Being a teenager in today’s times isn’t easy – the pressure to fit in is extremely high and the consequences if you don’t are increasingly serious. Social media and technology grant greater access to information both good and bad which influences their sense of self. As struggles for teens increase so do the struggles for parents. So, after a lovely request to write this blog, here are 4 things as a parent you can do to help your child navigate their teen years with more ease and greater success.
- Extra Curricular Activities: Extra curricular activities whether that be a sports team or art classes create structure and research has shown that those involved in these activities have higher self esteem and better relationship skills. It teaches teens about the importance of making commitments while also engaging them in activities that can bring them joy. As a parent it is important that you let your teen have some say in what activities they way to do while also reinforcing the need to do something. Mastering a skill not only boosts confidence but it also keeps them accountable and if they are in an activity that involves other people it helps teach them how to build relationships.
- Technology Limits: Teens are incredibly plugged in and with smart phones giving them access to everything right at their finger tips it can make it hard for them to exercise self control and turn them off on their own accord. Having a rule in the house regarding when they need to shut their phone off and/or when the phone isn’t allowed to be with them (ex/dinner table) is healthy and will increase their productivity all around. Research shows that looking at a lit up screen before bed affects your melatonin production (the hormone that affects sleep regulation) and that you need at least 60 minutes of screen free time to let your body fall into a proper sleep.
- Boundaries: Point blank you as the parents need to run the house, not your kids. Teens are going to test the limits and see what exactly they can get away with. In these situations it is important that you set clear boundaries and follow through with them consistently. Establishing healthy consequences can keep everyone on track. While consequences may be different based on each child’s currency (the things that are most important to them) the boundaries should be consistent across all family members.
- Family Time: Get curious about your teen and try to understand what makes them tick. As your teen grows up they go through a process of individuation where they will start turning to their peers for support more than you. This is a healthy developmental stage but be careful not to interpret it as your child not needing you anymore. Adolescence is a critical time in your child’s life and continuing to play a role and engage with them is crucial to their success. Make sure as a family you continue to do things together, whether this be regular dinners together where you catch up and get curious about their lives, or special activities you do on the weekends. Make time for your teen and make it a requirement that they make time for the family.
- Be A Good Role Model: Practice what you preach has never been more important than when we are talking about parenting. Kids watch everything you do and if they see that you say one thing and do another they are more likely to follow what you do than what you say. Spend some time thinking about what is most important to you when it comes to your child’s wellbeing. Are you taking care of yourself that way? If not, it may be time to start making changes in your own life so you that as a family you can all be healthy.
Some of these things may be a challenge to implement if they aren’t currently a part of your routine as a family. If so, take some time to talk with your teen about how you are changing a few things in the family to make sure everyone is healthy.