Teens need support from their parents, caregivers, and other adults because of the demands of this stage in life. And it’s not only the physical, emotional, and psychological, changes they’re going through, but it’s also the academic, social, and family demands they are often expected to meet. Sometimes, these demands are simply unrealistic and even set up a teen for failure. For instance, a teen is expected get good grades, prepare for college, stay cool among their friends, resist peer pressure, and begin dating. All of these expectations can be too much. In turn, when a teen can’t or won’t meet those demands, they may feel disappointed in themselves or they may feel a sense of rejection by others and even themselves. Caregivers and parents often hear teens complaining that “life is not fair” and that they feel “stressed out”.
It’s easy to recognize that teens need support to make it through this challenging life stage. Yet, some parents may look at adolescence as a strange period of life that teens “just need to get through”. Many parents might recognize the difficulty of adolescence but instead of providing the right support, they blame a teen’s behavior on adolescence. And in other cases, parents may want to support their child but may not know how. Perhaps over the years, the parent-teen relationship has been impaired. Perhaps events in the family such as divorce, a death of a loved one, or a trauma affected the parent-teen relationship.
If you’re a parent who would like to support your teen but not sure how because of the relationship you have with them, here are tips for assisting your teen:
1. Find a mentor for your teen to work with. Mentors have been shown to make a dramatic, positive impact in a teen’s life. Adolescents who were once struggling in school, exhibiting aggression, fighting with their peers, and/or showing signs of depression can experience a turn around with the right mentor. Research has shown that grades have gotten better and behavior improved as a result of a teen’s relationship with a mentor
2. Have your teen work with a therapist. Obviously, this will only work if your teen is willing. Many teens are very open to the idea of seeing a counselor and even welcome the support in their lives. However, some teens don’t like the idea of it and may refuse to participate. If your teen is willing, have a consultation with a therapist and see if the two of them make a connection. You can look for therapists who specifically work with adolescents.
3. Encourage your teen to participate in an after school activity.Whether it is a sport, such as swimming or basketball, or a club, such as art or diversity, giving your teen the opportunity to form healthy relationships with peers can be supportive. This is especially true when your teen is meeting new friends while doing something that he enjoys. When the opportunity arises, go to your teen’s games, school plays, or science fair. This can communicate you care despite the impaired relationship.
These are suggestions for providing support for your teen despite the fact that your relationship with them may not be close. You can still be supportive and show that you care whenever the opportunity arises.