Do you sometimes look at your teenager and wonder what happened to the sweet, playful child who talked non-stop such a short time ago? Teenagers can certainly be a challenge; they often seem moody and unwilling to communicate with parents. They can also be full of energy and ideas that you may not agree with. Your teen still needs the same love and support you’ve always given, but may have a hard time expressing those needs. Here are some things you can do to have a supportive lifestyle with your teenager:
- Encourage open communication without being judgmental.
- Initiate on-going conversations about your family values and rules about alcohol and drug use.
- Model positive, healthy behaviors; are your choices and habits good examples?
- Make your expectations clear for your child’s behavior. Set limits, but be flexible and supportive when your teen shows good judgment.
- Monitor behavior. Know where your teen is going and with whom; always know the locations of parties and if any adults will be supervising.
- Remember that even a “good” child finds trouble from time to time. Emphasize to your teen that, no matter what the trouble may be, you will always be there to offer help, love and support.
- Spend time with your teen--get to know this person your child is becoming. Also, get to know your teenager's friends and make your home inviting for them.
- Make arrangements to eat meals with your teen on a regular basis.
- Be a good listener and acknowledge your children's feelings.
- Be supportive of the struggles, challenges and excitement of “growing
Teenagers who have high self-esteem and feel confident of their talents and abilities are better able to resist the challenges of peer pressure. Parents are the first and often strongest influence on a children's self-image
How can you encourage positive self-esteem in your adolescent?
- Focus on positive behaviors and decisions and offer praise for accomplishments. Everyone makes mistakes; don't dwell on them.
- Accept the person your adolescent is right now. Remember, this is a time of extraordinary learning, changing and maturing.
- To encourage and teach responsibility, give your child practice. As the teen gets older, responsibilities can increase.
- Avoid being over-protective; don't allow your relationship with your teen to be based on reward and punishment.
- Have realistic expectations: You don’t have to be a perfect parent or have a perfect child.
- Take the concerns and interests of your adolescent seriously.
- Encourage your teenager to participate in decisions concerning the family; ask for and value the opinions and suggestions of your child.
- Show confidence in your teen’s judgment.
- Attend parent-teacher conferences regularly, and ask that the teachers work with you and your child on self-esteem issues.
Be alert to changes in your teenager’s behavior. If you suspect a problem, talk with teachers and guidance counselors to see if the school has noticed any problems. Get information from these sources and from your doctor on how to handle the situation. Don't be afraid to get professional help if necessary. The following behaviors can be challenging, but are fairly normal for teens:
Moody, quiet, self-absorbed, difficult to talk to
Less affectionate toward parents than when younger
Greatly influenced by friends; involved in cliques May experiment with drugs, alcohol and cigarettes
The information was developed by The Family Conservancy from a variety of professional resources. This is not a standardized measurement tool.