How to be your teen’s biggest supporter
One of our most popular parenting tip reels (we upload these regularly on our Instagram account in our Equipp Tips series) talks about always supporting your teenager, no matter what. (Here it is if you want to listen.)
View this post on Instagram
It really struck a chord with our followers, and we were so pleased. We don’t claim to be parenting experts and never will. But as we often say, between us we’ve raised 5 teens to be really good and kind people. Parenting positively isn’t easy; we know it takes an extra level of awareness, self-control and empathy to be consistently positive. But in our experience it’s most definitely worth the effort.
“It may feel like they’re trying to push you away, but they’re actually trying to push themselves away from you to choose a direction in life, and to shape an identity for themselves as a separate, independent person. Love, support, trust and optimism from their family make them feel safe and secure, and are powerful weapons against peer pressure, life’s challenges and disappointments.” ReachOut Parents
So, how can you be your teen’s biggest supporter?
Make sure they know that they always have your support
We all want to teach our teens to behave responsibly. It can be tempting, when they tell you about issues and problems, to jump straight in and tell them how they should have responded. But that’s not what they really need. They need you to listen carefully to their side of the story without judgement, to understand how they feel about it and to sympathise with them.
Then you can help them work out the best way to deal with it, now and in the future. They’ll be much more open and trusting to working with you if they feel you’re on their side.
We’re not saying you need to accept bad behaviour or always believe them without questioning. Just that they need to know that your priority is to be there for them, to support them and to listen to them. And always will be.
Help them realise that their opinion matters
Again, the key here is to really listen to what they have to say, whatever they’re talking about. Of course, you know more, and have experienced more, than them. But their thoughts are equally valid, and they deserve a fair hearing and a calm, reasoned debate on all topics.
It also helps to ask their opinion on family matters, from small to major. It encourages them to understand adult life, and really gives them a sense that what they have to say is important.
Give them responsibility
In our blog on summer activities for teens we suggest letting your teenagers take over the family budget for a week, or take practical and financial responsibility for a room makeover. This type of project not only keeps them busy, it provides a sense of self-worth.
All teens want to feel grown-up and if they prove to you they can be trusted and act sensibly, it’s helpful for everyone. And if they struggle a little, then that will help them realise they’re not quite an adult yet!
Be fair when things go wrong
As we said in another recent parenting tip video on Instagram (you really need to watch these!), “the first time is a mistake”. It’s easy to judge and think that because problems could have been foreseen, they should have been avoided. It’s just not that easy and it isn’t always down to a lack of care or attention from your teen.
The main thing is that they learn from their mistakes and avoid making them in future. Help them gain the benefit of experience, knowing that you will be fair and reasonable when things don’t go quite to plan.
Make sure they don’t worry about what can’t be undone. Avoid labelling them as stupid, careless, clumsy or anything that will haunt them for years. And above all, don’t be critical of them in front of their peers.
You can’t praise them enough
Everyone loves praise and it’s especially important for teens to hear positive feedback, when they are so full of self-doubt. Make sure it’s meaningful, though. Praise their hard work, effort, kindness, sense of humour and empathy as well as their achievements. You know them better than anyone and will know their secret talents (we all have them!). Make sure they know these are seen and appreciated.
Make sure they know you love them for exactly who they are.
Praise yourself too
Be the role model you want your teens to have. Be positive about yourself. Don’t put yourself down. Forgive yourself for mistakes, big and small. Show your teens how important it is to have faith in yourself.
We know that a lot of this isn’t easy – trust us, we’ve been there! But we also know how useful it is to get a gentle reminder every now and then that it is HARD being a teenager. And that they’re happier (and you will be too) when you’re their biggest supporter, their most enthusiastic cheerleader, a constant listening ear. Though there are bound to be difficult days, weeks, months, if you stick with it you will build a trusting relationship with your teen that will really help them as they become the wonderful adults you know they’re destined to be.
Louise & Anna x
A little bit about Equipp
We’re Louise & Anna, mum to 5 teens and young adults. We set up Equipp to help spread happiness and positivity amongst today’s amazing young people. We believe it’s vital that every teenager is given confidence to believe in themselves. Telling them how wonderful they are and putting a daily smile on their faces via the cards and gifts they receive from Equipp is integral to everything we design and produce. Have a browse around our collections of birthday and teenage milestone gifts and please do get in touch if you have any questions or would like any recommendation.
We love to celebrate teenagers in every way, and are building a community of parents who feel the same. We hope you enjoy reading our blog posts and we’d love it if you came and joined us on Instagram or Facebook to chat about parenting teens.
Oh, and we’re raising money for a fantastic teenage suicide prevention charity, Hector’s House, with a donation from every purchase from Equipp.