Teen Years and Communication
Teenagers may seem difficult to understand, and parents often feel distant from their children once they hit adolescence. When students start to fall behind in school, parents often wonder what they can do to help their children. Many times, due to a lack of communication, parents feel at a loss about how to talk to and help their children. Life does not need to be like this, and it shouldn’t be the norm in your household. Talking to your teens and showing them you love them is at the root of their success. Here are some common difficulties students face, followed by some parenting tips that are sure to get your child back on the road to academic success.
Anxiety and Stress
Let your child know that dealing with stress is something everyone goes through. Tell them that learning ways to cope with stress now will help them greatly in their present day as well as into adulthood. Talking about things is one of the best ways to deal with upset feelings. Let your child know that you are always available to them when they need to talk, and make sure to show them that this is true. Be willing to drop anything you have going on when your teen says they need you. Encourage your child to come to you to brainstorm or to vent.
Let them know that they can directly tell you whether they want your advice or whether they just want you to listen. Respect their need even when you want to give them advice and they don’t want to hear it. They will come to you for advice when they are ready. Sometimes they just need you to hear them out, without any input. Try to master the art of having conversations about issues rather than giving advice.
It is common for teenagers to get stuck in a rut of negative thinking. Many students feel pressure from their peers to look and act a certain way. Teens often internalize these feelings rather than talk about them. Encourage your child to talk to you about feelings of low self-esteem. Teach your child as early as possible to think positively about oneself and to use positive self-talk whenever possible. Encourage your teen to use positive messages when times get tough. Let them hear you do the same. Modeling wanted behavior for your child does not stop at adolescence. Your teen is still looking to you to be a good role model. As they transition into adulthood, they need to see how you deal with your own self-esteem.
Teach your child how to use social media correctly. Many teenagers compare themselves to their peers and allow insecurities to take over. Teach your child how to think and view things critically. Let them know that people tend to post things that are not entirely true, and only a small part of their true day to day existence. For example, tell your teen that it often takes a person over 100 selfies to achieve the picture they choose to post. Teens should also know that filters are so common that it is hard to tell what people actually truly look like without the filters. Let them know that even when their peers’ posts are true reflections of a magnificent life, to never compare themselves to others. Everyone has ups and downs, strengths and weaknesses, regardless of what they look like, how much money they have, and where they come from.
Lastly, limit your teenager’s access to social media, especially at night. Research shows that students that are on social media at nighttime tend to suffer from low self-esteem. Make sure your teen does something happy and relaxing before going to sleep. Again, be an example of setting limits to social media yourself. Practice what you preach, even when it’s difficult.
Hug your teen, even when they might want to push you away. Tell them you love them. Leave positive notes in their room or in their backpack. Affection NEVER gets old. Your children will never outgrow the need to hear that you love and care for them. You were the most important person in their life when you first held your baby in your arms, and you continue to be the most important person in their lives now, even if they don’t want to admit it!
We will be posting more tips on parenting teens in the future. If you have any specific subjects you’d like us to write about, send us a note. We’d love to hear from you!