Raising independent teenagers

by | Nov 5, 2020

Your love and support are essential for your child’s self-esteem. Young people who feel good about themselves often have more confidence to discover who they are and what they want to do with their lives.

Your child might not always want physical affection from you. But you can show your love and support by:

  • taking a genuine interest in your child’s interests, hobbies, and friends
  • making time to listen when your child needs to talk
  • giving your child space and privacy
  • regularly saying, ‘I love you’.

Respect your child’s feelings and opinions
Try to tune into your child’s feelings. It might help to remember that your child could be confused and upset by the physical, social, and emotional changes of adolescence. Your child needs your emotional guidance and stability during this time.

Taking your child’s opinions and ideas seriously give an important boost to her self-esteem. Your child’s opinions might be different from yours, and more like those of her peers. This might be hard to handle, but exploring opinions and ideas is one of the ways your child works out where she fits in the world. And if you have a difference of opinion, it’s a good chance for you to talk about how people often have different perspectives and that’s OK.

Talking about your own opinions and feelings calmly can help to keep the lines of communication open, and model positive ways of relating to others.

Establish clear and fair family rules
Clear family rules about behavior, communication, and socializing will help your child understand where the limits are and what you expect. Rules will also help you be consistent in how you treat your child. Once the rules are in place, apply them consistently.

Your family rules are likely to change as your child develops. As children get more mature, they can make a bigger contribution to the rules and the consequences for breaking them. Involving your child in developing rules helps him to understand the principles behind them. Every family has different rules. You can talk with your child about this and explain that his friends might have different rules, or a different number of rules.

If you set the limits too strictly, your child might not have enough room to grow and try new experiences. This period is a learning curve  for both of you. Be prepared for some trial and error.

Treat your child in a way that’s appropriate for her stage
Younger teenagers might think they’re ready to make their own decisions, but they often haven’t developed the decision-making skills they need to handle significant responsibility without your help. It can be a good idea to explain to your younger child why younger and older children are given different amounts and types of responsibilities.

It’s likely that the independence your child wants – and the amount of independence you want to give – will change as your child goes through the teenage years. Be prepared to adjust and keep negotiating as you move together along the learning curve.

Help your child develop decision-making skills
When your child needs to make a decision, a problem-solving approach can help her develop independent decision-making skills. This involves:

  • finding out about different options
  • talking about the pros and cons of different actions
  • weighing up the pros and cons to make the best decision
  • brainstorming what to do if things don’t go according to plan
  • giving your child feedback on how she handles the process.

You can also include your child in family decision-making. This is another chance to boost your child’s self-esteem, and show that you value his input.

When it comes to big decisions that affect your child, try to make those decisions with your child, not for her. These might be decisions about school, further study, staying out late, and so on.

Weil College Advising

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