Many parents can agree that raising a teenager is no easy task. My children are entering their teen years, and I have embarked into this new territory with them. I’m conflicted about it; part of me is thrilled to watch them grow up, but the other part is sad that they’re leaving the comfort and security of my nest. Also, I know what it was like to be a teenager myself—the exciting, sometimes challenging, experiences (not to mention the drama), I had to face. I often find myself thinking about the kind of parent I’ll be to my teenagers.
According to Dr Daniel J Siegel, bestselling author of Brainstorm: The Power and Purpose of the Teenage Brain, teenagers are entering a stage in their lives where they have the newfound power to be creative and assert their independence. A good deal of their behavior is a direct result from fundamental changes in their brain. Increased emotional intensity, novelty seeking, and social engagement are the common behavioral changes, which are a lot to process for teens as well as manage as a parent.
I want my children to have an easier time than I did and I want to support them as best as I can during this difficult transition in their lives. I’ve learned that one of the best ways to do that is to understand what they need. Sean Grover, LCSW, author of When Kids Call the Shots, offers some helpful tips to guide your son or daughter down the right path while remaining on friendly ground:
1. Provide outlets to relieve tension
Whether it’s an after school sport or dance class, exercising is one of the most effective ways to relieve stress and tension. Studies show that being active allows teens to be more mindful, think more clearly, and sleep better.
2. Encourage activities to build self-esteem
Help your teen discover ways to develop his or her passions and talents. It’s important to have at least three to five sources that contribute to their self-worth. That way, if they fail at one activity, it doesn’t damage their overall view of themselves.
3. Establish healthy boundaries
Even if they rebel against them, teenagers need structure and boundaries. What they are feeling and experiencing is new and uncomfortable, so knowing what to expect at home provides them with a sense of safety and security. It also enables them to develop the good habits they’ll need for college and adulthood.
These are just a few ways to help your teen. For more information about teen parenting, check out:
Image Credit: Kristin Vogel