Teens’ life is by no means easy. Enduring both physical and emotional changes, they thrive to feel connected and accepted within their peer group, but most of all, teens are longing for consistent empowerment by their parents.
Here are some strategies parents can use to better support them navigate through this transition.
Strategy #1: The happiest people are not those with no problems in their life
Physical pain is caused by intense stimuli that affect part(s) of the body. A throbbing toe for instance is a sign to change the shoes we are wearing. A burning tongue can be a sign to check the temperature of our drink before -not after- we drink it. Thus physical pain tells us we’d better change what we are doing.
The same way, emotional pain is a good alarm system that prevents further damage. This unpleasant feeling (hurt, anger, jealousy, resentment, etc.) resulting from negative experiences tells teens that the way they are thinking is not working, and that the more they believe, think, or behave the same way, the more it hurts.
Hence the happiest people are those who learn from their problems how to avoid doing the same thing in life, to get different results.
Here are some tools to help teens get out of sheer habit and deal with a situation in a different way:
Self-awareness: take a moment, step back and observe your thoughts.
Conscience: Listen to you inner voice and consider how that predictable outcome can affect your well-being.
Imagination: envision new possibilities in dealing with the situation.
Willpower: You are powerful and have the ability to change your habit.
Strategy #2: No need to be perfect to be liked by others
If your teens wish to have a different nose, face or body to be liked and accepted by others, help them understand that there is no “reality”, only “perception”. So whether they perceive their body as ugly or as cute, they are right.
Explain to your teens that nobody’s perfect, and whereas talent and beauty are useful in life, the most valued qualities remain courage, honesty, generosity and humility. These qualities are not innate so teens have the ability to develop, nurture them within themselves and forge them as a character. Beautiful and talented people are not necessary liked whereas honest and generous people are definitely likeable no matter how their look can be.
The journey of parenting is never that smooth. Remember to serve as your teens’ role model by practicing what you are preaching. If after all, your teens are having difficulty opening up to you, encourage them to talk to another trusted adult such as a family member, friend or a counsellor.
Collaborative Family Practitioner