When an adolescent feels loved by his or her parents, that love facilitates a teen’s ability to love themselves. And this is essential during adolescence. There is an overwhelming amount of teasing, bullying, and making fun among teens. And this makes being yourself a difficult task as a teen. Many adolescents are faced with knowing that being different could bring consequences. In fact, bullying can squelch a teen’s need to find their identity. Teens need to play with their own creativity and discover the uniqueness of who they are. This can be greatly facilitated by a parent’s love for their teen.
Alongside this is a teen’s need to develop and strengthen their self esteem. And again, the love from parents can support this. With confidence, a teen trusts their own abilities and has respect for who they are. Because of the many barriers to building a strong self esteem, a teen may have a hard time developing self-confidence. Yet, this too can be supported by the love from parents. It’s important to know too that teens who struggle with self esteem, body image, and self-acceptance may be vulnerable to mental illness, such as depression, anxiety, or an eating disorder. Parents can ease any emotional pain a teen may be experiencing by connecting with them emotionally, demonstrating their affection, and clearly saying, “I love you.”
Furthermore, teens want to know that what they say, the experiences they’re having, and the thoughts they are thinking matter. One way to help teens feel as though they are being heard, seen, and understood is to really on a deep level. As a parent or caregiver, when you listen to your teen, use all of your senses, including your intuition. Watch your child’s body language. Listen for what he or she is communicating underneath the words. Then, when you respond, repeat back to your child what you heard in your own words. This process strengthens trust and respect. Your child will likely feel heard and understood in this way. If you succeed in this task, your child will be more willing to discuss in more detail his or her life, thoughts, desires, needs, and challenges. And, more importantly, he or she will also be more open to what you have to say.
Here are some ways that parents can show their teen how much they love and care about them:
- Laugh with each other.
- Smile when your teen walks in the room.
- Get to know their friends and what they’re up to each day.
- Ask your teen about their high and low of the day.
- Invite your teen’s opinions and ideas on important topics.
- Don’t judge your teen.
- Try not to impose your beliefs upon your teen.
- Don’t embarrass your teen when friends are over.
- Let them know when they inspire you.
- Admit when you make a mistake.
- Talk to them about their future.
These are suggestions for growing the emotional connection between you and your teen. And with a connection between the two of you, love can easily flow in the relationship. If you haven’t told your teen you love them, don’t hesitate to do that today.