We all want the best for our children. And while it's never too late to help our kids, there are some basic rules we should follow to help our children feel supported, loved and understood through the years. When we follow these basic guidelines, teens grow up and mature in a nurturing, expressive environment in which they feel free to be themselves. This eliminates the majority of difficulties during these volatile years.
Childhood and teenage problems really begin when a he or she feels lonely, left out, unimportant or misunderstood. Children and teens, just like adults, long to feel loved and included in life. If a child is not allowed to express himself, he won't.....and that will build up as frustration. Besides causing disconnection and a problematic relationship between parent and child, the teen will most likely suffer from low self-esteem, and turn to outside things and people to fill the void.
Helping a hurt teen heal is not always easy, but it is imperative for their lifelong success. We must reevaluate our relationship with our children, reevaluate our own parenting style and make a plan for a renewed successful relationship.
That plan should include:
Mutual respect - established by sharing personal stories, values, triumphs, hurts and stress management techniques. Lack of respect usually stems from a teen perceiving a parent as being too busy with life to truly connect. By taking time to laugh, play and just be together, mutual respect has a fertile ground in which to grow.
Acceptance - of your teen's individual quirks, beliefs and thoughts, even when they are not in agreement with your own. It is not always easy for parents to understand why a child may be so different from themselves. However, this unconditional acceptance and tolerance is a vital component in your plan.
Unconditional Love - no matter where your teen is at right now in life.. take it from there. While you may not agree with his behaviors, actions or reactions, make sure he knows you love him unconditionally.
Be a Role Model - If you want your teen to know success, show success. Strive for a good balance in your own life and be the best role model you can be. If your life is filled with drama, battles, anger and anxiety, your teen's life may be filled with the same, or perhaps rebellion against that way of life.
Establish Clear Boundaries- these boundaries will undoubtedly be broken at some point and it's important to lovingly explain natural consequences to your teen. Parents are allowed to have private time just as kids are. Disrespectful talk or actions should not be accepted but should be calmly discussed and remedied.
Give up the Authoritarian Path of Parenting - this is a great cause of rebellion in many kids, but especially in teens. They want a friend, a confident and someone they can trust. If you spend your time telling them "do as I say and not as I do" then your teen may lose respect for you because you are not living authentically. Being authentic would mean explaining yourself to your teen and helping them understand why you make the decisions you do. In this way, they can grow and mature as well. Be a friend to your teen and let him know that you are a friend and also a parent as well. Be proud that your child or teen wants you as a friend. If you refuse your child's friendship, your maturating teen may do the same.
Teach Responsibility for life actions - this goes back to clear boundaries. If a teen feels he has control of his life and is solely responsible for successes and outcomes, he will feel more enabled and thus be more thoughtful about his choices. Children and teens who feel no control over their lives are the ones who are at greatest risk to turn to drugs, food addictions, and unhealthy influences.
Allow Freedom - When kids feel they are in control and free to create their own life story, they flourish. Giving freedom allows your teen to explore in a comfortable, loving environment and make choices based on experimenting with personal freedom. You must allow personal freedom or teens will rebel and take their freedom secretly when you're not looking.
Be Supportive - Teens long to feel supported by you in their choices. They will look to you for honest advice and guidance if you have continually shown love and support in the past. Be supportive of your teen even if you feel you know how to do it better. Give your advice, but then let them choose. This shows love, care and respect... something that all kids and teens need and deserve.
Implement these strategies in your relationship with your teen if you have not already. It's never too late. Hurts can be mended, relationships can be renewed. Start today and open the door for emotional closeness with your teen. Learn to see him as a separate and maturing person. A solid, loving and mutually respectful relationship with your teen today will help avoid many teen difficulties faced tomorrow.