It is one of the paradoxes of life that parents have lived through their own teenage years but they often find it difficult to communicate with their own children when those children become teenagers. The teen years are a difficult time in the development of any person. It is imperative that parents offer support and encouragement if their teenagers are to develop into successful adults.
1. Be positive
Adults and teenagers alike will make mistakes. It can be distressing for parents when their teenagers make bad choices. Parents may also be angry with their child for their behavior.
It can be difficult to suppress this anger, but being negative with your child is not going to give them the encouragement needed to make the right choices. Telling teenagers they are bad, lazy, silly or a disappointment will only serve to reinforce negative behavior.
It’s much better to focus on positive things. Get your teenager to understand that they will feel better by attracting positive rather than negative responses.
2. Take the correct action to remedy problems
Don’t ignore any strange or unusual behavior displayed by your teenager. Teenagers are under immense pressure from peers to be rebellious. This often includes experimenting with drugs or alcohol, for example.
According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, the number of teenagers using illicit drugs—excluding marijuana—in the prior year is at its lowest level since monitoring began.1 Nevertheless, 14.3 percent of twelfth graders have used illicit drugs in the past year. There is also a decline in alcohol usage, but about 65 percent of teenagers will have had at least one alcoholic drink before they reach 18.2
Parents should openly discuss drug and alcohol use with teenagers. Teenagers may use these substances recreationally, but any user is at risk of developing an addiction. The development of problems can often take time, and substance abuse may not become a problem for many teenagers until they are in the workforce. Having a dependency issue can negatively impact a person’s ability to be successful.
If a teenager develops substance abuse problems, parents should not condemn them, but they must not ignore the problem either. Parents should consider addiction treatment to help their teenager return to a life of sobriety. There are rehab facilities that cater specifically to college and high school students. Parents can also benefit from counseling to help them understand and cope with their child’s substance abuse problem.
3. Manage your own expectations
Don’t ask too much of your teenagers. It is perfectly acceptable to encourage your offspring to excel at school, college or in their jobs. However, do not set unrealistic targets, and do not ignore your teenager’s own aspirations. Recognize when your children are doing their best and remember to provide constant acknowledgment of their achievements.
The transition from teenager to adult is difficult for many people. Those who can manage the transition best are more likely to be successful. Parents can help by making sure their teenagers know their parents are 100 percent behind them and are there to help them through any problems.