From the time a child comes into the world, there are many stressors that will be dealt with: parents, siblings, animals/pets, thriving, trying new foods, learning limits and boundaries, being on a schedule, growing up just to name a few. As the child gets old, there are more stressors and the pressure can be more overwhelming, intimidating and difficult to handle.
It appears to be that when the child is learning about his/her new life with sleep schedules, trying new foods, learning to stand, crawl and then walk, that the parents are always encouraging, giving reinforcement and yes, giving the child consequences if they happen to crawl on the furniture. But what about when the child approaches the teen years?
The teen years appear to be the time when there are the majority of the stressors of a person’s life, and it’s multiplied by 1,000! Peer issues, school schedules, pressure from parents to “do better,” relationships, and just figuring out the wonderful and raging hormones! That is very difficult.
So, why is it that at this time in the life of the child, who is now a teen, the coping skills are not well developed, especially if he or she had been encouraged as a child to strive and do well? I’m not really sure of the answer, and there may be multiple answers, but I do have some ideas to help parents and their teens to still have positive coping skills for when life is stressful.
- Parents can help their teens to cope with life stressors by listening to them. Parents do not always need to give advice, and the teen may not want the advice but may just want to be listened to. Teens want understanding and their feelings validated.
- Assurance that the parents are behind him or her can also help. Understanding that when a girlfriend or boyfriend breaks up with your teen, it truly hurts! Assurance that the teen can get through that painful situation even if at the moment it appears to be hopeless. The validating and listening described in #1 can help this transition time and help teens remember that their parents do care for them.
- Parents can help their teens by being involved in their lives. I’m not saying total involvement but being aware of what is happening in their lives, asking about it. Teens may not always want to have their parents know their business, but when parents ask, the teens are usually willing to talk. Communication is key.
- Let the teen “fail.” If he doesn’t study well for a test and he gets a poor grade, remind him that you believe in him/her. He may not need a lecture to study better at that point, just a validation that you know he can do it better next time.
Teens feel that their lives are in ruin when things go wrong and some teens think that NOTHING will get better. It’s the parents’ job to help their teen get through this part of life, not doing everything for them but to encourage their teen that they can get through the hardships in their lives, and they will be stronger for it.
Remember, as you encourage your child to crawl, walk, do something on their own; a teen needs to have similar types of encouragement and doing things on his/her own and learn how to cope when things do not always go as well as hoped.
© Copyright 2010 by Kelly Sanders, MFT, therapist in Rancho Cucamonga, California. All Rights Reserved. Permission to publish granted to GoodTherapy.org.
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