The years of adolescence can be challenging, both for the teen and the parent.
Relationships can be tested and harsh words exchanged. Being a teenager can be a difficult time. Today’s teenagers have to contend with this difficult transition in a digital age, which adds another layer of complexity and creates more distance between our children and us. So here are some ways to help you and your teen get through this time.
- Be a good listener
You may not understand what your teen is going through, or know how to help them. But you can listen. All they want is for someone to listen without judgement. Pay attention to what they are saying and try to have some empathy. This involves shifting the attention of what you want to communicate to your teen and being invested in what they have to say. Make your teen the focus of your attention. This may sound easy, but it can be more challenging than you think. The more you do this, the more inclined your teen will be to communicate with you. Be patient and try not to get offended if they don’t want to talk.
- Be supportive
Your teen is going through a monumental change in a relatively small amount of time. They face physical, emotional, social and mental changes without the confidence or life experience to contend with it all. Not to mention the hormonal changes. This is a very important time in your teen’s life. They are navigating their way through these changes while trying to figure out their own identity. All of this, no doubt can be frustrating and maybe scary. Try and look past the moods and offer support wherever you can. Even if you don’t really understand what they are going through, let them know that you will always be available to support them.
- Ask questions
Try and dig a little deeper and go past How are you? By asking questions, you can try and get a better understanding of how they feel, what their boundaries are and what you can both expect during this time of transition. Asking questions about their interests is a great place to start. It creates an opportunity to better understand your teen, as well as giving your teen an opportunity to share their passion. Instead of asking how school was, get to know about what they study at school, who their friends are, what they’re reading and so on. Here is a great list of different questions you can ask your teen to engage them and build your relationship. https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/abcs-child-psychiatry/201804/100-questions-ask-your-teen-other-how-was-school
- Respect their privacy
Of all the changes your teen is going through, their physical changes are probably the ones that are most confusing and embarrassing for them. This is a time for them to become acquainted with their new bodies. They may be exploring, identifying and coming to terms with the new body they inhabit. They may also be dealing with hormone-induced emotions that they may be embarrassed by. This embarrassment and confusion, often time leads to wanting to be alone. They may want to be alone to think, feel or just be. As a parent, your natural instinct is to help your teen. Sometimes the best thing you can do is respect their need for privacy. When they are ready, they will come to you. Reassure your teen that you are always available, but give them time to be and to grow.