RAISING RESILIENT TEENS
5 STRATEGIES FOR PARENTS
Parenting a teen and navigating these crucial years is akin to riding a roller coaster – full of thrills, chills, and sometimes a little nausea. The well-being of teenagers is paramount. The goal is to help them learn, grow, and thrive, even when faced with life’s many challenges. The key to unlocking their potential lies in fostering resilience for teens.
Resilience goes beyond bouncing back; it’s about thriving amidst challenges. It nurtures well-being and empowers teens to confront the monkeys on their backs, those stressors, distractions, burdens and limiting beliefs that weigh them down.
The teenage years are rife with change and uncertainty. School pressures, peer relationships, and figuring out who they are, can be overwhelming. Resilience helps teens cope with these challenges in a healthy way. Studies have shown that it reduces anxiety, enhances problem-solving skills, and improves mental health, leading to greater life satisfaction.
According to Mayo Clinic, individuals can fight through a number of mental health issues, including depression and anxiety, by developing resilience. Additionally, resilience can lessen the effects of elements like bullying and prior trauma that raise the likelihood of mental health issues.
Parenting is an ever-evolving journey and the journey of guiding and supporting teenagers on their path to resilience is a profound and rewarding experience. As our children grow into teenagers, the parenting style must adapt.
So, if you’re a parent, what can you do to empower and support your child?
Here are 5 practical strategies to nurture resilience, wellbeing, and tenacity to enable them to thrive.
1) ENCOURAGE OPEN COMMUNICATION
In my previous article, I discussed strategies to foster open communication and connection with young people. Keeping lines of communication open and creating a safe space for dialogue are crucial in encouraging them to share thoughts and emotions without fear of judgment. I can only imagine how many heartfelt conversations between young people and their parents have been hindered by the fear of judgment, creating barriers to open and honest communication.
Here are a few suggestions to encourage open communication:
- Family Meetings: Schedule regular gatherings where everyone can express their feelings and experiences. Show genuine interest by asking your teenager about their day, challenges, and achievements to strengthen the parent-child bond.
- Active Listening: Practice attentive listening by putting away distractions, maintaining eye contact, and showing empathy and understanding. Avoid interrupting and be patient, allowing them to express themselves fully. By actively listening, you signal that their thoughts and feelings are valued and respected.
- Non-Judgmental Attitude: Assure them of a safe space to share without fear of criticism. Be mindful of your reactions and responses when they share their thoughts, even if the topic is challenging. Offering support and understanding, rather than criticism, encourages open communication.
- Find Common Interests: Engage in activities or hobbies together that interest your teenager. Whether it’s playing a sport, cooking, or watching a TV show, shared activities provide natural opportunities for conversation. Through these shared experiences, you can bond with your teenager and create an atmosphere of trust and openness.
2) TEACH PROBLEM SOLVING SKILLS
Teaching problem-solving skills to your teenager is crucial for fostering independence and confidence in facing challenges. By encouraging critical thinking and exploring solutions, you equip them with valuable tools to navigate life effectively and help them confront obstacles with a proactive and positive mindset. These skills will serve them well throughout their lives.
Here are a few suggestions to teach problem solving skills:
- School Projects: Resist the urge to provide an immediate solution but instead, guide them to brainstorm ideas, set achievable goals, and break down projects into steps for ownership and problem-solving development.
- Conflict Resolution: If your teenager encounters conflicts with friends or peers, use it as an opportunity to teach problem-solving skills. Encourage them to consider different perspectives, empathize with others’ feelings, and seek constructive solutions to resolve the issue. This cultivates emotional intelligence and effective communication in managing interpersonal challenges.
- Time Management: Help your teenager build effective time management skills by collaboratively planning their schedules. If they have multiple tasks to complete, guide them in prioritizing their responsibilities and organizing their time efficiently. Learning to manage time and prioritize tasks is crucial for handling academic, extracurricular, and personal commitments.
- Goal Setting: Assist them in breaking down larger objectives into smaller, achievable milestones. By setting clear goals and developing strategies to achieve them, they gain confidence and motivation in tackling challenges and achieving their aspirations.
3) MODEL RESILIENCE & OPTIMISM
Kids learn from watching us. Showing them how to be resilient is much more powerful than telling them. As the old saying goes “Actions speak louder than words”. Your teenager looks up to you as a role model.
Here are a few suggestions to model resilient behaviour:
- Sharing Personal Stories: Share your own experiences of overcoming challenges and setbacks with your teenager. Narrate a story from your past where you faced adversity and how you managed to bounce back stronger. By being open and vulnerable, you show them that setbacks are a natural part of life, but resilience enables you to overcome them and grow.
- Handling Stress Positively: Be mindful of how you manage stress in your daily life. Demonstrate healthy coping mechanisms, such as engaging in physical activities, practicing mindfulness, or seeking support from friends and family. Showing them how you handle stress positively will encourage them to adopt similar approaches.
- Maintaining Optimism: Demonstrate optimism and a positive outlook, even in challenging situations. Emphasize the importance of seeing obstacles as opportunities for growth and learning. By maintaining a hopeful attitude, you teach your teenager to approach difficulties with resilience and determination.
- Problem-Solving Together: Further to Strategy 2, when facing a family challenge or decision, involve your teenager in the problem-solving process. Collaborate with them to explore various solutions and discuss the potential outcomes of each option. By engaging them in the process, you demonstrate teamwork and problem-solving skills, fostering resilience in their decision-making.
4) PROMOTE HEALTHY RISKS
Encouraging healthy risks is vital for your teenager’s personal growth and resilience. Stepping out of their comfort zones can lead to valuable experiences and newfound self-confidence. By fostering a sense of adventure, you empower your teenager to embrace challenges with courage and curiosity, fostering personal development and self-assurance. As a parent, your support and encouragement play a pivotal role in helping them navigate these experiences successfully.
Here are a few suggestions to encourage healthy risk taking:
- Exploring New Hobbies: Encourage your teenager to explore new hobbies or interests they are curious about. Whether it’s painting, playing a musical instrument, or learning a new sport, trying something new can broaden their horizons and boost their self-esteem.
- Volunteering in the Community: Encourage your teenager to participate in community service projects or volunteer opportunities. Getting involved in meaningful causes not only benefits others but also helps your teenager develop empathy, compassion, and a sense of social responsibility.
- Joining a Club or Organization: Motivate your teenager to join clubs or organizations that align with their passions and interests. Whether it’s a debate club, drama group, or environmental club, these experiences provide opportunities for personal growth, skill-building, and forming new friendships.
- Taking on Leadership Roles: Support your teenager in taking on leadership roles in school or community activities. Being a team captain, club president, or event organizer can challenge them to take initiative, make decisions, and overcome obstacles as they lead others.
5) BE SUPPORTIVE WHILE INSTILLING A GROWTH MINDSET
Support your teenager’s growth and resilience by offering guidance as they face challenges, empowering them to develop problem-solving skills while avoiding the urge to rescue them. Striking this balance nurtures self-confidence and prepares them for adulthood. Teach them a growth mindset, emphasizing that intelligence and abilities can be developed through effort and dedication. Encourage a lifelong pursuit of learning and improvement, praising their efforts as they embrace challenges and learn from experiences, fostering resilience and personal development.
Here are some suggestions to support and instill a growth mindset as your child faces challenges:
- Academic Challenges: Resist immediate intervention. Encourage seeking help from teachers and to explore study strategies or form study groups with classmates. Empower them to see the challenge as an opportunity to grow and improve. Celebrate their efforts in understanding the material and their commitment to continuous learning, regardless of immediate grades.
- Learning New Skills: If your teenager shows interest in learning a new skill, such as playing a musical instrument or mastering a sport, foster their dedication to practice and improvement. Acknowledge their progress and hard work, reinforcing the idea that proficiency comes with effort and perseverance.
- Conflict Resolution: When your teenager encounters conflicts with friends or peers, be a supportive listener rather than immediately intervening. Guide them through different approaches to resolving the issue and encourage open communication. This empowers them to find resolutions on their own, promoting healthier relationships in the long run.
- Managing Responsibilities: As your teenager takes on more responsibilities, such as household chores or part-time jobs, provide guidance and set expectations but let them take ownership of their tasks. If they forget or miss a responsibility, resist the temptation to step in and cover for them. Allowing them to face the consequences of their actions fosters accountability and self-discipline.
- Personal Decision-Making: When your teenager faces important decisions, offer support and discuss potential outcomes, but let them make the final choice. Whether it’s choosing extracurricular activities, subjects or majors, or future career paths, respecting their autonomy and decision-making skills empowers them to take responsibility for their choices.
- Goal Setting: Guide your teenager in setting realistic and achievable goals in various aspects of their life, whether academic, personal, or extracurricular. Encourage them to break down large goals into smaller steps, and celebrate their progress along the way. This approach reinforces the belief that growth comes from consistent effort.
- Handling Setbacks: When your teenager faces setbacks or failures, offer support and understanding. Help them reframe the experience as a learning opportunity and brainstorm ways to overcome obstacles. By embracing failure as a stepping stone to success, they develop a resilient mindset that propels them forward.
To conclude, resilience remains a steadfast pillar on the rollercoaster adolescent journey. It’s the tool that gives teens the courage to face their monkeys, the optimism to dream, and the tenacity to reach their fullest potential.
The strategies we’ve explored – encouraging open communication, teaching problem-solving skills, modeling resilience and optimism, promoting healthy risks, and offering unwavering support while instilling a growth mindset – serve as powerful tools to empower the younger generation.
I’ll leave you with the inspiring words of the L.R Knost:
“You’re going to make mistakes as a parent. It’s literally inevitable. You’re human, and mistakes are just part of being human. It’s how you handle your mistakes that matters most. Acknowledge them. Apologize for them. Make them as right as possible. Learn something from them. And then let them go. It’s okay. I promise. After all, how else will our little humans learn that it’s okay to be human.”
Let’s set the example and inspire and uplift the next generation, showing them that they have the power to overcome challenges, embrace growth, and create a bright future filled with possibilities. Together, we will empower them to shine brightly and make a positive impact on the world.