How to Connect with & Encourage your Teen
The teenage years are transitional. We sit back and watch the volatility as our teens come to terms with growing up. Hormones and emotions run high. From a teen perspective, your child is trying to make sense out of all he has learned. He seems to be searching for himself and perhaps trying on many different 'selves' at the same time.
The one gift you can give your teen is to help him or her understand that life is not about finding himself. Rather, life is all about creating himself.
As parents, we worry about our children's future. Sometimes conflict can develop as we hold out a standard that is a reflection of our own goals, rather than our teen's goals. If we respect our own parental limits and see our role as a guide rather than imposing, we ease our parental grip and allow our teen to enjoy more freedom as appropriate.
The teen years are a time for guidance. Provided that your teen has a solid sense of self, and healthy self esteem, he or she will undoubtedly want to pursue many interests and passions. That is a healthy, natural and creative expression of self and discovering more of what life has to offer. As parents, we can support this by encouraging our child, by listening and giving advice when asked.
Although we may not always be in agreement with choices of hair color or clothing styles, making concessions in this way allows your teen to feel more freedom and in control of his own life. Therefore he'll be less likely to turn to more destructive means of expression or attention getting. Just as adults, teens need to feel they matter. They need to understand that what they think, feel and do are important to you and to the world. You can help your teen understand this by spending quality time together and truly getting to know your child. Ask your teen what he or she enjoys and wants to do, and then do it together. Don't force anything, but let it flow. Teens thrive in an environment of respect, love and understanding.
Just as adults, teens need to feel they matter. They need to understand that what they think, feel and do are important to you and to the world. You can help your teen understand this by spending quality time together and truly getting to know your child. Ask your teen what he or she enjoys and wants to do, and then do it together. Don't force anything, but let it flow. Teens thrive in an environment of respect, love and understanding.
As you encourage your teen to pursue healthy passions and you personally get involved with these interests as well, you will electrify your relationship with your teen. Few things create stronger bonds than sharing fun, interesting times and conversation. If your teen needs help in discovering passions, then help! Visit places, study a language, play basketball, be encouraging - connect with your child and help him or her explore all the wonders of life.
Your teen can literally choose any future he or she wants. The creative processes of life are only halted by mental barriers we personally put up. So armed with this knowledge, encourage your teen to actively pursue healthy interests. Be present to support and encourage, and give advice when needed. Honor and respect your teen's individual choices even if they are different from your own. Above all, nurture your teen's passions by getting involved and being excited about their lives and all of life's possibilities.