Here are some practical steps to help you and your adolescent have a better relationship. – Sandra
Start by creating an “open door” policy with your teen where they can come to you with any questions. Don’t be afraid to address topics with your teen such as drugs, alcohol, and sexuality. Stay informed on who your teenager’s friends are, as well as your child’s interests and hobbies. Ask your teen questions, but also understand that ultimately, sharing is their choice.
To help your teenager learn to take responsibility for their own actions, you’re going to need to grant them some privacy. In a perfect world, their phone calls and room would be off limits to snooping. However, if you suspect something serious is going on with your child, like substance abuse or other illegal activity, it is your responsibility is to keep your teen safe.
As teens mature, they begin forming opinions and strive to become independent. Parents of teens can find it frustrating when their teen suddenly begins asserting themselves. The key is to listen intently to your teen’s feelings, trying to understand their experience. It is important to allow space to develop their own opinions, even if it differs from yours.
With all the emotional changes taking place with adolescence sometimes your teen may feel depressed, lonely, or upset. Remember, you do not need to fix their feelings or tell them that they should not feel that way. Give your teen permission to feel exactly what they are feeling and work through your discomfort about their feelings with a trusted partner, friend, or therapist.
If your teen wants to color their hair pink, paint their fingernails green, or wear a unique combination of clothing choices, think twice before you say no. Teenagers need to assert themselves, and it’s far better to allow them do things temporary and harmless. Save your objections for things like substance abuse, character values, and safety.
Even though they may not show it, teens want and need the approval of their parents, despite acting frustrated with their parent’s rules. They actually understand and appreciate that their parents care enough about them to expect certain things such as good grades, acceptable behavior, and adherence to family’s values. Reward their good efforts by consistently noticing and acknowledging the things you think they are doing well.
Finally, a unified parental front is crucial during the teenage years. Decide as a team what your expectations are and then stick to them. If you tell your teen they’re grounded for the weekend, and then forget to follow through the next day, you are teaching them to not take you seriously.
Consequences and Punishment are not the same thing. Consequences are not about yelling or getting angry with your teen. Consequences are simply the act of imposing a restriction or requiring a task for a period of time.
Warning Signs to on the lookout for:
- Sudden change in eating patterns
- Isolation from peers and family
- Brushes with the law
- Sudden change in grades
- Joking/talking about suicide
- Regular disobedience at home and/or with teachers
- Significant loss or sudden change of friends over a period of time
- Suspicion of substance abuse
Keep your eyes open for these warning signs and seek consultation when you see them.
If your teen or young adult child is struggling socially or emotionally, I can help you to discover the cause and remedy it.
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