The teenage years are tough for both parents and children. You can help support your child through tough times by sticking to the fundamentals and keeping your eye on the bigger picture. While teens may seem sophisticated in their tastes, the things that make them truly happy are surprisingly simple.
Studies show that teens need a stable family life. While you may want to give them more freedom as they get older, try to maintain some modicum of structure in the home. This means that school nights are sacred, there are a certain number of family meals a week and chores have to be done in a timely fashion.
Teens increasingly turn to the internet for research and studying and while that is a positive use of technology, try to limit daily social media and entertainment time. A couple of hours a day is fine, but more than that, studies show, may have a depressive effect on teens.
Instead, encourage sports, extra mural activities, hobbies and visits from friends. Physical exercise, creative play and social interaction all help to create happy, healthy teens.
Studies show that families who eat together enjoy a happier life and better relationships. Teenagers who share at least three family meals a week have higher academic scores and fewer behavioral problems.
Students who ate more family meals at home were less likely to suffer from obesity and the National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse at the University of Columbia discovered that students who eat with their families are less likely to drink, smoke or use drugs.
Communication is key, but it can be difficult when the conversation is one-sided. Take time every day to chat with your teens, even if they aren’t as responsive as you would like. They may shut down in ‘interrogation’ style conversation, so do an activity together like cooking or going for a walk where it may be easier to engage with them in a less formal setting.
There is plenty of stress and pressure at school and even in social circles, so make sure that home is a safe haven for your teens. Keep the mood light and have fun, keep nagging to a minimum and always treat them with respect and love.
Lead with Love
Even though they shy away from affection, find ways to show your kids that you love them. Tell them often that you love them and provide a steady supply of hugs and kisses, even if these have to be in a text.