You probably love your teenage child unconditionally, and that’s wonderful. Still, it’s important to tap into that potential for all its worth, and the way to do that can be through understanding them better.
It can sometimes seem like you speak a different language to your teenager. You may love each other, but it may sometimes feel like they don’t like you at the same time. Turning things around here can be challenging, as you may be keen to establish a bond that’s more than just obligatory affection. You should be friends with your teen, as well as your family.
So, how can you better get on their wavelength? Consider the suggestions below.
Look for Troubling Signs
We know you care about your teenage. Our intention isn’t to make you paranoid about their well-being or to assume the worst, even though many parents can do that alone.
Still, it’s undeniable that US teens are suffering a mental well-being crisis that not all of them will freely talk about by their own volition. So, you need to create a safe space for your child and let them know that no problem is too big or small to be brought to you.
Look for signs of any potential struggles here. Are they going out with their friends less, or do they have friends at all? Do they often fidget? Could they sometimes be quick to anger? How often are they playing video games? These are all signs something could be wrong. Try to be there for them and recommend seeing a mental well-being professional together. That way, you can bring clarity and let them vent.
Consider Your Own Behavior
Part of the reason for checking in with your teen’s mental well-being first is that it can recontextualize all of your interactions with them. If their attitude isn’t the best temporarily, you can be more patient with them and not take any temper flare-ups personally.
It’s not just about them, though. What about you? Some parents can feel like their teenager hates them, and intrusive thoughts make them think, ‘my teen hates me’. Even though your child might occasionally say the word hate themselves, they don’t often mean it, if ever. Read advice about what you might have done to bring things to that point; do you often criticize or continually nag? Are you demanding they live out your dreams rather than theirs? Do you put too much emphasis on academic achievement?
Your teens will likely appreciate you more if you can reflect on your own behavior. Parenting is a learning journey for both you and your child, and you should sometimes embrace the fact that they know when you’re being unreasonable. You won’t always know better, and that’s okay.
Talk About Social Media
What happens online can be taboo in some households. However, much of a teen’s mentality can be shaped by what they consume online.
There’s an interesting dichotomy at play here; though teens are increasingly using social media, they still don’t trust it completely. If that contradiction goes unchecked, teens can soon become confused and anxious.
Talk with them about what they’ve seen online. Relay your own experiences, and ask who they’re talking to. As you can see, they already know when something’s amiss – they may just need you to cement that understanding.
How To More Sensitively Understand Your Teen is a feature post