Suggestions For Being With Grieving Teens

1. Understand normal teen development issues and the grieving process in order to not be making situations more complicated than need be and to be aware of danger signs.

2. Remember our intense feelings pass and won’t destroy us. Teens often have not learned this yet and find it reassuring.

3. Listen without judging. Teens need support and need to feel heard. This may allow them to be more in touch with their softer feelings and express them – which may decrease their fear, frustration and anger.

4. Be aware of the dangers of trying to control teens.  The more they feel parents are trying to protect or control them, the more they will struggle for their independence.

5. By being aware of their own needs and losses, parents can avoid distorting their relationships with their teens. Otherwise parents risk either making teens into mini-adults by expecting too much of them or else try to keep them young.

6. Parents can be more patient by recalling how they were at their teens age.

7. Expect a dip in academic performance. Ease up.  For example, be patient with your collegiate expectations while the teen is more appropriately concerned with memories of the past and coping day to day.

8. Respect their need for privacy. They need a place they can call their own. Disrespect of their privacy is seen as a major threat to their independence.

9. Understand how teens think more abstractly in order to be there for their philosophical discussions should they occur. Avoid undue upset or harsh reactions to weird philosophies they may try on or explore.

10. When you can, add perspective to the teems urgent discussions. Important may not be urgent.

11. Give permission not to grieve all the time. Teens need to have good times with their friends and have respite from their grief.

12. Acknowledge there are many good ways to grieve. These include different styles and timing. Family members rarely all grieve the same way. Much unnecessary trouble is avoided when our differences are accepted.

13. Hopelessness, anger not constructively expressed, impulsiveness, isolation, or helplessness – any of these persisting over time or becoming exaggerated  are cues that counseling would be recommended.

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