Do you remember what it was like to be a teenager? I mean really remember? I’m not talking about freedom from responsibilities and no mortgage. I’m talking uncomfortable exchanges with the opposite sex and exam pressure. And the desire to be an adult, without the necessary resources. If you think back to that time, you will remember how difficult it was.
Teenagers today have to grapple with many complex issues. The progress of technology and the advent of social media have created a challenging world to navigate. So, what can you do to support your teenage son or daughter? How can you anticipate their needs and help them feel loved and secure?
Many parents worry about how to talk to their teenager. A big part of this is listening. It’s about making the time to sit down and hear what they have to say.
Remember that you’re up against changing hormones and young adults who naturally want to push the boundaries. Your instinct may be to argue and scold. But don’t. Hold back a bit and allow them some space. Let them express themselves and be heard. Obviously, there are exceptions here, but you get the gist.
Avoid the temptation to always know what’s best for them. Allow them to tell you and don’t disregard what they’re saying.
- Support Their Learning
Be inquisitive about their learning but don’t be overbearing. Keep up to date with parents’ evenings and talk to their teachers. Speak to your son or daughter about how you can best support them. See if there are areas where they need extra help. If they’re studying, look for resources that could help them revise. For example, point them to a list of the TOP 50 cause and effect essay topics. Or topics for whatever they’re studying at the time. Offer to test them when they’re ready.
Offer to go on trips with them relating to their subjects. For example, to art galleries or museums. If they don’t want to go with their mum, offer to pay for them to go with a friend.
If exams are looming, provide them with some space to prepare. Ease up on their household chores. Help them set reasonable timetables. Make sure they have some downtime. Take up cups of tea and biscuits. Record their favourite programmes for them to watch later. Celebrate by making their favourite meal after exams have finished.
- Set Boundaries
Establish boundaries from the outset. Discuss them with your son or daughter and explain why they are in place. If they break them, then ensure there are consequences. Teenagers will naturally push against boundaries, but they should also respect them.
Kids without boundaries often feel insecure and uncared for. Though they may rebel as much as they can, they will appreciate you caring.
- Open Door Policy
Establish an open door policy. Allow your teens to talk to you about anything. If they tell you something shocking, try not to overreact. If you need time to digest and process the information, be honest. Tell them you’ll think about it and come back to them. If you immediately shout and scold, they are unlikely to trust you in the future.
- Allow Them Some Space
This can be a challenging area to navigate. You want what’s best for your kids, and your instinct is to keep them safe. But this can sometimes feel suffocating for teenagers. So you need to give them some space. They will never learn if you wrap them in cotton wool. Give them to the tools they need to become adults and let them do just that. Still keep boundaries, but allow them the space to live their own lives. Respect their privacy.
- Allow Them To Make Mistakes
We all make mistakes throughout our lives. It’s part of our learning process. It’s important that teenagers are also allowed to make their own decisions and mistakes. Don’t try to protect them from everything. It’s fine to protect them from catastrophic errors, of course. But they will learn more from making their own mistakes.
Teenagers are at that tricky age where they want to be adults. But they’re not quite ready. And at times they want to revert to being kids again. Allow them to explore both of these areas. Support them and give them the tools necessary to be independent. And on those days when they need their mum, provide them with that security. Let them know that whatever they do and wherever they go, they can always come home.