Your teens will not be normal during puberty–or entirely rational either. If you have a teen you have already experienced this. Teens in the midst of wild hormonal gyrations struggle to interpret their world accurately. Teens are not only hormonally challenged; they are socially challenged too. Their greatest anxiety is the possibility of rejection or humiliation by their friends or peers. Since their sense of worth is dependent on the opinion and acceptance of their peers, their friends will hold an enormous influence over your teens. However, you are the key to reducing teenage problems.
Having hormones and social pressures working against your teens is a double whammy. That’s why it’ll be doubly hard to talk about puberty while they’re going through it. The good news is that it’s never too late. The research is clear that parents are highly effective, both by the example they set and the words they say–and your words are much more effective and influential than your teens let on. Here are 6 practical things you can do that will help with your teen’s well-being.
1. Regular family routines
Teens are dealing with a lot of instability. Having regular routines (meals, chores, and errands) gives them a sense of security and solid ground in a world that appears chaotic. Regular routines are linked to a teen’s academic achievement and self-esteem.
2. Spending time together
They may be pushing you away, but secretly teens still want you to pursue them for time together. Time together makes them feel cared for. Research also shows that time with a parent helps motivate teen’s education and socialization.
3. Having high involvement
Parental involvement in high school increases the likelihood that teens will attend college, vote, and volunteer. Involvement lets them know they are not alone and they are worth your investment.
4. Supervising closely
Teens supervised by their parents closely are less likely to engage in early or frequent sexual relations, which leads to many teenage problems. A lot of teen sexual activity takes place in the afternoon when parents are at work. Supervision lessens their opportunities for sexual activity, but reminds them that they are being monitored.
5. Communicate and praise often
Teens live under constant pressure of wanting to be liked and accepted. Most of society writes them off and won’t listen to them. When you communicate with your teen (which includes a lot of listening) and praise them, according to research, they will be less at risk for delinquency and alcohol and drug use.
6. Give warm support with high demands
Teens whose parents give warm support simultaneously with high demands for appropriate behavior tend to be content, self-reliant, and self-controlled. In other words, set the bar for them, but be gracious and loving when they miss the mark. Think of yourself as a caring teacher with a student that needs help.
Many parents seem surprised to learn that their teens still care about their approval. But when a study conducted by the Institute for Youth Development (IYD) asked teens what factor most affected their decision about whether to have sex, thirty-nine percent answered that the morals, values, or religious beliefs taught to them by their parents influenced them the most. The parents’ role of instilling values in teens remains one of the most influential aspects of parenting.
The parents’ role of instilling values in teens remains one of the most influential aspects of parenting.
Tell us! What do you think teens need most from their parents?
Walt Larimore, M.D. has been called “one of America’s best known family physicians.” He is a nationally-known and nationally sought after speaker and health expert.