Children and Adolescents
When a flower doesn’t bloom you fix the environment in which it grows, not the flower.
–Alexander Den Heijer
Childhood and adolescence are especially important times in our lives that need special attention. As we are learning to live in the world around us, we are forming our identity to reflect our inner selves, and we are learning to form meaningful relationships with others. Certain behaviors, identities, family structures, events, traumas, etc., may cause a young person to feel isolated, abnormal, irritable, or confused, among many other things. During youth and adolescence, people are particularly susceptible to struggles and challenges but are also uniquely resilient and adaptive. Now is the time to give your child the basic tools for a fulfilling adulthood.
Get support as you support you child
Learn to hear their needs
Give them a safe space to talk
Teach by example
Normalize normal parts of the human experience.
Sexuality is a normal part of the lifespan
Children pick up on messages about their gender and sexuality from birth. How does a boy know how to be a boy or a girl know how to be a girl? How does someone learn to just “be” if they don’t feel like either of those labels fits? What does it mean to be in a relationship? What are love and sex? Even though children don’t have a mature, nuanced understanding of these questions, they are learning at every stage of development.
Start a new tradition if you need
Maybe you were raised in a household with conflicting views on sexuality, or you received scant sexuality education yourself. Sometimes the questions and identities children bring may be conflicting with parents’ and caregivers’ own values or their sense of “normal.” Maybe you are wondering if you are “normal.” If you feel like you need guidance either as a parent or a child, therapy, sexuality counseling, or education can be useful tools to help your family grow together.
Lead by example, start the conversation
Many parents or caregivers may disagree with their partners on issues pertaining to sexual development. Sometimes parents have a hard time objectively viewing their children, regardless of their age, as independent sexual beings, discovering their own identities. Learn to talk to your partner and your child about challenging topics relating to sexuality.
Growth always starts with discomfort
It can feel strange acknowledging and talking about the sexual development of children and adolescents. However, research shows that speaking with your kids about sex and helping them learn your values is a protective factor for them in the future. Kids who have parents who are open and honest with them grow to be better informed. In turn, they are better prepared to handle the situations they find themselves in as they get older. Give your children the education and compassion regarding their sexuality that you would have wanted for yourself as a child.
“Children must to be taught how to think, not what to think ”
– Margaret Mead
“Adolescents are not monsters. They are just people trying to learn how to make it among the adults in the world, who are probably not so sure themselves.”
– Virginia Satir
“The more healthy relationships a child has, the more likely he will be to recover from trauma and thrive. Relationships are the agents of change and the most powerful therapy is human love.”
– Bruce D Perry