How to Raise a Happy Teenager
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. In an ideal world, school nights should be sacred, family meals should happen more often, and chores should be done in a timely manner.
Teens increasingly turn to the internet for research and studying and while that is a positive use of technology, it is important to try to limit the use of social media and entertainment time. A couple of hours a day is fine, but more than that, studies show, may have a negative effect on teens.
Instead, encourage sports, extra mural activities, hobbies and visits from friends. Physical exercise, involvement in group activities, and social interaction all help to create happy, healthy teens.
Studies show that families who eat together enjoy a happier life and better relationships. It has been shown that teenagers who attend at least three family meals a week have higher academic scores and fewer behavioral problems.
Students who are at home for family meals are less likely to suffer from obesity. The National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse at Columbia University discovered that students who eat with family members 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 in social circles, so make sure that home is a safe haven for your teens. Keep the mood light and have fun, be cognisant of incessant questioning, try to talk about positive topics and always treat them with respect and love.
Lead with Love
Even though your teen may 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. Try and kiss them in the morning, evenings, when dropping them off at school, and when greeting them from school. Try to compliment your teen by recognizing even the most minor of accomplishments. Externally they may not respond to you at all, but on the inside they are smiling!