Episode 38: Helping Teens Establish Emotional Confidence

In this episode of The Family Couch, we talk with Mallory Grimste, a teen therapist, about teenagers and how to navigate life with them.  

We dive right in and discuss why teenagers are often looked at in a negative light.  Grimste talks about how sarcasm is often the teenage language.  She also feels that when teenagers are going through life changes and biochemistry changes, it affects their personality and outlook.  They often do not have the ability to see the long-term picture.  

Grimste works with parents in a few different ways.  With individual teen clients, she has quarterly check-in meetings that include the parents.  With group clients, she sends out a weekly newsletter that discusses the skill they learned in the group.  If the parents don’t know about what Grimste is teaching, it is difficult for them reinforce it at home.  She feels that parents are usually doing a pretty good job already at home.  She often reminds parents that it is not about “you,” but about how the teenager is not feeling good.  

We next discuss how Grimste helps teens to figure out how to express their emotions.  She feels that it is important for parents to know their boundaries for their own responses and emotional levels.  If they can regulate themselves, this is best for the teen.  Sometimes you need to take a break when emotions are running high.  She explains that people often forget to come back together to address problems after they take an emotional break.  Grimste tries to remind parents that as adults, we have a good amount of life experience and knowledge, so it is important to change the conversation to “Here’s what I do when I’m upset,” as opposed to telling the teen what to do.  

We talk about how to navigate the desire to protect teens.  When we love someone, we don’t want them to be sad or hurt.  We do things to protect ourselves–putting on our seatbelts, locking our doors for the evening, etc.  Grimste mentions that it is okay to feel uncomfortable emotion, as long as the emotions don’t spiral out of control.  Emotions are often a result of a poor decision that was made.  Grimste feels that teenagers don’t always have the realization that it is okay not to feel great all the time.  

We change gears and discuss how parents can really help their teenagers navigate their emotions.  Grimste explains that the two phrases she hears the most are, “I don’t know,” or, “I don’t care.”  With, “I don’t know,” Grimste says that most teens use that phrase because they just don’t want to discuss the topic at hand versus truly not knowing.  “I don’t care,” is usually used as a way to shut down the conversation.  Grimste will reflect back to the client and say, “That’s not what I asked,” and then get back to the topic at hand.  Grimste feels that kids often don’t want to talk about certain topics due to embarrassment, or because the teen is worried they will get in trouble or hurt their parents by saying how they really feel.  She explains that having the direct conversation with the teen is the best thing to do and that the more you do this, the more comfortable you’ll become.  This is why parents also need to learn emotional vocabulary, which they can find by seeking out their own counseling in many instances.  

Grimste then gives insight into how teens can become more aware of themselves in the digital world.  She feels that it ultimately comes down to healthy boundaries.  If the teen is making bad technology decisions, Grimste says to give real-life examples and educate the teen on the impact of what they are doing.  She feels that teenagers sometimes make bad technology-related choices as a result of wanting to be liked and connected.  Teenagers are going through a lot of identity changes and are trying to figure out who they will be as an adult.  They tend to rely on group-think mentality, wondering what their peers think.  Grimste feels that it is important as a parent to have the conversation with other kids, too, if they are together with your child and you are there.  Even if the kids do not acknowledge that they heard you, they are still hearing it and taking it in.  Grimste explains that being able to make the right choice that is tough and blame it on the parents’ rules is often helpful for teens.  

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GUEST BIO:

Mallory Grimste is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker who specializes in working with teens in her practice in Woodbridge, CT.  She helps anxious teens feel better and more comfortable with their emotions by showing them how to improve their self-esteem, get better connected to what they are feeling and thinking, or showing them how to effectively communicate their thoughts and feelings.  

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CONNECT WITH MALLORY GRIMSTE:

WEBSITE: https://www.mallorygrimste.com/

COURSE: https://www.mallorygrimste.com/survivingteens/

FACEBOOK: https://www.facebook.com/mallorygrimstelcsw

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