06 Nov Tips for Raising Well-Adjusted Teens
The contrast between raising a teen and raising a younger child is like night and day. The child depends on you wholeheartedly for everything and frequently shows it by often clinging to you. A teen, on the other hand, views themself as a young version of an adult and will contradict you as well as go down a path of relative independence from you. While all teens are different, and the challenges of raising each is so unique, it’s good to reflect that they are still your child, a living person who needs advice and guidance in order to navigate the choppy waters of life.
Here are four tips for raising healthy, well-adjusted teens:
1. Exhibit Constant Love
This is the time when you should change the way you love your teenagers. Though the occasional hug and kiss is fine, being so affectionate with them as if they were still young children no longer applies. Your teens want their distance, their space and their time apart (spent amply with friends) to reflect on their problems, their aspirations and who knows what else, as a means of coping with the pains and pleasures of growth during this stage of their lives.
Your teen is in a half cocoon-half butterfly stage of their lives, so express support for all their reasonable endeavors as they try on many hats of experimenting with who they want to be. Support their obsessions, their crazy dreams, and their kooky fashion experiments. Do your best to make sure your teen knows they are loved.
2. Listen to the Stories of their Lives
The day-to-day experience of living with your teen is important. They will come home from school processing their experiences of the day and may, occasionally or more often, share the details of their problems or the joys and negatives of their experiences with you. Sure, they have already filled their friends in on the details, but they want to repeat their stories to you to get your special feedback and input as their parent. Listen without judging and your teen will learn to turn to you again and again, as you give them an ear that never condemns or judges. Providing them with a loving and nurturing home base will encourage them to make good choices.
3. Providing Good Food
It’s important to provide your teen with proper nutrition at this time. Not just healthy meals and snacks – so important for their development – but meals that smack of deliciousness. Make sure the fridge is amply stocked, and remember, too, that your teen is still growing and needs plenty of food to feed their energy needs. So pretend you’re Betty Crocker and make an extra effort to prepare toothsome, wholesome meals that are nutritious and tasty.
4. Serve as a Positive Role Model
Teens are especially sensitive at this stage of their lives. That is, their self-esteem relies too much on the opinions of others. So when other people, especially peers, signal to them or outright tell them that they’re not smart enough, not pretty enough, not thin enough to be admired and respected, they can take these overtly or inadvertently stated opinions to heart.
Be a positive force in their life. Teach them that they can do or be anything as long as they put in the hard work and effort, and focus on being friendly and positive to other people as well. Teens particularly need parental optimism to teach them to be positive, so do your best to keep your negative feelings for adult conversations.
Your teen is a diamond in the rough, full of potential and brilliance. But this brilliance isn’t dependent on parents alone. Give your teen the resources and the space to find their niche.
Soon enough, they will be prepared to leave the cocoon as the butterfly you know they are capable of being.
About the Author
Michelle Peterson has been in recovery for several years. She started RecoveryPride.org to help eliminate the stigma placed on those who struggle with addiction.