|No matter how hard you try, you won't be able to protect your child from every possible emotional difficulty. However, there are things you can do to give your teenager a better chance of having an emotionally healthy adolescence.
- Let them know you love them. Our children need support and acceptance as
they go through adolescence—and they need it especially when they make mistakes
or disappoint themselves. It's crucial to maintain a household where they feel
loved no matter what.
- Help them build confidence. Teenagers are often full of self-doubt, and it
can make them miserable. Encourage your child to feel good about the things he
or she does. Help them set realistic goals, and let them know that everyone
(even you!) fails sometimes. Avoid sarcastic remarks. Treat them like adults,
and try giving them your trust.
- Continue to be a parent, but back off a little. Even as they become more
independent, teenagers still need and want some guidance from their parents.
Listen to their problems, empathize with them, suggest things they might do—but
don't expect them to always agree with you or follow through. Use discipline
carefully. If you don't set some limits, your teen may feel abandoned. But be
willing to negotiate these limits as a way of showing respect for your child's
- Help them learn to take control of their lives. Teenagers want their
independence, but most of them don't know how to handle it. Teach them to get
organized and keep track of their own schedules with calendars and planners.
Show them the benefits of planning ahead, and talk to them about how to weigh
the pros and cons of their options. Be sure they know that you're not trying to
meddle—you're just trying to make their independent lives less stressful.
- Have a sense of humor. It's always good to think back to when you were a teenager. Put yourself in
your child's position. This will help you keep things in perspective, so you'll
have a better idea of when to take something seriously and when to laugh it
- Explain to them that emotional health is important. Many people are ashamed to
talk about what they are feeling. Reassure your kids, and tell them that
there's no reason to be embarrassed about mental health issues. If your teen
feels comfortable sharing his or her mental health concerns, then it's more
likely that he or she will accept help if a serious problem arises.
Sometimes you'll get fed up and angry with your teenager, but this happens to everyone. Have realistic expectations for yourself as well as for them—you can't be a perfect parent. The important thing is to keep your teenager from drifting away from you. A loving parent can provide a strong anchor for a teenager during these years.