Adolescence is a critical life stage. In fact, during ages 11-20, the foundation for who your child will become is laid out. It is your responsibility as a parent to guide your teen through the turbulent tides of adolescence and guide them onto the shores of happy adulthood. Here are ways that you can support your adolescent through the challenging teen years and help them become happy productive adults.
Be there– Teens may act like they don’t need you, but they really do. Create space for honest non-judgmental conversations. Take time to listen to them and get to know them properly. This will increase the trust in your relationship, and they’re less likely to rebel against the good advice that you give. Listening without lecturing can be challenging, especially when they are making decisions you do not agree with, however, teens tend to shut down as soon as the lecturing starts, hearing essentially nothing more. If you cannot listen with an open heart, make sure to find them someone who can.
Reduce the rules – Rules are great but set them only when necessary. Your home shouldn’t resemble a military boot camp. Enforce the rules with respect and always make sure your teen realizes the consequences of different actions. Prioritize what is the most important values you are teaching and what is the purpose behind your rules.
Set expectations– Help your teen be his/her best self. Be clear about what you expect from your teens such as good grades, acceptable behavior, tidiness, and the type of friends they keep. By setting appropriate expectations, you’re helping your teen become more responsible. However be patient with your teen and help them learn how to reach your expectations. They haven’t been on the planet as long as you and may not know how to reach these goals. Or even how to ask for help.
Walk the talk– You’re the first example of an adult that your teen sees, therefore you need to set a good example for your teens and embody the kind of adult you want them to become. Remember that your teen is always watching, so adopt positive habits. When you make mistakes, own them. When you aren’t perfect, admit that. Be human so they feel they can as well.
Encourage self-care– Adolescence is filled with a lot of pressure and activities, which is why you need to inculcate the value of a good diet, less screen time, exercise, mental health and getting proper sleep in your teen. Teach them to always put themselves first. Figure out what is self-care for them. What are their interests? What do they enjoy? Time to be ourselves is excellent self-care.
Affirm them constantly– Always tell your teenagers they’re amazing. This helps them develop confidence in themselves, which is crucial because as they grow older, self-doubt begins to creep in, and hearing positive affirmations from you will go a long way in developing their self-worth. And don’t forget to tell them how much you love them, how important they are to you and this world and how grateful you are that they are in your life. Appreciate them!
Expand their world- Adolescence is a great time for broadening horizons. Encourage your teen to explore all their interests, take part in activities they’re curious about, visit new places and gain new experience. Your teen will benefit immensely from exposure to all these different ideas, places and cultures and grow into a well-rounded adult who’s equipped to tackle challenges. Who knows, they may actually teach you a thing or two as well.
If you could use some help talking with your teenager, consider family therapy. A therapist can facilitate effective communication and offer tools that will help your teen become the adult they are meant to be.
If you’d like to explore therapy, please be in touch. I’d be happy to discuss how I might be able to help you.