Let’s face the facts: being a teenager is tough at the best of times, not to mention now – in the new “normal”. There are many opportunities for tears, anxiety, broken hearts and low self-esteem. It’s tough for them and it’s tough for us – parents. But there are few things you can do to help your kids navigate through life in a more balanced way.
1. LISTEN & UNDERSTAND
When a young person feels genuinely understood, they are much more likely to give their attention to the person who has understood them. They are more likely to trust what comes next, for example your suggestions on how to approach things or solve a problem. Genuine, non-judgmental conversation goes a long way. It’s important to listen and not judge, criticise or offer solutions. Just be there and truly listen. The key is to build connection and trust. To do that we need to give them all our attention and put ourselves in second place.
2. BUILD THEIR CONFIDENCE
There is nothing more important to a child than to feel loved and accepted by their parents. It sounds so simple but it’s often forgotten. Parenting is hard as it’s full of duties. But let’s not forget it’s hard for them too. Teenagers are often feeling anxious and can suffer from low self esteem. By complimenting them on what they are good at we raise their confidence. This will help them become more resilient, independent and take on life’s challenges. All of which is in our interest.
3. RAISE THEIR SELF-ESTEEM
Self-esteem is our internal picture – how we see ourselves. There are different factors that determine how our self-esteem is shaped over the years. One of them is based on how we are treated, spoken to or seen by others. This is especially true with people we spend most time with. Let’s stop for a moment and think about what language we use when speaking with our kids. Noticing and voicing positive things about them will help them create a positive self-image. Another idea is to speak to them about their idols and discuss positive aspects of their lives and what journey they have been through to get there. Teaching kids about self-love and self-acceptance is a valuable lesson that will help build a healthy self esteem.
4. LET THEM BE SOCIALLY ACTIVE
The need to be liked and accepted for a teenager is much more profound than for a forty year old with an established career and family. Teenagers feel a strong need to impress others, make friends and gain their approval. However, as it is with us, not all relationships have a positive impact on their life. Kids can’t immediately recognise when something is fundamentally wrong for them. We should encourage them to be socially active but also be interested in their social cycle. This will encourage them to open up and speak up when something negative happens that affects them emotionally.
5. BE THE EXAMPLE THEY FOLLOW
The scary thing is that our kids watch us all the time. They absorb our emotions, our energy and offer similar vibrations to us. Teenagers do require much patience and understanding but if we give them respect we are likely to get respect back. The minds of parents are not so different from our teenagers’ minds. We also fall into states of uncertainty or ‘quick fix’ ways of thinking. However, adults generally have more of the ‘wiring’ that helps resist this. These parts of the brain in adolescents are not fully developed. One of the things that helps a child’s brain to mature is being exposed to the thoughtful and reflective minds of adults. Positive child-parent relationship is always the best way to start, but it’s rarely enough for our kids to grow into independent, confident adults. By building better mental health awareness in our communities and encouraging our kids to express themselves we are giving them a BETTER, HAPPIER FUTURE.