The adolescent years of one’s life are undoubtedly the hardest. Emotional, intellectual and social skills are in the process of developing to their mature capacity. There are a few things that parents can do to help their teens handle their journey to adulthood in a safe and healthy way.
Model Positive Behavior
Parents need to be the models for positive behavior. According to Sue Shellenbarger of the Wall Street Journal, parents should be warm and affectionate towards their teens as much as possible. When parents are able to keep their cool, it not only teaches the adolescent how to do the same but it also may help keep them calm in that moment as well. Additionally, parents can teach self-soothing skills to their teen to help them de-stress. These can include yoga, exercise, or listening to music.
Friends are an important part of an adolescent’s life. “Parents and caregivers should teach teens that real friendship involves two people who understand and respect one another, care and take responsibility for each other, expect good things from each other and solve problems together without blaming or manipulation,” says Terri Clark-Jones of the Michigan State University Extension. Encouraging positive friendships and discouraging negative ones can have a great impact on what kinds of activities teens choose to participate in.
Provide Social Options
Giving teens constructive extracurricular options can help them to develop socially and explore their own identities. Ron Dahl, a neuroscientist and professor of human health and development at the University of California, Berkeley, says, “At a practical level, you want to create a context that gives them a range of options and let them find something relatively prosocial and healthy to explore.” Parents need to be positive role models for their children, but not the only positive role models their kids encounter. Sports, 4-H, or any after-school clubs are all good options for teens to experience a variety of meaningful relationships and valuable mentors.
Be A Parent!
Parents still need to be the parents. Setting boundaries, monitoring the teen’s activities both online and in real life and providing a stable home environment are all important for helping kids thrive. When expectations are not being met by the adolescent, parents should show respect and talk through the issue with the teen with the absence of yelling and arguing. Using positive tones helps the parent to connect with the child and be heard. “You want the relationship between a parent and a child to be close enough and warm enough that the child discloses behaviors and what they are thinking, and the parent can offer advice that reinforces rules but doesn’t disparage the child,” according to an interview with social psychologist William D. Crano at Claremont Graduate University in Claremont, California.
The parent-teen relationship is a complex arrangement. Developing this relationship successfully can lead to a healthy, fulfilling life for the teen and a life-long closeness with the parent.
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