Communication and Education Are the First StepsA strong bond between a parent and a teen starts with good communication. Encourage your child to talk to you in an open and honest way by providing them with a safe environment. This allows them to talk about their feelings and thoughts without worrying about being judged or punished. Even if you don't agree with their point of view, showing that you understand and validate their feelings will go a long way. This means you will need to actively listen, which means fighting the urge to formulate a response as they talk and taking the time to fully process their thoughts. Some tips for active listening are listed below.
- Give them your full attention: Try to be fully present when they are talking to you. Don't look at your phone or other things, and keep your eyes on your teen.
- Validate their feelings: Try to see things from their point of view and feel what they're feeling. You can even reflect on their feelings by saying things like, "It sounds like you're feeling frustrated about this situation."
- Pay attention to your body language: Let them know you understand by nodding, smiling, or saying something short like "I see" or "I understand." These signs show that you are paying attention. On the other hand, if your jaw is set and arms are crossed, it's a sign that you're already on the defensive before they even start.
- Do not interrupt: Do not feel the need to speak up or add your own thoughts while they are talking. Let them finish what they're saying before you answer.
- Ask open-ended questions. If you want them to say more, ask them questions that don't have an easy yes or no answer. Asking these questions can drive the communication deeper and help you fully understand what they're saying.
- Summarize and paraphrase: Say what they said again in your own words every so often. This shows that you are paying attention and gives them a chance to make sure you get their point.
- Do not judge: As mentioned above, not judging is key. The minute you start to criticize or evaluate their thoughts and feelings, your teen will shut down.
- Be patient: Just like you, your teen may need time to gather their thoughts or say everything they want to say. Wait your turn and give them room to communicate without pushing them.
Why Does Resiliency Matter?The ability to adjust, keep going, and grow when things go wrong or things are hard is called resilience. It's a skill that can be built up over time, like a muscle, and the better teens understand the process, the stronger they will be. Resilient teenagers are more likely to be able to deal with stress, make good choices, and have a good attitude about life. A few of the ways resiliency helps your teen are listed below.
- Navigation through challenging times: Being a teen is a time of big changes and confusion. Teenagers have to deal with a lot of things, like group pressure, figuring out who they are, and more. Being resilient helps them deal with these problems better.
- Building independence: Being resilient gives your child the power to be responsible for their choices and actions, making them more responsible and independent.
- Positive mental health: Mental health and resilience go hand in hand. Teenagers who learn this skill are better able to deal with mental health problems like anxiety and sadness.
- Future prepping: Resilient teens are more likely to do well in school, make good friends, and do well in their future jobs.
How Can You Build Resiliency in Your Teen?While each teen and situation is different, the building blocks of resiliency stay the same. Consider the steps below to see what might work best with your teen. At the same time, it's essential to gauge your teen's current situation. If they are struggling with their mental health, feeling overwhelmed, or their behaviors have heightened, contact our team to help get them in a good space so we can start building their resiliency together.
- Set realistic goals: Teach your teen to make goals and standards that they can reach. You can do this by showing them how to break down big goals into smaller steps that they can handle. Also, be sure to celebrate their successes while also teaching them how to learn from their mistakes.
- Encourage self-care: Help your teen make time for self-care tasks like working out, getting enough sleep, and learning how to relax. A healthy mind and body can handle stress better. Encourage things like meditation, yoga, and breathing exercises that are easy for them to do when they're feeling overwhelmed.
- Be a good example: It's very easy to tell them what to do, but when they see you handling difficult situations and taking care of yourself, they are more inclined to follow the things you say.
- Encourage safe risk-taking: This might seem counterintuitive, but it's essential for teens to know that risk-taking can be good when the risks are healthy. Getting them out of their safe zone can help them become stronger and more confident.