Teen Success in Challenging Times: Practical Tips on How You Can Help Your Teen
These are challenging and disruptive times for all of us – wars, the environment, the economy – and our kids, particularly teens, are being affected as well. Everywhere they turn there is talk of how bad things are and they take it in.
Teens may give the appearance that they’re immune from these issues, but many of them actually are feeling concern deep down. Other teens are more vocal, blaming adults in general and, often times, blaming their parents specifically.
Whether your teen appears unsettled by today’s world events or not, it’s well worth your time to do what you can to keep your family relationships strong, keep the communication flowing, and provide guidance that your teen needs at this stage in his or her life.
Following are some answers to four key questions that many parents are asking these days regarding what they can do to help their teens.
With so much global turmoil, how do I help my teen better cope and understand what’s going on in the world and be more resilient?
The most important thing you can do is to talk with your teen. Talk about the economy, war and the environment. Talking helps kids grasp how we’re feeling in general and how specific issues, such as the economy, are affecting your family today and your plans for the future. This is not a time for doom and gloom, but thoughtful sharing about what’s real for you and your family.
Teens need to know that with turmoil and crisis comes change. Share with your teen that research shows that with crisis people, including young people, are breaking through and becoming more creative and innovative. This information allows you to move the conversation into a positive direction.
Also ask and encourage your kids to share their feelings, their questions, and what they know about these issues.
These conversations give you the platform to address taking ownership of the future versus being a victim to events and circumstances we don’t control. This mindset can move teens from placing blame and feeling depressed to having hope and gaining direction for the future.
What can we do to guide our teens through these challenging times?
An important facet of how we teach new life skills at SuperCamp is through modeling. Throughout the ten-day camps, our staff models the desired behavior. Leading by example is important, especially in these times. The term we use is “Everything Speaks.”
You’re probably familiar with the term – lead by example. In the educational world, it’s called modeling. What you can do within your family is model how you want your kids to feel and behave with your actions and words.
Be aware that in addition to your direct interaction with your kids, your behavior with your spouse and friends are seen and heard by your teens. Even casual remarks can be exaggerated in your kid’s mind, especially when they don’t know the background, which means they may take something out of context.
Teens are smart. They’re aware of what’s going on and the debates and opinions that are in the news. Pay attention to what news is on television. There is no benefit to playing doom-and-gloom news non-stop all evening. So, without making a big deal of it, try to minimize the amount of TV time devoted to negative news.
Something else you can do to guide your teen is to provide understanding, context, and knowledge. Separate the facts from fiction and speculation. Guide your teen into reality by explaining that a lot of what they hear and read are extremes and worst-case scenarios, often times generated by news media for shock value and ratings.
How can I strengthen the connection with my teen?
Sometimes parents don’t get a clear picture of their child’s experiences because the information is filtered through their own adult points of view. Don’t try to solve a problem before fully understanding your teen’s perspective.
Teens may think “Mom and Dad don’t understand me — they have no idea what it’s like to be me.” Teens don’t yet have the emotional strength t