Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist, MFT 43464
16 Years of Creative Solutions
Call to schedule
Ages 9 – 16; the “tween” years and adolescence
Like many parents, you probably are yearning for more cooperation, more love from your child, more approbation from your spouse, more support in setting limits, and let’s face it: to see more happiness in your child.
The “tween” years are the ideal time to bridge the distance between parent and child before your child becomes a teenager looking for love in all the wrong places. I work with both the young person and the family to facilitate conversations and dialogues that need to happen.
Rebelliousness (All ages)
Has every day become a battle of wills, defiance, and a lack of reciprocity? Do you hear criticism from those around you on how to deal with your kids? You may feel angry and unsupported by others; all and all exhausted.
Are you scared by your kid’s self-destructiveness, shocked at a kid’s rebelliousness, or see your kid is slipping away? Many parents during this phase are shocked that this would have happened, and feel unequipped and unprepared for the challenges their teens are presenting. Perhaps your marriage is suffering too.
Counseling aims to help you and your kid to be loving and connected again, to feel that you can protect him/her, to see your kid’s energy channeled in a positive direction, and to feel that you and your spouse are working together to solve this problem.
Lack of motivation
Does it seem like the only way to get your kids to get off the couch is to light a fire under it? All kidding aside, it can be very unrewarding to seem to put more energy and care into a kid’s goals than he does. You probably feel like you’ve tried it all before! We will sift through what may be inborn temperament traits and brain styles that contribute to his problem and where you may need to switch up your strategies with him. You can bring out the best in each other!
Fearful, shy, anxious children
To see your kid be rejected or miss out on social events and friendships is disappointing to say the least. But dealing with his repeated refusals, or the clinging and whining and persistent negativeness, can feel lonely from the parent’s point of view because of a lack of reciprocity.
If you are wondering why your child lacks confidence, whether something from the past did some damage, it may be that this is a part of your child’s temperament, that is; cautious and slow to warm up to things, introverted, or highly sensitive.
I too want to see your child have more confidence in herself, to open up to others more, and find a way to decrease over-dependence on mom.
Bullying and School Problems
Advice commonly given to kids who are bullied is to “ignore it” or talk to school authorities. Not only does this advice often backfire, it can actually fuel continued experiences of bullying! Middle school may be an especially agonizing stage where kids are most vulnerable to being excluded from cliques. It is important to watch for major behavior/ personality changes as indicators of depression and being at-risk for self-harm in this age group. I have worked quite a bit with young people who experience bullying in school; especially late elementary and middle school. In sessions, one on one with the young person, we practice effective ways to respond to bullies that empower and increase self-acceptance.
No one thinks it will be easy. But no one thought it would be this hard either!!! Adapting to change may take years, and in the meantime the bonding between parent and child suffers. I will help you guys talk to each other again, and balance competing needs within the family.
Co-parenting with your ex
There’s an old story in the Bible about two people fighting over a baby and they go to the law to settle the dispute. To resolve the conflict, King Solomon offers to split the baby in half. Things have not changed much in modern times where judges resolve the problem today with joint custody arrangements involving every other Tuesdays and every other Wednesdays and the third weekend of the even months.
Even if you cannot get along with your ex, or even stay in the same room together, coming to a therapist (separately if need be), can be a better, cheaper way to work things out. Better outcomes arise when each party has more than 5 minutes to present their needs and concerns, when the children are helped to adapt to very different family constellations, and co-parents are able to collaborate through someone who cares about everyone involved.
Tweens (Ages 9 - 13)
Rifts between parents and their kids often become apparent around age nine with the issues reaching a crisis in middle school. The parenting skills that worked for the early years need to be adapted to a growing, independent mind that challenges authority. You may feel bewildered by your own kids; challenging behaviors, resentment and fighting, or worries about a child’s depression, acting out, or anxiety. How a parent can establish a new relationship with their tween, without feeling like you’ve lost all control is a difficult task in some families. My goal is to support families in these changes to reconnect and find ways to bond. We hear helpful advice all the time about dealing with our kids, but implementing change is a different story!
If you and your child cannot connect to each other, no amount of “techniques” will succeed. Also, you may be wondering if sending a young person to individual therapy will help. I do see kids individually especially for anxiety, depression, and problems they are having at school like bullying and low self-esteem. For behavior problems though, my style is to work with both parent and young person, separately or together; because while therapy is short-term, your family relationships will endure a lifetime.
Teens (Ages 14 - 18)
Being a teenager is a wonderful snapshot in time of a human’s personality; full of opinions, new experiences, enthusiasm, and dreams and I am energized by working with young people. Yet, it can also be a vulnerable time; newly-emerging identities can lead to insecurities and poor choices. Typically, adolescence leads to crisis for parents and families as well. When working with teenagers, I employ a wide range of creative interventions; activities, art, games, guidance, bringing in important people in the teen’s life when appropriate, and collaborating with the family and/or school so that problems can be resolved effectively.
It is my heart’s calling to bring families together. In a combination of family sessions, parenting strategy sessions, and child therapy, my approach involves identifying temperaments, getting behaviors under control, coping and adapt to change, and connecting to bring back closeness and fun to your home.