Raising a teen can be tough. Sometimes it seems like whatever you do backfires and causes both you and your teen to be more unhappy than before you reacted. Back where your kids were small, it was easier to be a positive influence—you were their world and they didn't try and rebel against you too much (well, maybe during the "terrible twos"). But while raising teens can be challenging, we shouldn't forget teenagers are incredible. They're inquisitive, quirky, and have a great sense of humor. Scroll down for eight secrets to raising healthy, well-adjusted teens.
1. Show your teen that you love them.
Teenagers are incredibly perceptive. They have a sixth sense for picking up on how you feel about them. Step back and look at the journey they’re going through. There’s no need to worry about the little details. Your teen isn’t done growing, so there’s no need to think they’ll be like this their whole lives. Your teen is half cocoon-half butterfly and both sides are equally worthy of love. So love all of them—their crazy dreams, their obsessions, their acne, and their fashion experiments. Love their bravery in navigating through middle school or high school, their huge appetites, and their funny way of talking. Love their successes and their failures, too.
2. Take an interest in their lives and listen.
When you get a moment with your teen after a long day, don’t forget that your teen has had a long day, too. They’re full of all of the emotion, excitement, and boredom that they went through at school and with their friends. Give them a chance to let them tell you about their day. As much as they’d love to message their friends about all the details, they’d also love to share the details with you. Listen without judgement and your teen will open up to you. The key here is to listen with empathy. Don’t lecture your teen or offer advice. Just listen. Even though life is difficult for your teen, when you listen, you become a sounding board, and you make them feel important. Both of these things will help them navigate on their own. And they’ll grow stronger doing it.
3. Feed them.
You can’t overestimate the importance of food in your teen’s life. Your teen is growing and they need all the energy they can get. Make sure your teen has enough energy for all of the things they do in life. And know that when you have good food in the house, your teen will invite their friends over. Then, you’ll get to keep an eye on your teen and better understand their needs.
4. Be a positive influence.
Teens have enough negativity in their lives. They’re surrounded by people telling them that they’re not good enough, that they can’t do this or that, that they’re too fat or not smart enough. Be a positive influence in their life. Instill in them that they can do anything if they put in the effort. The optimism you instill in them will help them stay cheerful as as they navigate all of social and academic challenges that come their way.
5. Have boundaries.
Remember you’re not your teen’s friend. You need to set boundaries to protect your teen’s safety and happiness. Don’t let your teen get into dangerous situations where it’s difficult not to make bad decisions. Don’t let them go to unsupervised parties where alcohol will be present and don’t let them stay up all night with members of the opposite sex. Setting up rules for your teen can actually reduce their stress as it helps them to make good choices.
6. Give your teen some leeway.
Between always saying yes and always saying no is a chance for your teen to learn. Give your teen a chance to establish their own identity. Allowing your teen to have some level of Independence will help them find their place in the world. But don’t give them too too much leeway. Your teen isn’t an adult yet!
7. Don’t sweat the small stuff.
Before you start yelling about their messy room or that dirty dish they left on the TV, put yourself in their shoes. Maybe they’re having a hard day, are overwhelmed with schoolwork, after-school activities, a relationship, or their social life. Instead of yelling, ignore the mess for a while. Find a way to connect with them. Offer them a snack. Try a hug. Invite them to talk about their life. After they’re settled and have opened up, you can ask them to clean up their room. But this doesn’t mean you should let rules slide. You’re still the parent.
8. Don’t micro-manage.
Your teen is full of brilliance and potential. And that brilliance isn’t dependent on you. Let the magic happen. Your teen will surprise you if you give them the space to shine.
Tips provided by Christie Halverson from Texas, USA. You can visit her blog here.
What other tips do you have for raising teens? Share them in the comments!
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