Hormones, mood swings, and navigating romantic interests-fun things that teenagers have to deal with for the first time. Add that with our fast paced world and ever constant social media and you’ll see being a teenager is hard. No matter what others say, I firmly believe it is harder to be a teenager now than when I was one. So, how can we help them make this transition smoother?
If you didn’t read my blog on How to Navigate the Social Media World with Teens, please check that out.
Your teen needs friends. They don’t need tons of friends but they need at least two dependable friends. (I always say two because then if he is fighting with one, he has another). If making friends is hard for your teenager, help him figure out some sort of activity he can join where he has the opportunity to make friends. This can be sports, school clubs, community clubs, church, fantasy gaming, or Scouts. Joining a new activity can be scary. If your teen has a hard time making friends, role-play with him. If it is hard for you, ask someone he is relaxed around to role play with him.
Meet the parents of your teenager’s friends. Meet them in person. Talk to them about rules at their house. Do they line up with your rules? Are there guns at the house? If so, are they locked up? What about alcohol? How do they monitor social media? What types of shows are their kids allowed to watch? Of course there rules will be different from yours but are they at least similar? If not, you may need to consider your house as the place to hang out.
Talk to your teenager’s friends. Please don’t judge them based on looks. You may be surprised how much in common you have with a teenager who appears very different from you.
Hang out with your teenager. At least once a month, each parent should have some one-on-one time with each child you have. This could be shooting hoops, throwing around a ball, playing a few rounds of cards. Or it could be going to the movies, the local car show, or just out to lunch. The goal of this is just to hang out. No ulterior motive to find out their deep, dark secrets. Just have fun togetherJ
At least once a month the family should do something together too. Spending money is not a requirement for this. Again, this is done just to show you care.
Check in with them about school. The older your teenager becomes, (hopefully) the less you will have to be monitoring their school work. Of course, this varies greatly by child. Emphasize working to the best of one’s ability. Help them find help when needed. And make sure they are having fun at school too!
Lastly, remember you are your teenager’s greatest role model. They are watching you-even at seventeen, eighteen, and up. If you are doing things that are inappropriate, they will too. Think along the lines of lying, cheating, and being dishonest.
Stefanie F. Pisarkiewicz, LPC
Experience and information from a counselor and mother- sharing her two cents on children and teens.