Is having a happy teen a concern for you?
We’ve already established that the teenage years can be difficult ones.
A happy teen is one who is confident in your love of them and has a healthy level of self esteem.
Parenting teenagers is a juggling act of knowing when to step in and give guidance or enforce boundaries, and when to step back and allow some freedom or mistakes.
There’s no denying it is made easier if you can maintain and build on the great relationship you developed when your teen was a child.
Related: How to Deal with Teenagers?
If the relationship is currently strained or seems completely lost, don’t give up. With consistent effort it can be rebuilt.
Show your Teenager you Love Them
In any relationship, love needs to be confirmed by actions. It’s easy to say “I love you”, harder to be consistently available, affectionate, and engaged in the other persons needs and wellbeing.
- Tell them you love them (not in front of their friends) every day.
- Give them hugs – boys in particular will shy away from this, but sneak one in whenever you can.
- Let them eat rubbish occasionally. Pizza on a friday night once a fortnight.
- Make time to help them with their homework or hobby.
- Be available to take them to outings and activities.
- Have a photo of them in your wallet and on your desk or locker at work.
Praise your Teenager
- Be proud of your teenager’s accomplishments.
- Talk about how much effort when into it and how much has been achieved.
- Tell your teenager how much it means to you.
- Make sure the praise is deserved or it can be seen as shallow or that you really don’t care. For example, if your teen came last in a sprint race and you slapped them on the back and said “Wow, that was fantastic! That was great!” they may just become withdrawn and upset. They know it isn’t realy true. If you put your arm around them and said “Hey, I’m so proud of the way you kept on running and didn’t give up” they will know you are on their side and love them.
- Likewise, be careful of praising appearances. Teenagers are notoriously sensitive about the way they look. You may have introduced your 5 year old daughter as “My beautiful girl” but your 13 year old will hate it.
Be Careful how you Criticize your Happy Teen
How do you not criticize a teenager? Everything they do, everything they wear, and listen to…it often clashes completely with what we would like them for them.
Remember, they are their own person. Your daughter may be dressed to go out in a skimpy top and mini skirt. Do you just grit your teeth and say “have a good time” or take her back to her room to try again. Is she 12 years old or 19?
When you are parenting teenagers you need to be able to step back and ask yourself:
- Is this part of being an individual?
- Is it putting them or anyone else in danger?
You expect to be true to yourself don’t you? So do they.
There’s no harm in making your feelings clear, as long as it isn’t part of a personal attack.
Your teenager can never live up to everything you want. It only leads to disappointment on your part and leaves your teenager feeling that they aren’t good enough.
Spend Time with your Happy Teen Every Day
- Drive them to their activities or visits. They are stuck in a car with you; they may even speak to you!!
- Have dinner or other meals together as often as possible. Don’t fuss too much over table manners, keep it relaxed and offer up some of your own news as well.
- Take them out. Go to a movie or have a coffee or milkshake together.
- Maintain some of your old bedtime routine. They don’t need a story and tuck in anymore, but you can still have a quick chat about the day, tomorrow and sneak in a kiss goodnight.
Show your Teenager you are Proud of Them
- Praise them for their successes – but also let them know you are proud of who they are – a unique individual.
- Notice something they are good at and ask for their help or advice about it. For example, they may have a broad knowledge of current music trends so ask them to get a collection together for your workout or for the family holiday.
- Collect photos, certificates, and clippings of anything to do with successes in their lives and record in all in a special album.
Your Teenager will Make Mistakes
Understand that they will make mistakes and fail at times.
This is the best time for it to happen. You are there to support them and help them to get themselves back on track for another go
Share in your Teens Interests
- Know who your teenager’s friends are. At least know their names and what they’re interested in. Allow them to visit and get to know them but try not to embarrass your teen.
- Keep up to date with current music trends. Listen to the music your teen likes.
- Take the time to watch their favorite TV shows with them sometimes. Try to keep your thoughts to yourself if you don’t like it, try to understand why they do.
- Take them to their sport or activities. Be encouraging and supportive but avoid giving advice and coaching unless they ask.
- Set up regular movie nights, either at home or at the cinema, and take turns to choose the movie. Use it as an opportunity to talk about what they liked or didn’t like
Respect your Teenager’s Need for Privacy
Decide on how much privacy and space you can give your teenager based on how responsible they are and their age.
- As tempting as it may be, their diaries and private things are just that – private.
- Knock and ask if you can come in before entering their room.
- It’s important to know where they are going and who with for safety reasons, it’s not helpful to interrogate or they may just start lying to you anyway.
- Internet connected computers should be kept in a public part of the house.
Never Give Up on your Teenager
Your teenager is very good at acting like they don’t care or need you. Put aside any differences you may have in opinions or tastes and be part of their lives.
Work on your relationship with your kids and enjoy having a happy teen in the house.
As we said at the start of this post: A happy teen is one who is confident in your love of them and has a healthy level of self esteem.