11 Ways How Parents Can Help Their Teens
Some parents battle with the demands that parenting their child through the teenage years brings. Many give up in the face of increasing conflicts and leave their children to their own devices. Know this – You as a parent play an important part in your teen’s environment. Even though their attitude and behaviour might send a different message, they still need you for emotional support, safety and security. How you steer and persuade your teen will be crucial in building a healthy brain and navigating the ups and downs of this phase.
1. Be patient – the number one requirement for every parent. Teenagers can challenge even the calmest of parents. This is further compounded when you as a parent are faced with other pressures -work, relationships, other children, commitments, illnesses, and your teen can test your patience during these toughest times. You need to take a step back and understand that your child may have physiological reasons for behaving in a manner that is difficult to handle.
2. Communicate every single day with them. Take an interest in their life. Get involved without making them feel that you are imposing on them, as you have to balance their need for freedom and their dependence on you for support. Be present and ready to help whenever the need arises.
3. Be open and empathic. Put yourself in your teen’s shoes and try to remember the time when you were a teen and all you wanted was someone who would listen to your point of view. To avoid confrontation, it would be best to suggest options instead of giving orders.
4. Develop a relationship with your child and get them to feel comfortable approaching you for help on any issue. If your teen says “I don’t want to talk about it, leave me alone”, doesn’t mean you let it go. That is a reason to probe and make them know that you are not there to judge but to help, and this will result in an open and positive discussion.
5. Allow them to learn from their mistakes, as long as they are safe. Understand that they might do things differently than you would. Sensitize them to the consequences of certain behaviours, and how they could affect them and others and you might just shift their thought process.
6. Include structure in their day-to-day lives – time for studies and extracurricular activities, time for household chores, curfew time, family time, etc. Set rules, boundaries, and standards of behaviour. Discuss with them what is negotiable and what is not, and you will give your child a sense of consistency, predictability, safety, and belonging. Your teen might object to these, but know that this shows that you care for them and their well-being.
7. Issues of low self-esteem arising out of changes in their physical appearance should be addressed. Help them understand that their value and worth are not dependent on their looks but on the many innate capabilities that they possess. They should be encouraged to hone their skills, polish them and develop a pleasing personality.
8. Share an activity with your teen – be it playing a game or sport together, going for a walk, or exercising together, or it could be whatever your teen enjoys. This will foster the strengthening of bonds and promote a spirit of togetherness and friendship. It will result in the development of trust and gives your child the feeling of importance and the knowledge that you will be the pillar of support at all times.
9. Take an interest in your child’s social life and friend circle. Engage with your teen’s friends and parents to gain a deeper understanding of whom your child is hanging out with. This can often be comforting and at the same time can warn you about bad influencers. It will be wise to talk to your child about your concerns and initiate a dialogue. It will teach your child to be cautious when dealing with those “friends”, help them make better choices in friendships, and avoid toxic relationships that affect their esteem.
10. Also, make your teen understand that getting attached to one friend or a single group of friends can have negative outcomes. Sticking to just one person all the time is unhealthy as your child will not be able to gain any exposure to different thoughts, views, and experiences. Similarly, disturbances like quarrels or disagreements within that one group can affect your child deeply and you as a parent need to encourage the formation of diverse friendships. Introducing them to a sport, a book club, a class, or any volunteering activity which appeals to them can help them foster new relationships with people of varied interests and will be more rewarding.
11. Beware of their body language, they can show signs of struggling. If you notice concerning signs like changes in sleeping patterns, eating patterns, lower grades, isolation, or breakdown in communication lines, etc, pick up on those cues and engage with your child. Seek help if things go out of control. Go through Childhood depression and how to identify its signs.
Finally, even if your teen thinks you are “not cool” and looks at you like you are the enemy, do not give up hope. They still need you during this complex and confusing phase. During these trying times, it would be better if they come to you for help and advice rather than relying on their friends or peers. The influence that you have over your teen is largely dependent on developing a trusting relationship than it is on how much authority you dole out and how many lectures you give. So, you as a parent should develop and nurture that relationship with your teen to ensure a smooth transition from childhood to adulthood. Love, support, and guidance are what they need and you have to stay connected with them. They will appreciate you for it.
If you need help figuring out how to tackle teenage issues and challenges, feel free to get in touch with Elysian Inspires