The Teen years are inevitably confronting and Teens are vulnerable. Not only are they going through puberty they’re also trying to figure out who they are and where they fit.
The Teen years are fraught with difficult situations which test their fragile decision making and impulse control. Your relationship with your Teen will be challenged!
According to the World Health Organisation 75% of mental illness begins before the age of 24. Given the odds, every parent should be aware of what they can do to prevent problems and to safeguard Teens:
1. Listen more than you give advice.
Teens seek validation and to feel like they are understood and that they matter. So, listen to them, even if this means biting your tongue from offering an opinion or advice.
They need to know that you are a safe person & that, no matter what, you will listen, rather than argue or punish. if your Teen does not feel heard by you, they will seek this elsewhere!
2. Validate feelings.
This is simple and the most powerful tool you have. When they have an emotion, notice it and use phrases such as ‘that sounds really difficult for you’ or ‘I can see why that might be tough’.
EVEN IF YOU DISAGREE, validate anyway!
3. Be sensitive to them.
Their esteems are delicate during these years so see your Teen for who they are, not what they can or don’t do. Compliment a talent or skill as opposed to an accomplishment or the way they look.
Praise effort. See and thank them for a value you admire such as kindness or generosity. During the Teen years they are hypersensitive to criticism so make extra effort to see the good in them.