It can sometimes feel your teenage child speaks an entirely different language. This puts you at quite a disadvantage when it comes to communication. Toss in a seemingly non-stop succession of challenging world events and there is bound to be some disconnect. Unfortunately, this is exactly the time that your teen needs your support.
You wish to offer as much support as you can. But, when a disconnect exists, this is often easier said than done. The good news? You can cross the divide — even in the midst of so much external turmoil.
Why Teens Need Support
Their voices and bodies are changing. Suddenly, they’re forming bold new opinions, driving cars, exploring sex, and planning a future as an adult. As exciting as all of this can be, this time is also confusing and scary. Your teen (whether they’d admit it or not) needs to know they still have a safe space to call home. They need someone to trust and talk with though they may resent coming to you for answers.
Meanwhile, your teen has the added context of growing up in the digital age. They are dealing with factors unique to this generation — fear of missing out, online harassment, sexting, and more.
Just as teens may feel they’ve got their footing, along comes a global pandemic. In a flash, whatever coping mechanisms they’ve created may have been flipped on their head. Post-pandemic life insists that they rely on the internet for more social and educational life than ever before. So, again, whether they like it or not, they need your support. Whether you like it or not, this will not always be easy to get right.
6 Ways You Can Make Your Teen Feel Supported
1. Be Consistent
The onus is on you to keep a daily routine that communicates stability and security. Your teen will likely feel and behave in more erratic ways as the grow and change. Yet, paradoxically, they’ll crave the structure you can offer. Be solid and predictable for them.
2. Find the Parent-Friend Balance
They are old enough to talk with as friends. However, this does not mean you should let things get too casual. Again, the onus will be on you to maintain the appropriate balance. Follow their cues as much as you can regarding interaction but ultimately, it’s your job to find a way to be both a friendly supporter and authority figure.
3. Respect Their Independence
It’s a cliché but for good reason. As painful as it may be, you sometimes have to let your kids learn from their own mistakes. They may feel frustrated when they mess up but it will be balanced by the realization that they acted of their own volition.
4. Keep the Lines of Communication Open
Communicate clearly that your teen can talk to you about anything. Be sure that you listen more than you talk. Pay attention to your teen’s body language and the subtleties of your interactions too. Sometimes a hug or a sympathetic sentence between you will communicate support in ways that a 30-minute lecture never could.
5. Do Things Together
It may be game night, a walk, or always eating dinner as a family. Whatever you choose, think back to tip #1 and be consistent.
6. Tell Them How You Feel About Them
Never leave your teen guessing as to where they stand with you. Say “I love you.” Say “I’m proud of you.” When necessary, express the feelings that may feel tough to say out loud.
You Don’t Have to Figure It All Out Alone
Teens want independence, it’s the natural course of things. For you and them, there is a lot to know and often very little time to learn it. That’s why so many parents seek out some sort of counseling. You may attend the sessions individually. You may attend together, with your partner and/or kids.
There are plenty of therapy options and all of them can offer you the support you need as you offer your teen the support they need!
Please read more about teen counseling and contact us soon for a consultation.
Getting Started With Teen Counseling in Lakewood & Longmont Colorado
We invite you to call us at 720-551-4553 for a free 20-minute phone consultation. You can schedule your appointment via phone, email, or the contact page on our website. We offer both in-person and online counseling. We’re open to whichever option you feel more comfortable with. We look forward to hearing from you!