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Sue Powers, BS, MC Licensed Professional Counselor  

"In no order of things is adolescence the simple time of life" (Jean E. Stewart)

What we need to know about adolescents (in case we don't remember):

Adolescents feel like they will live forever and that they know EVERYTHING.  They constantly seek change to find their own identity.  Their thoughts are idealistic and abstract rather than rational and realistic.  They have a preoccupation with body and self-image and believe that they are so unique than no one else can understand their true feelings.  Adolescents believe that others are as preoccupied with them as they are with themselves. 

While many adults find these characteristics distasteful and sometimes difficult, the adolescent self-centered orientation is a normal and necessary phase of human development.  Although most adolescents will deny this, they yearn for parental understanding and approval.

Facts about adolescents:

•  Today's adolescents live in a less stable, more stressful environment than decades ago with: higher divorce rates, increased family mobility, pressure from society to perform and look good, and easier access to drugs and alcohol.
•  Prolonged or intense stress can cause depression and/or anxiety in adolescents.
•  Stress can manifest from: family conflict and instability, divorce, any type of abuse, poor body/self image resulting in low self-esteem, underdeveloped social, relational or academic skills, low self-confidence, and peer pressure.
•  Severe cases of anxiety and depression can lead to suicide, which account for 15% of adolescent deaths.

Helpful hints for supporting adolescents:

•  Create a focused and uninterrupted time to share.  Find a pleasurable activity that you both can participate in and enjoy.
•  Reach out and connect.  Really listen to and acknowledge their feelings, concerns and fears without judgment.
•  Help them focus on what's really bothering them.  Be patient; in a non-threatening environment, they will talk.
•  Explore for and help them identify and change negative self-talk.  Encourage positive affirmations such as "I can do this" and "I'm OK just the way I am."
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