Maybe your child is showing signs of depression. Maybe they are struggling to find meaning in their life, feel bogged down with school work and school drama, and ultimately just feel sort of empty inside.
Please know how common this is. The majority of my teenagers are struggling with their identity and their ability to find themselves; what they like, want, and need.
Typically, we ask questions like ‘why do you feel that way?’, ‘how can I help?’, ‘what’s bothering you?’, or ‘Come on, lets do something to cheer you up.’ Most of the time, we hit a brick wall. Teen’s especially don’t like to talk about their feelings, they are still learning what they are feeling, trying to make sense of it, and understand it. Children are even harder to get to talk about their emotions due to not fully having the ability to experience abstract thinking.
I want to share with you the number one question I ask clients.
The miracle question.
“If you could wake up tomorrow morning and your life be exactly how you want it to be, what would things look like (sound like, feel like, etc)?”
This question, the miracle question, is the main question that is used in Solution-Focused-Brief Therapy, which is a fancy term for… solving problems quickly.
This question is extremely powerful and easy to use. Not only are you not directly asking how they are feeling (which they are resistant to answering anyways), you are also not being too intrusive however you are gaining immense detail and insight.
Have them describe their day from the second they wake up until they fall asleep. What does the house look like? Who is with you? What are you eating? Seeing? Experiencing? Do you have different friends? Maybe you aren’t in school at all, so what would you be doing then? Ask as many details as possible when asking the miracle question.
This question reveals what they wish their life could look like, what they may be experiencing, and what they feel is lacking. This can give you, the parent, the insight into helping the child/teen gain more control over their life, increasing self esteem and mood.
Typically, I don’t have clients answer with outrageous requests or visions. Many times I hear simple changes such as ‘I would be listening to music in the morning’ or ‘I would have a new friend group.’ Something like ‘having a new friend group’ really allows for you to get new understanding on your teen’s current life. Maybe she is experiencing bullying at school or is surrounded by gossiping people. Maybe she feels distracted at school and merely needs more time to take her test. Maybe she will tell you ‘If I could wake up tomorrow and things be different, I would be able to focus at school, have more friends, and not get bullied.’ Hello! This is immense insight into your child’s current life. Utilize this new knowledge and use this to facilitate conversation and help make changes.
Give the question a try and be sure to ask detailed questions, once you have conversed about the details, help your child/teen find ways to make small changes in their life to begin implementing some of these wants and needs.