My teen's got acne : Conflictual dialogue

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  • Keracnyl-my-teen-s-got-acne-conflictual-dialogue

My teen has acne. I've talked to them about it but it didn't go well.
They have pimples and are very unhappy about it, but won't let me help.

When their body changes, not always in a way they like, and they can't get rid of their acne, it often contradicts the ideal image that teens have of themselves. Young people have a deep-seated fear of how other people see them, judge them and possibly reject them. They would like to be loved and admired, but even they have trouble liking what they see in the mirror every day. They change, boys' voices break. They don't identify with their image any more.

French paediatrician and psychoanalyst Françoise Dolto refers to this as the lobster complex: a lobster sheds its baby shell in order to grow, and while the new shell is forming, is "naked" and exposed. Your child is going through a period of great mental and physical vulnerability, and their means of defence are all the more active! Adolescence is also a time when, in order to construct their own personality, teens often have to extract themselves from or even reject their family. The family cocoon can become oppressive. This is why it isn't always easy to establish a dialogue with your teenager, let alone give them advice! This time of their life makes them even more touchy and irritable.

Their experience of certain situations can be particularly painful for a teenager, even if it seems commonplace for an adult. This intense transition, marked by a mixture of strength, courage, suffering, shame, fear, a need to please and a desire to stand out from the crowd, has a perfectly rational explanation in the changes taking place in the teenage brain and the hormonal explosion.

Is your teen rejecting you? Being aggressive and impolite with you? Don't worry: your teen is neither badly brought up nor on the wrong track in life. They are simply going through a normal period of stress and opposition.
You may not be able to change the way they feel, but you do have a card up your sleeve, namely well-meaning support and active listening.

You talked to them about their acne but they got upset and refused to discuss it. What should you do?

Start by restoring your relationship and talking again.

Even if your teen rejects you, make no mistake: they need you. Don't take it personally and don't hold it against them. They're doing what they can with the way they feel! The most important thing you can do is to give them time and try to build a good relationship.

Take an interest in what interests them: their music, their video games, their friends, the YouTubers they follow, and so on. Put down your phone and share some quality time playing games with them (and if you don't like video games, just think of all the times you dragged them along to an expo they didn't want to see! Make an effort!), watching series together or listening to an album they like.

You can also organise weekly meet-ups where you take turns choosing what you'd like to share with the other person: a lunch, expo, concert, one-man show, whatever. Laughter will be your best ally for forging a more harmonious relationship conducive to sharing and trust.

Help restore their self-confidence and build up their self-esteem

Help them come to terms with their changing body! Encourage sporting outings. Why not ask them to run a few kilometres with you every Sunday? Or find a sporting challenge to do together that will involve training beforehand.
Doing sport not only releases built-up tension, it also boosts your self-image. You feel more comfortable with your body as you get fitter.

Your teen may even start enjoying being themself, rather than just enduring it. Massage might also help your teen feel happier and more comfortable about their body (but, to avoid embarrassment, have it done by a person of the same sex).

Share some thrills!

Teenagers are natural thrill-seekers. They like pushing to their limits with a rush of adrenaline. This is why they may start engaging in risky behaviours.
It's your role to these needs into account while setting clear limits and keeping it fun. It might be amusements parks, horror films, laser games... Take the opportunity to put your own emotions to the test and share some thrills with your child. They'll be pleased to see that you are getting out of your comfort zone for them. They'll appreciate the gesture.

Don't be afraid to talk about yourself.

Your teen is very likely to feel embarrassed about their acne and want to hide away from others. They might feel lonely and reluctant to talk about what they are going through and how they feel.
Tell them about your own teen years. Make the effort to remember how you felt about the changes in your body, acne, desire, mood swings, etc. Share the memories with your child, without either judging or playing down the way you felt at the time. Initiate a conversation about the subject by talking about yourself. Let your child ask you the questions that are bothering them, and share your own experiences. It will be another important step towards a new relationship and better communication.

Respect their need for silence, their need to be alone and sometimes even their aggressiveness.

Don't forget that this major transitional phase overturns all their bearings, generates a latent stress and exacerbates their sensitiveness and touchiness. If they want to be alone, it is largely to shield themselves from everything that vexes them. They need this time alone. You will have to learn to live with this and overlook what, in your eyes, light look and feel like a rejection. Hang on to the weekly get-togethers we suggested earlier to maintain a good relationship! 

When you're talking again and the moment seems right, offer to accompany them to see a dermatologist. Or, if your teen would rather go on their own, provide the name and address.

To conclude, as you will have gathered by now, your role will mainly be to restore a friendly dialogue while respecting your teen's silences, their secrets and their need to be alone sometimes, and to unobtrusively promote the areas they like and which show them at their best. What your teen really needs is to shine in other people's eyes, and that's where you can do your bit towards their self-accomplishment.
To cope with the trials of everyday life, your teen still needs you. That's why DUCRAY is by your side. Visit for expert advice and a range of dermatologist-approved and recommended skincare products.


How can I help my teen cope with acne ?