Guest post by Kimberly Beaman, LMHC
Oh, the teenage years. We all were teens once, but we forget what the experience was really like. Of what I can recall, it was a period of many emotions, at roller coaster speed. I don’t have teenage kids yet, but I have worked with many teens over the years as a licensed mental health counselor in Florida. I can tell you one thing: Teens are like sponges, eager to understand and absorb their own world and curious about other’s perceptions. Their brains are constantly taking in the sensory experience around them. Through meeting teens who have undergone major hardships or traumatic experiences, I have also learned that teenagers are resilient. They may not know their own resilience right off the bat, but they have the capacity to know.
What teens want more than anything is validation and to feel understood. This is why teens often respond to music. It’s the rhythm of their heart. The mood that the melody sets in songs speaks volumes. If it’s not music, it will be another form of art. Life is art. Art is life.
This is why I advise parents to collaboratively find or encourage your child to find the gifts of their soul. It’s okay if your teen has no clue what that gift(s) is yet. The idea is to be willing to experiment and to reflect, encourage, and validate along the journey of discovery. You can also seek support from a qualified therapist, with many types of therapies to choose from.
When I started my master’s degree counseling program, the word “validate” was unknown. We all naturally respond to other’s needs and validate them without knowing time and again. BUT, what is most important is the consistency of that validation.
Case in point… Teen is in a solemn mood (face withdrawn, barely speaking) and murmurs that he is “over it all.” Upon further inquiry, teen says “I have had it. I can’t deal with the arguments at home.” A validation would be to say reflectively, “You are over it,” or, “I hear that you are really upset.” After a validation, it may be appropriate to inquire further.
These communication skills are often addressed in counseling, so they can be practiced in day-to-day life. The goal is to be present and to allow your teenager to express him- or herself in a safe and effective way, given communication is open and empathic.
Validation is simply affirmation that a person, their feelings, or their opinions are valid or worthwhile (even if you don’t agree with them). Kids really want to be heard. You can be the person in their life that makes a difference.
Kimberly Beaman, LMHC
At a very young age. Kimberly was diagnosed with Dyslexia and ADD. Her determined mother used alternative teaching methods through music and tactile experiences to support her during the formative years. She went on to earn her BA in Psychology and MA in Counselor of Education; Community Mental Health. She is also a Licensed Mental Health Counselor and has worked with children of all ages, as well as adults. Kimberly thoroughly enjoyed additional experience as an Accessibility Consultant supporting people with accommodations at the University of Central Florida.
Kimberly’s passion for the Liberal Arts has led her to professional acting gigs, singing, songwriting and now the creation of Accessible Books for Children, LLC. Her main objective is to provide character based books that support young learners by creating an optimal learning experience through story and song. Kim is proud of her accomplishments and thankful for the experiences that have led her to fully appreciate her talents. She wants others to know that they can achieve their dreams, never to give up and to know they are not alone. Visit kimberlybeaman.com to learn more.