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How we feel about self-harm, effects how we respond.

  One of the issues I work with frequently with teenagers is self-harm. Self-harm can feel complex and overwhelming to parents and school staff who see it as a destructive behaviour. It is extremely distressing for the young person and also for the parent that feel powerless to stop it. It is destructive in its nature but is also a coping strategy to regulate feelings that feel powerful and overwhelming. When I worked in a school counselling team, school staff used to describe it as attention-seeking, but in fact, it is attention needing. What do I mean by this? The teenager is trying to understand and regulate these difficult emotions and is seeking to connect. What self-harm provides is a frequent return to a regulated state that the person has ultimate control over. Many young people report that it feels like a release of tension and agitation, that the tension release is freeing. In counselling and other arenas such as a supportive conversation at home, the teenager needs t
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Ideas on Self-esteem feedback for your teenage boys

  Things could be hurting over time for your teenage boy and you may never know. Anyone who has different sex children reports feeling at a loss in navigating the differences when it comes to teenage years. It is true that there is a crisis in masculinity for teenage boys. They are expected to be sensitive, but not the group p***y. They are expected to be persistent but not overbearing. Caring but not needy. The language used by teenagers blurs these things and words that don’t suit a person’s characteristics are banded about and may have more sticking power than they should do. If we model empathy and sincerity, we have a greater chance of our boys feeling comfortable displaying these qualities. You could express things that your teenager may not have considered about themselves but when said rings true for them. Below is a list of words that have nothing to do with image or how someone looks and everything to do with inner qualities. When you notice one of these qualities bei

Why do the arguments escalate – emotional language is part of the reason, here is an alternative.

  There are three aspects that lead to us using emotive language and catastrophising with our teens…Worry, panic and anger. It is hard not to worry, worry is the ‘digital age’ parent default mode. Of course, parents have always worried about their children through the generations, but not to this level. It seems to permeate through our lives, as the mental health crisis grows within the child and adolescent population it makes sense that it travels upwards to the parents.   We are anxious and frustrated at being anxious, this leads to a less-than-ideal way of responding. We all do it. We find ourselves reflecting on the confrontation later and wishing we had responded differently and certainly chosen our words and tone for the better. Research suggests that mothers exhibit more negative affect in terms of angry response with girls, whereas with boys, mothers exhibited more negative affect in terms of outward expression of anxiety, leading to panic. I have spoken before abou

10 things to lighten the load for your teenager during this pandemic.

  "Britain is sleepwalking into a mental health crisis as the government struggles to deal with the monumental effects of the Covid-19 pandemic.   Health experts and charities have told the Observer the coming winter will devastate the mental wellbeing of the nation as lockdown uncertainty, fear, isolation and loneliness are exacerbated by the colder and darker months ahead" That was the headline yesterday in the Guardian newspaper warning that 1.5 million children will need mental health support during this pandemic. What are we to do with longer waiting times and higher thresholds for the children needing support? I have thought about launching a support forum facilitated by myself (a dedicated adolescent BACP therapist) through zoom. Would this work? I would like to know your thoughts. Separate to this I wanted to suggest some small daily things that might be helpful for teenagers to stave off the low mood and anxiety, these are not therapy related but are small ch

To all the burnt-out mums, who’ve already done nearly 17 weeks at home. You need to do the following!

“Can you drop me off at …” “I’m hungry, why have we not got any ham” “where are the trainer socks” “what’s wrong with the internet, Mum can you reset the box” I keep reading lots of news articles about children’s mental health during the COVID pandemic, these articles are very rightly pointing out that our children are struggling during the lockdown. They are highlighting the very real danger of some children at home in abusive families. These articles are very important, but what is also important is highlighting the ever-increasing toll on parents, the parents that are holding their own worry about the virus, while trying to care for their children as well. The children that have additional needs, the weed smokers, the depressed teenager, the lonely teenager, the children going through a divorce, the teenage girl with an eating disorder etc. This pandemic is hard and takes 40% of your thought process without the above issues. WE have now done the equivalent of nearly 3 su

I only want to advise about one thing during this pandemic…This one thing is fundamental and effective

I only want to advise about one thing during this pandemic…I have refrained from posting about routine or helping your teen with anxiety, staying calm or being active outdoors. There is too much of this on Facebook and the internet generally. You see, the things mentioned above and also the other topics addressed by parenting blogs are all fundamentally supported/helped/improved by decent sleep quality. Get better sleep = feel more energetic Get better sleep = anxiety is lessened Get better sleep = make better food choices Get better sleep = better focus, stay on task Get better sleep = more patient Get better sleep = more creative WHO DOESN’T WANT THE ABOVE BENEFITS DURING THIS PANDEMIC? How can we deal with big emotions and close contact in the house when we are at the very end of our tether? We can’t, we have to feel robust as much as we can, and for that, you need to plan for what is effective. There used to be a culture of ‘I can survive on 6 hours s

A.S.M.R - an effective relaxation resource that can help anxious teenagers. The tabloids sometimes portray it wrong.

When A.S.M.R first became popular on the internet, the press choice to sexualise it with descriptions such as brain-gasm within sexual language. This resulted in parents thinking it was maybe risky and weird. Lots of teenage clients I have seen over time report using it as a relaxation resource during times of increased stress and anxiety such as exams or returning to school after prolonged periods away such as holidays or illness. It doesn’t work for everyone, but if it does work for you it seems to be a game-changer in regards to sleep. I don’t fully understand when watching it how it can induce sensory relaxation and if I’m honest I find the whispering very irritating, but it works for my daughter and below are a few paragraphs written by her explaining what it is and the benefits she has felt when using this valuable resource. “ASMR (autonomous sensory meridian response) videos are something I watch every night before I go to sleep or when I’m anxious and dysr

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