If you have teens or pre-teens in your household you know that it’s not the easiest time for them – or you. You may want to be there for them, but often they’re trying to find their own way and actively reject parental advice.
The old-fashioned style of parenting based on ‘do as you’re told’, doesn’t work so well today. The best you can hope for is to keep the lines of communication open and a relationship based on talking is likely to help everyone more.
Young people are undergoing massive changes in hormones, responsibility, planning for their futures and more. It’s no wonder they feel stressed and can react in ways that parents view as unhelpful. When family life is busy, especially if both parents are working, it can be tough to find the space to have the conversations that aren’t influenced by the need to get the family fed, clothed and prepared for the next exit from the house with all the right bags, equipment and food.
The power of influence
Whether you like it or not, most teens are not about to listen to parental wisdom. However, they are influenced by friends, peers, teachers and, of course, social media. Their beliefs about themselves and their lives are often the result of all these influences and can often be wildly inaccurate.
Young people are exploring who they are and who they want to be. That may include developing different values to family and friends, which can be difficult for all involved.
But where does it say that children must have the same values as their parents or their friends? Or that you can’t be friends with someone who doesn’t agree with everything you say? There isn’t a rule book!
What young people who are in this important stage of development need is positive support. Help to develop self-esteem, personal values, body confidence and to understand the importance of love and kindness.
They need to know it’s OK to say no to things they don’t agree with. It’s OK that not everyone shares their values and it’s OK to disagree with family and friends and still be loved by them.
Young people need to be empowered not criticised. Their behaviour is the message that needs to have attention paid to it. With the right resources it’s possible to balance emotional needs to reduce stress without resorting to medication.
The right tools can short-circuit the route to addition, self-harm and anger and build a more positive present and future for the teens in our lives.
Faye Cox has worked with teens and pre-teens for several years and has designed a number of tools to support them.
Affirmation cards – 52 cards in 4 sections addressing body confidence, self-esteem, personal values and love and kindness.
‘I am enough’ journal/notebook, allowing young people to be seen and heard and believe in themselves, despite what others tell them
Affirmation and gratitude journal with affirmations and space to write three things I’m grateful for.
(Coming soon) The Confidence Boost journal a guide and exercises for talking about big emotions, growing confidence and building self-esteem