Let’s face it— being a parent is hard. Being the parent of a teenager? Even harder. The ups and downs of friendships, school drama, social media, and the pressure of entering adulthood can take a serious toll. So how do you be the best possible parent to your child who’s no longer a kid, but not yet an adult? When you don’t know what to do, try remembering the important things not to do. Need some help? Here are 3 mistakes parents make with teens.
Comparison Crushes Confidence
When your son or daughter comes to you for advice, one of the worst things you can do is answer with a comparison. Remember that your teen longs to be their own person, unique and set apart. This is key in all aspects of their lives; athletic performance, academics, relationships, etc. For some, learning is easy and athleticism is second-nature. For others, it takes intentional effort and possibly professional intervention. Whether that’s a tutor, school counselor, or private lessons, invest fully in your teen’s unique learning style.
This comparison ideology applies twofold when it comes to mental health. How your teen handles stress and anxiety will be unique to their individual learned behaviors and life skills. If they’re looking to grow, don’t start them off by expecting them to follow a timeline that you — or another friend/family member — has walked. Offer advice during a hard time by boosting their self-esteem. Remind them of their previous victories and how they overcame obstacles in the past. Show them your pride in what they’ve already accomplished, then work together to set a game plan that’s tailored to their strengths.
Don’t ignore the warning signs
One of the most dangerous thought patterns is “he/she is just an angsty teenager, they’re simply looking for attention”. If you see something shifting in your teen, don’t stand idly by. Warning signs for mental health issues can manifest in both behavioral issues and social issues. Is your son more irritable and lashing out over basic requests? Does your daughter suddenly avoid her usual social circles? Look for an increase in negative behavioral patterns. It could be time to do a mental health check.
If you’ve attempted to discuss these changes with your teen and progress isn’t made, it might be time to consider professional help. Hop online and do a search for “residential programs for troubled youth near me.” You might be surprised to know the number of options that are available to troubled teens in your area. These residential treatment programs are a great way to give your young adult a respite amongst a team of therapists with years of experience in mental health. Programs are catered specifically to your son or daughter’s needs and equip them with the tools they’ll need to face their teenage years head-on.
The family that prays together, stays together
Your children need more than physical and mental support to be their best selves. This is especially true as they begin their walk into young adulthood. God’s word is a compass by which we can live our lives to the fullest. Guide your teen from the years of Sunday school books to an adult walk with their Heavenly Father.
Pray together every chance you get, suggest they join a bible study or begin a small group with their friends. If they need counsel and don’t feel ready to discuss it with you, connect them with your church leaders. Many churches even have programs designed specifically for teen boys and teenage girls. To be a teen in the age of social comparison, online highlight reels, and media pressure is stressful. Give them all the help they may need — mind, body, and spirit.