If your own teenage children seem to alternately delight and disappoint you, if they rarely raise their eyes from their phones and only communicate in grunts, relax, everything is normal. By all means get irritated and strive to manage their yoyo emotions more harmoniously, you probably won't get the results you'd ideally like, but nobody does.
I love working with teenagers and young people in general and I've spent most summers since 2004 working with The Ellen MacArthur Cancer trust as variously the crew medic /mate/ 'boat mum'. The young people I work with are in recovery from Cancer - the same kind of teenagers I spent so many years working with in the NHS.
As a teenager pushing boundaries to establish independence, the last people you will listen is your parents. It takes years to realise that your parents don't treat you like an adult because, to them, you will always be their child. Asking for their help is really hard, You'll ask pretty much anyone else first. Think back for a moment to your own teenage years. Recognise any similarities? Was it all calm and relaxed? Why should your teenager be any different?
What is it about teenagers?
I was very much a 'problem' teenager myself and can still remember the rows, sulking, door slamming and the emotional and hormonal roller coaster that being a teenager can be. I vividly remember feeling and, in my eyes, looking like a grown up yet still being treated like a child. I find it easy to talk to teenagers without trying to come across as trying to be 'cool' or 'down with the kids'.
Whether you were a model teenager or the 'teenager from hell', it might help to put things in perspective. You probably lived in a world where you could escape peer pressure by not answering the house phone, now kids have smartphones, apps and texts constantly striving for attention and all pushing somebody else's agenda. It's not the whole story, but the level of exposure to constant scrutiny that teenagers face today, is just relentless. Its hard to tune out from online 'friends' and distinguish these from real friends.
"Why is everyone else living the perfect life? How do I find the best x or y or z? What will people think about me?"
As a parent in most of these areas it is really hard for you to help, that's because your teenager is desperate to become 'themselves' but not quite sure what that is and worried about choices an every area of their life.
When it all explodes into tantrums and sulks often they won't ask for, and don't think you can, help.
It's often easier for anyone who is not their parent to gain rapport with a teenager.
With a career based on forming relationships of trust in a very short time with both parents and their children, the techniques come with practice.
That's why I need to talk with both you and your teenager to establish how well I can form that relationship. Most of the time I'm effectively taking on both of you as people with whon I have to form a relationship and I also neeed for professional purposes to be able to ensure that the boundaries in these relationships are properly established and to whom my duties of confidentiality must apply. it can be a tough call but I have spent a long time doing this.
I'm not my Teenage Clients parent - there is no history and no pre expectation - the young person can take me as they find me and I do the same with them. I take each teenager as they are without judging or criticising, my role is to listen and to help them.