10 Things Every Teenager Needs To Hear
Being a teen isn't easy and being a parent of a teen is no walk in the park either. It’s emotional for a parent knowing their child has prioritized their friends over you and your time spent together has changed. Meanwhile, your teen's brain is going through a crucial development stage that puts their emotions on full blast. When you see them roll their eyes at you or they tell you you’re ruining their life, it’s overwhelming for both the parent and teen to go through this stage. Thankfully, there are some simple things you can tell your teen that will make all the difference.
During the teen years, it seems like your teen knows it all, right? They think you don’t understand what they’re going through and everything they’re going through in that moment is the end all be all. Because you’re both at very different stages in life, it can be difficult to see eye to eye. Although this is frustrating, know that you’re not alone and these disagreements with your teen are completely normal.
Here are ten things every teen needs to hear.
Tell me why you think that way
Although we like to think we remember what it’s like to be a teenager, so much changes when you become a parent and we lose sight. Furthermore, much has changed with technology and social media. This makes seeing things from each other’s perspectives quite difficult. So instead of discrediting your teen’s opinion because they’re “too young to know” or “just a teenager” ask them why they have this opinion. It’s important not to undermine your teen and truly try to grasp where they are coming from. This will allow you to get to know them better and understand their point of view, whether or not you agree with it.
Tell me how I can help
We might be used to juggling family, kids, work and a social life but for teens, this is much newer. We’ve seen more teens struggling with anxiety than ever before. Some people are more comfortable asking for help than others so sometimes we need to offer it up. Regardless of our age, we want to think we can do it all. But it’s okay if we can’t. So ask your teen how you can help. Even if there is nothing you can do, it will get them to think critically and communicate effectively. They often just shut down if they’re overwhelmed because they don’t know what to do or where to start. However, when you ask them what you can do, it will help them break down each stressful situation or daunting task. In turn, this will allow them to take a step back and handle difficulties a little better.
I understand this is important to you
In a teen’s mind, everything is a big deal. This isn’t their fault. It’s just science. Their brains aren’t fully developed yet, therefore heightening one’s sense of urgency and importance. They lack perspective in this stage therefore their perspective is very different than yours. This is why teens and their parents tend to have more disagreements than in any other stage in life. When you can get on their level and show them you understand that this issue (no matter how big or small) is important to them, it will make them feel valid. Teens already feel misunderstood, so don’t give them a reason to.
You got this
As much as it’s important to show your teen you’re willing to help, it’s also essential to let them take responsibility. Ensure them that whatever they’re going through or have to do, they can handle it. Not only will this allow them to master life skills (laundry, grocery shopping, etc.) but it will also help them gain emotion skills (handle drama with friends, deal with a bad grade, etc). It’s hard to watch this because as a parent, you want to prevent your kid from dealing with any sort of discomfort or stress. There is a happy medium between helping them and allowing them to handle things on their own. All you can do is let them know you are there, and tell them you got this.
You work really hard
We all like hearing positive feedback, and your teen is no exception. They might be working really hard at something and not necessarily achieving their goal. Validating their work ethic could be just the confidence boost they need. In another situation, your teen might work really hard at one thing and you’d like to see them put that energy into other activities as well. Let’s say they put all their effort into baseball but you’d like to see them work a little harder in school. Telling them “you work really hard in baseball and it would be great to see you put some of that effort into your homework” guides them in the direction you’d like them to go without pushing them.
Teens tend to shut down with things get tough. But on the off chance they decide to tell you what’s going on, focus your attention on their problems. They want to feel like you’re there for them but it’s important to do so without judgment. Teens don’t tell their parents things because they don’t want them to get mad. So if you can offer an open line of communication without judgment, you’ll be able to get a lot more out of your teen.
I’m proud of you
When you’re young, you typically do things like get good grades or excel in an extra curricular activity partially because you want to make your parents proud. So whether it’s a good grade on a test or how they dealt with a difficult situation with a friend, don’t forget to let them know you’re proud and that you see them and their achievements.
Every parent thinks they’re right and every teen thinks they’re right. Kids think their parents know everything and it’s a lot of pressure to be put in that position (because parents don't know everything!) At the same time, when they get a little older and question your authority, you have to pay even closer attention to your actions. This is the age when they find out you’re not perfect. And that’s okay. It’s important to admit when you’re wrong or that you don’t know the answer, because that’s the reality. We tell white lies to our kids to protect them but at some point, they need to know the truth. Taking responsibility and ownership of your mistakes is great modeling for your kids as well.
You never want to just tell your teen they’re wrong and give them no reason. Similarly to our first suggestion (tell me why you think that way) you don’t want to undermine your teen. They’re going to be wrong sometimes and you can tell them that. But adding in some positive reinforcement, like telling them you’re proud or that you love them, shows that you’re coming from a good place. It is also helpful to validate where they are coming from. If you don’t tell your teen they’re wrong, they might go into the world thinking they can do no wrong. As we’re sure you know, that attitude isn’t going to get them very far. We want them to dream big but we also want them to set realistic goals. So, praise them but steer them. Praise what they do well and steer them somewhere that’s a good fit for them (and not where you want them to go).
I love you
At this stage in life, telling your teen “I love you” might get an eye roll, a half hug or a “you’re embarrassing me” response. Little do they know how much those “I love you’s” will affect them in the long run. So even if you don’t get the response you’d like (when you know they love you too), expressing those emotions will be more impactful than you might think. This is especially important for teens, who are already going through a tough stage in their life.
If you think your teen is having a hard time managing emotions and would like them to speak with a professional, schedule an appointment with one of our therapists today. You can also check out Dr. Hutt’s latest workbook on CBT for teens.
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