age provides support and is an arena for sharing experiences.  It is also valuable for brain function, as it supports the development of the social brain.  The internet and social media may help to mitigate the feeling of isolation. 

More intense family relationships  

Being together in the home will intensify relationships between parents and young people.  Conflicts may easily flare up over a range of issues.  Some may be over domestic problems, such as use of the kitchen, loud music or time spent in the bathroom.  Other conflicts may be more to do with health or lifestyle, such as bedtimes.   

Lack of privacy

Being together in lockdown relates also to the issue of privacy.  Young people need some privacy at this stage in their lives.  This may be hard to provide in the present circumstances, but some thought should be given to the importance of privacy for teenagers. 

Emotions  

In normal times young people may find it hard to manage their emotions.  Hormone variation plays a part here. During lockdown, living in a small space and cooped up with parents and siblings, emotions will be even harder to keep under control.   Teenagers may feel resentment or loss, and some may have higher levels of anxiety. The parts of the brain that regulate emotion may have a lot more work to do at this time.   

A sense of relief

It should be noted that some teenagers may be feeling a sense of relief at this time.  Being out of school may, for some, provide an escape from the stress created by school, such as tests, pressure from teachers and other possible tensions.   

Motivation

Under the conditions of lockdown it may be hard for young people to remain motivated in relation to school work or to planning for the future.   

Top Tips  - A Healthy Brain in Lockdown 

Exercise

Plan regular exercise or fitness routines for everyone in the familyIf possible, teenagers should move around rather than stay still for long periods.  Exercise can happen indoors as well as outdoors.  No one should sit in front of a screen for too long.  The more exercise and movement the individual engages in the more oxygen will be getting to the brain. 

Routines

A structure to the day is helpful for young people.  If possible, help them create their own routines and structures.   This will assist in managing the sense of imprisonment and isolation.  Routines will also contribute to the development of parts of the brain related to thinking, planning and problem-solving.  Routines also have health benefits, in particular in relation to sleep and nutrition. 

Emotions

Don’t be afraid to talk about feelings.  Try and keep everyone’s emotions under review.   If there is an opportunity for feelings to be expressed and shared, this will reduce the likelihood of explosions and uncontrolled outbursts.  If the young person can be given the sense that their feelings are being recognized and taken seriously this will assist with emotion regulation. 

Conflict

Conflicts within the family may well be heightened when families are thrown together.   It will be important to create processes in the family which will help to reduce such conflicts through open communication and acceptance of everyone’s needs.   Listening to each other and allowing a space for issues of conflict to be aired will help enormously. 

Communication

Although parents are likely to believe that teenagers do not want to communicate with them, this is a myth.  Teenagers do want to talk, but at times and in ways that feel safe to them. In the present situation communication – especially about worries and anxieties - is absolutely essential.  Brain development means that language skills are increasing, and this can be encouraged by open communication. 

New opportunities

Parents may be able to provide opportunities for young people to take on more roles in the family, such as looking after younger children, contributing to the domestic chores, and helping in other ways. Such things will give teenagers a sense of responsibility and will help them deal with some of the more difficult emotions. 

Screen time

It is inevitable that the digital world has become more important during lockdown.  This fact is just as applicable to adults as it is to teenagers.  In view of this normal rules and restrictions on screen time should be relaxed at this time.  There is no evidence that sensible use of the internet is damaging to the brain. However, adults in the family do need to keep an eye on what the young person is doing on-line.  Open discussion about this is to be encouraged, and parents should be alert to any inappropriate use of the internet.  

Motivation

Research has highlighted the fact that the teenage brain is especially sensitive to rewards. This may seem difficult to put into practice at present.  However, the more young people can be motivated by reward rather than criticism the more responsive they will be 

Parents do matter!  

Many parents have the view that they become less important as their sons and daughters move into the teenage years.  Everything we know tells us that this is untrue.  Teenagers do need their parents or other key adults.  They just need them in a different way from the way younger children need these important figures.   In the present lockdown parents and carers have an essential role to play in helping young people manage this stressful and unprecedented situation.  The support, the structure and the role-modelling that is provided by key adults are all important elements in the development of a healthy brain. 

Read more in the series

Read other guest blogs from Dr John Coleman in this special series during the current pandemic.

Listen to the podcast

Listen to the Parenting NI Podcast in conversation with Dr Coleman about teens & the pandemic.

Get more support

If you are in need of support with teenagers or any parenting issue please contact Parenting NI for free on 0808 8010 722.

Guest Blog: Teenagers and Mental Health during the Pandemic

We have a special guest series of blogs from Dr John Coleman on parenting teenagers during the COVID-19 pandemic. 

This blog will explore some of the feelings that young people are currently experiencing and how to talk to your teenager about mental health.

It is hard to talk about mental health problems when everyone, no matter what their situation, is struggling with the challenges caused by the coronavirus. It is an exceptionally hard time for us all. Everyone will experience anxiety and stress as a result of these circumstances.

For young people there are particular issues that they are having to face. There is a huge amount of loss. This is partly because the normal structure of their lives has disappeared. But also because many of the opportunities and good things that they might have expected this Easter and this summer have simply been swept away.

It is not surprising that some young people feel cheated and angry. It is difficult to know what to do with such feelings. For a small number of teenagers these feelings will be expressed in behaviour that is worrying for those around them, especially their parents.

If you have a teenage son or daughter who is experiencing mental health problems, it may be difficult to get help in the normal way. Clinics are under huge pressure, and people in the helping professions are having to work extra hard to provide assistance to their clients.

I have heard of a number of young people who are really struggling at this time. I will just highlight a few of the situations that have come to my notice:

  • A 16 year-old girl who cannot stop crying. She cannot say why this is happening to her.
  • A 15 year-old boy who vandalized a neighbour’s car, something that he has never done before. All he can say is that he feels angry with the world.
  • A 17 year-old girl who has started cutting herself. She says she hates herself.
  • A 17 year-old boy who has gone to bed, and won’t get up and won’t talk to anyone.
  • A 14 year-old girl whose anorexia has got worse since the virus appeared. She says she needs to take control of her life as everything else is out of control.

It is very hard for parents

The suggestions I make here will not be easy. One of the key challenges for parents who are at home with their teenager will be to find a way of managing their own anxiety. The more anxious you are as a parent, the harder it will be for the young person to accept any help or support.

There is a reason for this. We know that young people worry about the effect of their distress on their parents. In most cases they want to be able to protect their parents, no matter how troubled they are themselves. They also go through a stage when they want to keep things to themselves. This is a normal part of teenage development.

Parents will be more able to provide help if they show that their anxiety is under control. It is so important to try and take a neutral position, as far as this is possible.

Here are some suggestions:

Acknowledging their distress

Find a way of letting your teenager know that you are aware of their distress, and that you want to help. However, it is important to avoid any words that can add to the teenager’s sense of guilt.

It is also important to avoid any wording that implies that you understand how they are feeling. Teenagers hate that, as they say it is patronizing. The usual response is: “You can’t understand me”.

So, what words to use?  

My heart goes out to you”.

“I feel so sympathetic”.

“I can see this is very hard for you”.

“I want to help, if I can”.

Reassurance

This is about letting the young person know that you won’t be shocked, frightened or damaged by their thoughts and feelings. One of the fears that young people may struggle with is the idea that their problems will have a terrible effect on you, the parent.

Somehow you have to find a way of letting the teenager know that, however shameful or frightening their thoughts, you are strong enough to cope. However bad it is, you can bear it, and you will try and help.

Being there for them

Another important message is that you will be there for them. They need to know that you love them, and that no matter what happens, you will do your very utmost to help. Teenagers need to know that you will stick with them, and you won’t reject them because of their distress.

If is possible, think about actions that will let the young person know you are wanting to offer support. Could you make their favourite food? Could you give them more responsibility in the home? Could you get out old family photos to emphasize good experiences that you have had in the past?  Could you play games with them that they would enjoy? Being available is the most important message.

Things it is best not to say

If at all possible, try to avoid begging or pleading with the young person. Try not to lecture. Try not to criticize. Try not to judge the teenager’s behavior.

Why do I say this?

Because all these approaches represent your views, and your agenda. At this time the teenager cannot cope with your agenda. The only way to open up communication is to find a way into their own agenda. And to show that you will be really, really listening to them.

Of course, this is not to say they will talk. But you can be sure they won’t talk if you plead, judge or criticize.

The role of the school

Although schools are closed at this time, many parents will have a contact within the school system who may be able to give advice. This may be a Head of Year, a pastoral lead, or a Head of Well Being. Schools vary in their support structures, but most will have some way of providing a link to helping services. Some may also offer telephone guidance for parents on the best steps to take if one of their students is showing mental health problems.

The very worst thoughts

The possibility of suicide is the worst fear of any parent. There are many myths about what to do and what not to do if you worry about this. It is also of course incredibly hard for any parent to open up this topic.

However, there are ways of showing that you won’t be shocked, and of showing that there are ways to get help if this is something the young person is struggling with. You might say something like:.

“I know people who are in distress sometimes do think about death, about ending it all. If you do. have thoughts like that, there are people you can talk to. You may not be able to talk to me, but there are others who will listen and try to help you”.

This does two things. It acknowledges the distress. It also shows that you are not frightened by the distress the young person is experiencing.

What next?

You will notice I have mentioned talking a lot. Since it may be difficult to get professional help at this time, finding a way to encourage your teenager to talk is something you may want to try.

The first thing to note is that they may not be able, or not want, to talk to you. However, if they can do so, that will be a good thing. So, you can try, and keep trying. If the first or second attempt does not work, just make it clear that you are always going to be available to listen.

Here are some things you might want to say.

“However hard it is, talking about your thoughts and feelings will help you.”

“ I know it’s difficult, but it is worth having a go”. “Putting your thoughts and feelings into words really will help you.”

“You may feel ashamed, or worried about talking.”

“It may be hard for you to talk to me, but perhaps we can find someone else you can talk to.”

If they can’t talk, don’t want to talk, or say it is a waste of time

If this is the case, here are some other options.

Perhaps your teenager might be able to send you a text or email? Or message you in some way about their feelings?

If this is not appropriate, you might want to suggest simply writing down thoughts or feelings. This might be a good start. Sometimes it is helpful to get ideas out of your head and onto a piece of paper.

If none of that is possible another option is to try and find someone in your family network who might be a possible listener. If there is no one like that, then perhaps someone who is known to the young person in your social network.

What to say when you don’t know what to say

Because of the situation we are all in, it may be hard to know what to say when your teenager is clearly distressed. Keep in mind that you don’t have to say anything. In a difficult situation we often feel that we have to say something, we have to respond. In fact, just being there, being available to listen may be all that is needed.

Social media

There has been a lot of publicity about the negative effects of certain websites on the mental health of teenagers. Fears have been expressed that some sites encourage harmful behavior such as self-harm or anorexia. However, there is another side to this. Research has shown that, for some, the on-line world does provide support and reassurance. This is not true for everyone. But there are certainly those for whom social media enables them to get in touch with others who are helpful to them. The lesson for parents is that not all social media is harmful. If at all possible, try and keep an eye on what your teenager is doing online. Don’t be afraid to ask about this. The more you can keep the conversation going about what your teenager is doing online the better.

Talking and listening might not be enough

This will depend on the nature of the distress that is being experienced by the young person. For some circumstances talking will not be enough. You may want to know how to manage behavior that appears destructive or damaging to other people.

Firstly, it is essential for you to be able to set boundaries in relation to behavior that is harmful to your teenager or to others in the family. If you believe these boundaries are being crossed then you must act. This is the time to seek help from the emergency services. You can also call the helplines detailed at the end of the blog.

Secondly, there may be things you can do to keep people in the family safe. Identify any potentially harmful substances in the house, or any knives or weapons. Give some thought to the domestic arrangements around you. Ask yourself if there are things you can do to reduce the risk of harm to any members of your family.

More from Dr John Coleman

Read more on this blog, including available support and a quiz to get you talking.

Read more in the series

Read other guest blogs from Dr John Coleman in this special series during the current pandemic.

Listen to the podcast

Listen to the Parenting NI Podcast in conversation with Dr Coleman about teenagers and the pandemic.

Get more support

If you are in need of further support, contact Parenting NI for free on 0808 8010 722.

Guest Blog: Parents and teenagers at a time of Coronavirus

We have a special guest series of blogs from Dr John Coleman on parenting teenagers during the COVID-19 pandemic. 

The first of the series will look at the general challenges families are facing at the moment and explore some of the emotions teenagers may be feeling.

Being stuck at home for weeks on end will be a huge test for all families. Even if parents and young people get on reasonably well, there will be many problems that arise because of being in the house or flat day after day.

Space

However small or cramped your home, try and find a space for a young person to feel that they can own. If they have their own bedroom, allow them more freedom than might be the case in normal circumstances.

Time – routines

One way to manage anxiety is to create daily routines. This is true for us all, but especially for teenagers. Do think through with your teenager how a daily routine can be created. This also applies to night-times of course.

A structure to the day

It is sometimes assumed that teenagers do not need structure. This is incorrect. In fact, a structure set by adults makes young people feel safe and cared for. Teenagers may argue against it, they may even say they hate it. But a major role for parents is to create boundaries and structure for teenagers. They need it.

Screen time

The simplest thing to say about this is – do not worry about screen time in these circumstances. We are all living through the on-line world. Teenagers need all the contact they can get with their friendship network. Also of course school work is now being delivered on-line. The digital world is a life-line.

Social media

The same goes for social media. What we say in normal times is true now. Do talk with your teenager about what they are doing on-line. Open communication is important. If you are worried about how much they are gaming, for example, do discuss this with them. Parents should keep an eye open, but also allow more freedom than would be the case in normal times.

Eating and sleeping

Things like eating and sleeping are often markers of how young people are coping. It is good for parents to be alert to how these things might have changed under these new circumstances. Don’t be afraid to discuss health issues with your teenager. Talking about such matters shows the young person that you care about them and their welfare.

Making sense of teenagers’ emotions

It is clear that teenagers are having a rough deal. Most young people will have lost all the usual structures. This experience is tough for them. Their expectations of what would be happening this spring and summer have been blown out of the water.

Feeling cheated

Although it may strange to some adults, it will be common for young people to feel that they have been cheated out of important experiences that they were owed. They may be missing the last term at school, or even the last part of their university education. They have also been separated from face-to-face experiences with their friendship groups. If you are young, these experiences loom very large in your world.

Feeling angry

Because of this, many will feel angry. Even if they recognize that it is no one’s fault, angry feelings can be over-whelming for teenagers. It can feel extremely unfair for this to have happened to them and their friends. It may be easier for adults to see the larger picture. Adults can recognize that this will be over at some time in the future. For teenagers, however, this will seem like the whole of their life that has been taken away from them.

Feeling anxious

There is also the question of worry and anxiety. Will my parents stay safe?  What about my grandparents? Am I safe from the virus?  Of course, adults will have these feelings too. Adults will worry about elderly parents, or have fears for their own health. However, the emotions of young people may be harder for them to cope with.

Teenagers and emotion

Why is it harder for teenagers to manage their emotions?

One reason is that at this age the structures in the brain that process and manage emotions are still changing and developing. These structures are not yet completely mature. Also, hormones play a part in helping us manage our feelings. The hormone balance for teenagers is more variable than it is for adults.

It is also important to recognize that young people will have experienced a real loss at this time. This is part of their life that they will never get back. It is very tough, especially at a time when they are changing and maturing. Adults will struggle with many challenges at this time. It is just important to recognize that the challenges for teenagers may not be quite the same as those for adults.

More from Dr John Coleman

Read more on this blog, including tips for parents and teenagers and a quiz to get you talking.

Listen to the podcast

Listen to the Parenting NI Podcast in conversation with Dr Coleman about teenagers and the pandemic.

Understanding Teen Behaviour Workshop Portadown

Location: Portadown Town Hall

Tickets on sale: https://utbportadown.eventbrite.co.uk

This workshop aims to support parents to understand the changes teenagers experience and how this can impact on behaviour.

The teenage years can be particularly challenging for parents to navigate. This workshop will:

  • Explore your role as a parent of a teenager
  • Understand the changes that teenagers experience
  • Explore typical teen behaviour
  • Understand how to handle challenging situations

Tickets

Odyssey, Parenting Your Teen Newtownards

Sound familiar? We can help!

The FREE Odyssey, Parenting Your Teen Programme will be running in Newtownards from 30th January 2020!

Duration: 8 week programme – every Thursday from the 30th January for 2 hours each evening
Aim: To improve the parent/adolescent relationship

The teenage years can be notoriously challenging but this programme can help you navigate your way through the reality of parenting teenagers.

The programme covers a range of topics and promotes the Authoritative Parenting style, which has been proven to be most effective. Odyssey, Parenting Your Teen is an evidence based programme and has been found to improve outcomes for parents, children and the while family. 

Odyssey Parenting Your Teen Topics

Call us now on 0808 8010 722 to register.

Freephone number currently available Monday – Thursday 9:30 am – 3:30 pm and Friday 9:30 am – 12:30 pm. 

This programme is being delivered free to parents thanks to funding from the Public Health Agency.

Odyssey, Parenting Your Teen Newtownabbey

Sound familiar? We can help!

The FREE Odyssey, Parenting Your Teen Programme will be running in Newtownabbey from 30th January 2020!

Duration: 8 week programme – every Thursday from the 30th January for 2 hours each evening
Aim: To improve the parent/adolescent relationship

The teenage years can be notoriously challenging but this programme can help you navigate your way through the reality of parenting teenagers.

The programme covers a range of topics and promotes the Authoritative Parenting style, which has been proven to be most effective. Odyssey, Parenting Your Teen is an evidence based programme and has been found to improve outcomes for parents, children and the while family. 

Odyssey Parenting Your Teen Topics

Call us now on 0808 8010 722 to register.

Freephone number currently available Monday – Thursday 9:30 am – 3:30 pm and Friday 9:30 am – 12:30 pm. 

This programme is being delivered free to parents thanks to funding from the Public Health Agency.