We can all remember our teenage years, they were a time of intense emotions and self-discovery.
For some of us, they were great years but for just as many they were not fun.
As a parent, it is only natural to worry about the choices your teen is making and their process of self-discovery.
Sadly, there is no way to teach someone an important life lesson, they have to learn it themselves.
So, how do we allow your children to learn these lessons but do it safely and in a way that makes them stronger and feel good about themselves?
Well, here are seven tips that will help you do that.
#1 – Allow Them To Find Their Own Interests
Depending on the type of personality your teenager has, they may be more than happy to tell you when they are not enjoying a hobby or class.
Some teens won’t do this, however, especially if they think that quitting will leave you (the parent) disappointed.
When your child is getting older, try to make it clear to them that you want them to love their hobbies and not to do them because other people expect them to. They need to put themselves first.
Create a relationship with them where they feel comfortable telling you when things no longer bring joy. You don’t want to hold them back.
#2 – Encourage Their Curiosity
Teenagers have minds that have an amazing capacity for learning new things and for creativity.
This is why they are often looking for new ways to occupy themselves during this age. They are also trying to find themselves on top of all of this.
This is the time when it is most important to encourage them to try something new.
Talk to them about the things that are capturing their attention and interests.
If they seem nervous about trying new things – see if there is something they can try out with a close friend or even with you.
#3 – Allow Them To Feel The Consequences Of Their Actions
As much as you wish you could, you can’t teach your children the lessons you learned the hard way. They have to learn them themselves.
One of the most important things you can do for your children is to give them a safe environment for making mistakes in.
Let them forget their homework, and they will learn an important lesson about deadlines.
Allow them to have arguments with their friends and work out how to make amends.
But be there for them as they go through the consequences, help them reflect, and praise them when they make good choices.
#4 – Introverts Vs Extroverts
If you don’t know much about the concept of “introverts and extroverts” then it is worth looking into.
Parents often get worried if their child does not have a lot of friends but a very small group of close friends instead.
Or they get worried when their child prefers staying inside and doing activities like painting or reading – rather than heading outside and playing sports.
They worry that their child might be depressed, but they may just be an introverted child who likes their own company.
There is no point in forcing introverted children into situations that make them uncomfortable.
#5 – Don’t Burden Them With Your Expectations
Many of us are lucky to be more affluent than our parents were and this means that we can offer our own kids more opportunities than we got growing up.
This, however, leads to the temptation of either trying to live through our kids or feeling like they are ungrateful for not jumping at opportunities that you didn’t have access to.
Both of these possibilities are something you should try to avoid.
Remember, your kids have no idea what growing up was like for you and they may know how much it means to you that they have these opportunities.
#6 – Don’t Worry Too Much About College
You may feel like it is your responsibility as a parent to make sure that your child has a childhood that looks good on their college applications.
But this is a lot of pressure to put on yourself and your teenager.
Especially if they don’t know what they want to do yet. Many teens are able to get the experience they need for college through their high school education.
It is far better for your teen to have a fun-filled and mentally stimulating couple of years than to force themselves through activities they hate for college.
If they want to go to college then they will have 4 years of hard work ahead of them, you don’t want them to burn out before they get there.
#7 – Join Them In Discovering New Passions
Teens will feel more secure about trying new things and discovering new passions when they see the people around them doing the same thing.
Mirroring the way you act at home will make them feel more comfortable with their choices.
Take this as an opportunity to try out some new things yourself. Learn about a new period in history. Take up a new skill. Try a craft you have always wanted to do.
#8 – Base Family Activities Around Their Interests
Speaking of trying new things…
You want to make sure your teen and their new interests feel valued, so try to get involved with them in a non-intrusive way.
Try to base some of your family activities around what your teen wants to do.
This means they will feel like you are listening to them and you all get to spend some time together.
If your teen is really into cinematography or photography, why not go to an exhibition together.
If they like music, go look around a record store and pick out something to listen to on the way home.
There are so many ways you can make discovering yourself a safer and more enjoyable experience for your teen.
As a parent, you need to strike the right balance between allowing them to have their freedom, but not letting them completely isolate themselves from you and the rest of the family.