Dealing with a teenager is like walking on a tight rope—make one misstep and you’ll find yourself falling down. That’s because this juvenile phase in a person’s life is so delicate and fraught with so many changes happening and pressures vying for attention all at once. As a loving parent or influential person in a teen’s life, having the patience to understand her all the time may seem impossible. However, showing how much you care will eventually come easy and naturally, if you sincerely work at it one day at a time. Here are some basic goals you should start with.
- Be both caring parent and devoted friend. It is important to gain her trust as a friend by encouraging open communication. Tell her that you are open for any kind of discussion, from the mundane to the intimate and personal. Listen patiently, understand what she’s telling you, and don’t interrupt while she talks. Give advice when she asks for it. Share with her your thoughts and feelings as well. Be a role model of a parent at the same time and don’t do anything contrary to the values you’re promoting for her.
- Make quality time for your teen. Most teens grow closer with their friends and peers than with their parents because they spend more time with each other both in and out of school. It’s only natural so don’t think of it as having to compete in giving the most love and care. Instead, continue showing how important your teen is by doing activities that allow you both to bond and just be together like shopping or eating out during the weekends, watching a new movie or just simply hanging out at home. Every once in a while, do something different like indulging in a spa, trying out a new sport or game, or going on a random out-of-town trip. Even if it’s simple, she will appreciate that you made time for her.
- Strive to help her improve. Do not criticize harshly. Teens are sensitive to negative criticism. Make them understand that your goal is not to judge and be the bad guy in their lives, but to help them be better persons and do away with things that will only cause them harm. You can do this by acknowledging their strengths and positive traits. Encourage them to continue those. Choose your words wisely before talking to them about the negatives and things they need to focus and improve on.
- Get to know her friends. Not only will your teen appreciate it, but you will also get relief once you know the kind of friends she hangs out with. Invite them over at your home for some snacks, a homecooked meal, or an overnight stay. Make polite conversation and ask them about their families and interests, but know when it is to stop prying.
- Give her enough freedom and independence to find herself. Teenagers are allergic to authority figures, especially those who impose on them all the time. They need to have space to express their own thoughts, opinions, feelings, and even personal styles. Encourage your teen to find her own voice and develop her own personality whether it is through academics, writing, the arts, sports, and any other kind of endeavor she wants to pursue and pour all her ideas, energy and creativity into. Tell her that there are lots of possibilities before her and that you will be proud of her no matter what.
This is a time in a teen’s life when she’s discovering her own identity and beginning to develop a mind of her own. She needs someone who will constantly give her support and love through this phase of her life.