How do I handle a teenager who is a "loner?"
What are the natural consequences for an 18-year-old who really doesn't like to go anywhere and would rather be sent off alone? - Diana
Dr. Cline’s Answer:
As teenagers emancipate themselves from the family, they often like to be alone and prefer not to go to family gatherings, et cetera. However, a teenager who constantly isolates himself from the family while giving off negative or nasty vibrations is not normal. In such cases the teen should be evaluated by a professional. Counseling often helps. Teenagers who are either angry and/or depressed tend to over- isolate themselves.
If this is not an extreme situation, then it is important to remember that when we ask a child to leave our environment, it is irrelevant whether or not the child appreciates the request. If a teen is simply not fun to be around then, using the Good Neighbor Policy, we simply don't encourage that person to be in our space. For example: When we don't invite a nasty neighbor to our party, it is irrelevant whether or not the neighbor feels bad about that. The important thing is that we have more enjoyment without that neighbor.
When children and parents have had a basically loving relationship, things generally work out well in the long run even when the teenage years are a little rough. Finally, it may be helpful to simply explore the issue with your teen:
"Pal, we miss you when you are up in your room. If there are things that we could do or behave differently in a way that would lead you to be happier in our presence, we would certainly like hearing your thoughts. Leaders tend to be people who talk about what bugs them and to work the issues through in a thoughtful way. I always felt you could be that type of person. I think it would be kind of a waste if you ever became the type of person who held things in, couldn't get them out, and went around mad. I hope that doesn't happen to you.”
When a teenager has a chronic medical condition, depression is common. Teenagers aren’t always easy to talk with but there are micro-seconds of opportunity to discuss what might be up. Chapter 7 of Parenting Children with Health Issues presents a model for discussing difficult issues with children such as depression, negative prognosis/statistics and impending death. Click here to read a press release which shows the model.
Posted 4/14/07 See disclaimer at the bottom of this page.
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