Parenting a teenager (or any child for that matter) is not an easy job, yet it is the most important job in the world. Parents are faced with daily challenges and decisions that need to be made based on their gut, intuition and common sense – as well as being based on the love and committment they have for their children. This sometimes leads parents to just want to make difficult situations their children are facing go away – why wouldn’t they? They love their children and don’t want to ever see them in pain, in trouble or suffering in any way. The problem is this however…pain, trouble and suffering are all part of the human experience. I know we don’t like to think about it but throughout our lives, we are always going to be faced with challenges, with situations that scare us and with situations that make us sad. These situations are part of life and we will need to deal with them when they cross our paths and children will need to deal with these same things when they are adults.
So as a parent, rather than rescuing your child from the tough stuff, you want to give them the tools they will need to deal with stress, frustration, fear, sadness and all the other things that WILL affect them in their adults lives. You will want them to learn the skills to deal with these situations when they are children, rather than when they are adults and the stakes are much higher.
Below are a few tips you can use when these difficult situations arise for your child so that you are teaching them skills that will benefit them for the rest of their lives:
1. Help them talk about the situation calmly: role model being calm yourself and help your child learn to express what they are feeling and what their dilemma’s are in a clear, calm manner
2. Help them review all options available to them: don’t give them the solution but rather, ask questions that will help them see all of the possibilities they have for solving their situation in a way that results in the best overall outcome
3. Resist the urge to give them the answer or to intervene on their behalf: try to hold back, even if it is difficult, and give them the space to try to figure out how best to proceed when they are in a difficult situation (obviously if there are safety concerns you should intervene and do whatever is necessary to keep your teen and others safe)
4. Offer suggestions for dealing with difficult emotions: children need to learn frustration tolerance and emotional management skills which will allow them to be more effective in managing difficult situations. Listening to music to calm down, exercising, talking, writing or journaling, distracting their mind, deep breathing and many other activities can help when emotions are high and thinking becomes clouded
5. Support them in developing a plan to avoid a similar situation in the future: rather than lecturing, blaming and telling them what they did wrong, encourage them to talk to you about how they think they can avoid having a similar situation happen again in the future.
It can be tempting to fix things and make life as easy for those people who you love the most, however, when you do that, valuable lessons get lost and the development of critical skills does not take place, leaving children without the necessary skills they need to be successful in their adult life. For more information and parenting advice, go to www.HowToParentATeen.com and sign up for our weekly Ezine and Free Audio Program: 3 Powerful Strategies For Parents Of Teenagers.