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.