Effective Communication Between Parents And Adolescents: Outpatient Services in Baton Rouge Can Help

December 30, 2015
It has become increasingly clear that one area of need for mental health and wellness in Baton Rouge lies within the difficulty to navigate the domain of parent-adolescent relationships. As technology and the influence of social media expand at a staggering rate, communication between parents and children seems to fall between two extremes: a hands-off, distant approach versus over-involved “helicopter-type” parenting. With some intentional effort, it is possible to come to a more balanced, less stressful form of interaction and connection. There are a few important guidelines to begin exploring ways to foster effective communication and create a more rewarding relationship with your teenager. If you find that your family may need more in-depth assistance,  Jefferson Oaks Behavioral Health offers adolescent and adult outpatient services in Baton Rouge. Adolescent Intensive Outpatient Treatment Programs at Jefferson Oaks

Creating a Safe Space for Exploration

One of the most important building blocks in intimate relationships is providing emotional support, and this process is most crucial in the adolescent stage of development. To illustrate, let’s examine the work of Erik Erikson, an influential psychoanalyst who broke down human development into 8 different stages across the lifespan. He characterized adolescence as a period from ages 12-18 where individuals are engaged in a struggle between what he termed “Identity vs. Role Confusion.” Essentially, this defines the teenage years as a time for each of us to develop our concept of who we are – what passions, ideals, and values define us. This is, by nature, a time of increased stress and discomfort, and although it may be difficult for an adolescent to verbalize, it is important to show them you care about what is happening in their world. For some families, getting the help of outpatient services in Baton Rouge from a behavioral health care provider could prove to be the best solution to improve understanding between parents and teens. In addition, here are some practical ways to get involved: Practice Healthy Communication Daily
  • Ask questions about your teen’s interests, friends, and schoolwork. Don’t take for granted that they will come to you with what’s important. Practice not overwhelming or hovering.
  • Respond in a nonjudgmental and accepting manner when appropriate. Remember, during this time, teenagers are trying on many different hats…this is healthy! If it does not affect their safety or violate a family rule/boundary, then consider surprising your teen with a supportive stance on new behaviors and interests.
For example, if your teen is exploring a new political affiliation, religion or spiritual practice, or health practice (vegetarianism, veganism, yoga, etc), your support and interest may make the difference between them opening up versus shutting down about other things that are happening in their life. Maintain Healthy Boundaries
  • Although it’s important to be engaged, parents must be open about what’s okay and not okay. As the parent, you have the final say and must enforce rules for safety and the specific values of your family, be it honesty, trust, communication, etc. Have family discussions on boundaries and rules and be open about consequences for unhealthy behavior.
  • Take a step back if needed. Remember, this is a time for adolescents to explore how they fit into the world – socially, occupationally, sexually, etc. To do this successfully, it takes a balance of space and support. Although it’s tempting to hover during this time, for adolescents to thrive, they need to begin developing freedom of choice.
suicidal thoughts help northshore outpatient services If finding this balance sounds challenging, you’re not alone! This is something that takes effort and practice to execute. If you find yourself struggling, it may be helpful to explore how outpatient services in Baton Rouge, such as those offered at Jefferson Oaks Behavioral Health, can help!  Within our adolescent and adult intensive outpatient programs, we work from a family systems approach to help decrease discord and increase healthy communication.