The teenage years are not usually what parents are looking forward to. Most people associate teenagers with crazy hormones and bad attitudes. But there are a lot of great things that come along with it as well. Your child is entering a new stage of life and preparing for adulthood. They are growing into the person they're going to be, which can be fun to see even if it's somewhat challenging. To make the most out of these last years you have before your child becomes an adult, here are seven tips to help you with dealing with teenagers.
1. Remember That Challenges Have Changed for Teenagers
Yes, teenagers still have some of the same challenges that the age group has had for centuries. Things like acne, hormones, trying to fit in, and wondering if that boy or girl is interested in them. But technology has brought with it a whole new set of challenges for teenagers, and with it has come increased levels of anxiety and depression.
With access to social media, teens are always under the stress of looking right and saying the right things in front of peers, along with the constant fear of judgment. And, it's a complicated situation because removing them from social media altogether also causes them stress and anxiety.
2. Look for What You Have in Common
Being a teenager is hard. Many feel that their parents don't understand them and that they have nothing in common. It can help you connect with your teenager if you look for things that you have in common. It could be something as simple as sports, music, or a certain type of food. Once you've discovered the things that you have in common, make time to enjoy whatever it is together. Find events that you can go to together, shows you can watch, or even just the latest news about it so you can talk about it.
3. Remember To Listen Without Judging
It can be frustrating when you're trying to talk to your teenager about specific topics. They don't always have the best communication skills, and they don't always care to hear what you have to say. But you must let your teenager know that you are available to listen if they need someone to talk to.
But, here's the most essential part of listening to your teen. You must make sure that you listen openly without judging. If you constantly criticize them, insult them, or tell them why they're wrong about what they're telling you, then they aren't going to keep coming to you. Before giving advice, ask them if they want your opinion.
This is a fine line to walk because you're their parent, so it's still your job to guide them and correct them when necessary, but they are also reaching an age where they must be learning how to think and process through things on their own.
4. Teach Them Life Skills
When dealing with teenagers, it's important to remember that this is your time to be teaching them what they need to know to be successful. Stop doing everything for them and, instead, teach them how to do things on their own. Teach them how to cook, create a budget, do laundry, and clean a house. You can teach them how to check the oil in a car and call to make a doctor's appointment.
It's not that you need to quit doing anything for your teenager, but you want them to be learning how to be a successful adult. They need to have life skills, so when they hit 18 and are ready to fly the coop, you don't have to worry that they don't know what to do. And, with each new skill that they learn and master on their own, they will continue to build confidence in their abilities. Self-confidence goes a long way in fighting against things like anxiety and depression.
5. Start to Give Them More Freedom
If you've been raising these children for years, then you're used to setting rules for them. But as they mature through the teen years, you must start to give them more freedom and fewer rules. This doesn't mean that you back off entirely and let them have complete control. But it does mean that you need to find that balance between establishing the rules that need to be in place still for their safety along with allowing them to have control and decision-making power in the other areas.
It's a two-part system:
6. Allow Them to Make Mistakes And Fail
One of the toughest things as a parent is seeing your children fail at something. You don't want them to feel any of those painful emotions. You don't want them to be embarrassed, frustrated, or to struggle. But if you continually bail them out and do things for them, so they don't fail or make mistakes, they'll never learn how to succeed on their own.
With the ever-growing problem of anxiety and depression around the world, your teenagers must learn that they aren't going to get it right every single time. They need to learn that perfection isn't something to strive for. If they think that things always must be perfect for them to be acceptable, then it can lead them to mental health challenges and low self-esteem. However, if they learn that failing is part of life and it's OK because they can try again, it will help them to build real confidence in themselves and their abilities.
7. Celebrate Who They Are
The teen years are a difficult time of trying to find out exactly who you are. Many also struggle during this time because they're trying to figure out who to fit in with others. A part of healthy self-esteem is knowing who you are, including your imperfections and quirks, and being OK with them.
If you are continually trying to correct your teenager and turn them into something or someone else, you're going to hurt them. But if you celebrate the person that they are, they will have a much easier time learning how to love that person as well. Teach them that the difference in each person, including them, are important and part of what makes the world successful and unique.
Warning Signs to Watch For
Some levels of anxiety are normal for everyone, including teenagers. But the number of teens experiencing unhealthy anxiety and stress along with depression is alarming.
There are plenty of treatment options to help teens with mental health challenges. But the Child Mind Institute has found that the majority of children that could be diagnosed are not getting the treatment that they need. Here are some signs to watch for that indicate you should help your teen in seeking treatment options:
If you notice these signs, it's time to start a conversation with your teenager and can be helpful to make an appointment with a mental health professional. And remember to trust your parental instincts. You may have a feeling that something is not right with your teenager, even if you don't know exactly what it is and don't notice the signs above. Don't ignore those feelings and suspicions. It's better to act on it and talk to your teen then to ignore it and find out later that there is a serious problem.
Talking to A Therapist
Raising a child of any age is challenging. When they hit the teenage years, you must adjust to a whole new set of challenges. This can be a trying time for you as well. If you're struggling with your stress and anxiety levels as you parent your children, don't be afraid to reach out to a therapist. ReGain has online therapists that can help you with your family relationships and your mental health.
Remember, your children, including teenagers, are watching you see what you do. If you reach out for help when you need it, you set the example for them that it's OK to get help and that therapy is a good thing.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
How old is a teenager?
The term “teenager” typically refers to people between ages 13 and 19. While only one term is used to describe all of the people in this age group, though, it’s important to remember that within those eight years, there is a lot of development and growth that happens. So, even though a 14 year old and an 18 year old are both technically teenagers, it’s important to note that those two people will be in very different stages in terms of mental, physical, and psychological development.
What it means to be a teenager?
By the most general definition, being a teenager simply means being a person between the ages of 13 and 19. However, popular culture has added a lot of new meaning to a word. Teenagers, according to what we see in TV shows, movies, and literature, are often portrayed as moody as rebellious. These descriptions aren’t totally inaccurate, but they do leave a lot out. Even music of all genres, including rock like My Chemical Romance Teenagers, rap, country, and soul.
During the teenage years, a person is working hard to develop their own independent identity, separate from that of their parents or whatever social circle they were brought up in. This quest to establish identity is stressful and often met with challenges, so it’s no wonder that teenagers have a reputation for being difficult to deal with.
The famous song by the rock band My Chemical Romance Teenagers describes this time in life as a time when society is especially overbearing. It describes the difficulties of “finding yourself” in the midst of a society that says “teenagers scare the living shit out of me.” The song from My Chemical Romance Teenagers describes how society is working against the individuality of the teenager who is seeking independence. Many teenagers feel this way, and that struggle has come to define what it means to be a teenager in this day and age.
At the same time, the teenage stage is full of passion and joy. There is so much to discover, and it’s often the first time that many people are given the freedom to discover it firsthand for themselves. So, even though being a teenager means facing some of the more difficult parts of life for the first time, it also means experiencing some of the best parts of the human experience with a fresh and joyful perspective.
What's it like to be a teenager today?
Parents of teens nowadays may or may not be surprised to learn that being a teenager in this day and age is different than it was for the past generations. While the teenagers of today are often characterized as oversensitive “snowflakes,” they actually face a whole new world of problems that teenagers in that past didn’t have to.
The first thing is constant exposure to the world and all of its problems. This is, of course, thanks to the internet. The teenagers of today are constantly connected. While this can be beneficial for learning and communication, it also means that they don’t have a real “safe space” anymore. In the past, teenagers could go to their room and lock the door. Nowadays, even that locked door doesn’t keep out cyberbullying or the constant deluge of news and updates that they get straight to their phones. This constant exposure and lack of safe space are exhausting for teens nowadays.
Another big aspect of being a teenager today is high expectations. Whether this pressure comes from parents, the wider social circle, teachers, or other leaders in their lives, teens today feel a tremendous pressure to succeed. Colleges are more competitive, the economy is forcing many teens to start working before they graduate, and all of those things really add up. It contributes to poor sleep habits, which have a huge effect on a teen’s developing body and mind. This constant pressure is one reason why anxiety disorders and mental health issues are said to be on the rise in teens today.
And, even though teenagers nowadays are facing these new pressures and problems, they’re still faced with the age-old hormones. During the teenage years, a person’s body starts producing hormones in new levels that prompt the body through puberty, from adolescents to adulthood. These hormones can affect a teen’s mood and physical well-being. It’s a big reason that teens are often depicted as moody or sulky, and one reason adults might feel an aversion to teens like it’s described in My Chemical Romance Teenagers. So, teenagers nowadays are faced with a lot of new problems, as well as classic hormones. All these factors make being a teenager today more difficult than it was in the past.
Is being a teenager easy?
If you ask a teenager or anyone who’s ever been a teenager, you’ll quickly learn that being a teenager is not easy. Just like in My Chemical Romance Teenagers, teens often feel the pressure from society to conform even though they don’t want to. This external conflict is only half of it, though. A teen often feels the internal conflict of trying to find themselves, too. So, the external conflict with society and the internal conflict with themselves makes being a teenager anything but easy.
Why is teenage life so hard?
So if we know, it’s not easy, what makes it so hard? Again, the lyrics to My Chemical Romance Teenagers can shed some light on the situation. Not only are teens faced with the growing and changing body, plus all of the hormones and effects that the process brings, but they’re also facing a lot of experiences for the first time.
For example, the teenage years are the time when most people fall in love for the first time. This is a beautiful experience, but it can also be confusing and exhausting. Plus, there’s the pressure of school, work, getting into college, and moving out of their parents’ house that comes to define many people’s teenage years. Plus, don’t forget to add peer pressure to the mix. Teens are under constant pressure from the countless streams of input around them, whether that’s their friends at school or influencers on social media.
This rush of new experiences, the pressure that comes with growing up, and constant flow of input from everywhere they look make teenage life especially hard.
Why are teenage years so difficult?
One of the biggest reasons that the teenage years are so difficult is that the teenager is trying to establish their own identity in the midst of a society that seems like it just wants them to conform. In My Chemical Romance Teenagers, this sentiment is really clear: the teenage years are difficult because the teenager feels that the whole of society is standing against them. While this may not be the reality, it’s a perception that is shared by many teens and then perpetuated in popular culture.
What are the disadvantages of being a teenager?
A quick listen to My Chemical Romance Teenagers will give you several disadvantages. For example, just as the song expresses, many teenagers express that they feel society is scared of them or standing against them. So, they feel the need to respond with displays of force or power. The song also explains another typical response of teenagers: “they could care less.” Teens may feel at a disadvantage because instead of listening to them, society just dismisses them. This can be particularly frustrating for older teens who think more like adults than children, and who are earnestly trying to contribute to society and solve problems.
Teenagers may also feel targeted, as is again expressed in My Chemical Romance Teenagers when they sing, “Maybe they’ll leave you alone, but not me.” Teens feel that they are at a disadvantage because, especially nowadays, they are left to deal with the consequences of previous generations’ bad decisions. At the same time, those same older generations refuse to take them seriously. This is probably the most significant disadvantage of being a teenager.