Raising an emotionally secure teen
Instilling a strong sense of identity and worth can cultivate emotional resilience in your teen.
Parenting teens in today’s world can be a challenging prospect. According to experts, teens today feel more stressed, overwhelmed and generally face greater emotional difficulties than the generations before.
A teenager with a positive sense of self-worth is more likely to overcome the common emotional minefields that he and his peers have to navigate through on their journey to adulthood.
Take a grace-based approach to parenting teens
There have been many articles and books written about the various parenting styles, and their pros and cons. Often our parenting styles are influenced by our own personality traits and how we ourselves were raised.
Sometimes the teenage years can be a cause for great parental anxiety as our children experience greater freedom - some of us might even instinctively want to tighten the reins on our kids at this stage! Here, it’s worthwhile to consider a grace-based approach to parenting teens.
Grace is defined as ‘kindness’ and ‘mercifulness’ – the exact opposite of harshness. By creating an atmosphere of grace in your home, you ensure that your teenager will feel confident that they can turn to you in times of trouble. This certainly does not mean that parents should clear up any fallout from bad decision-making! Rather, your child can face the consequences of their actions in a safe manner.
Give teens a sense of value
Our children need to feel valued – particularly in the teenage years where they might feel most awkward. Where does your teenager’s sense of value stem from? Does it come from a sense of achievement or knowing that they are loved and accepted just as they are?
One mother shared a painful experience of how her 16-year old son had started out as a cheerful and sociable young man, but became depressed and felt worthless when he did not fare well in the national examinations. She realized that his sense of self-worth had been based on his exam results. She then began to intentionally rebuild his sense of self, emphasizing that he was loved and accepted for himself.
One simple way to show your teenager that he is valued is to carve out daily time to connect with him. This can be a simple conversation in the car, or over the family dinner table. Take time to understand their likes, dislikes and deepest thoughts – when your child feels heard, it builds his self esteem.
As parents, it is tempting to constantly focus on the areas for improvement in our teens’ lives. Do you find yourself making a mental list of all the things that your child is doing wrong, or could be doing better? Stop and steer the conversation in a positive direction.
Make it a point to identify your child’s strengths and talk about them as well – be specific as you point out instances when your teenager’s strengths have shone through. Your teen will gradually begin to see himself through the same positive lens.
Parenting a teenager is no easy task, but taking these simple yet significant steps will draw you closer to your child – and gradually help your child to discover and develop their full potential.
Used with permission from Focus on the Family Singapore. For more information on family life resources and workshops, visit www.family.org.sg.
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