teenagerFrom finding independence to dating, the teen years will bring about a lot of exciting changes in your children. You’ll probably begin to notice that your teenager is less dependent on you and may want more time alone or with friends. As they begin to form their own identity, don’t be surprised that their interests in clothes, friends, music, and hobbies change. Hopefully, you’ve already been guiding them towards positive choices.

Some of the more challenging aspects of raising teenagers deal with mood swings and back talk. What you may perceive as “disrespectful behavior” is your child trying to assert their independence. As they are slowly coming into their own, it’s normal to get mixed messages from them. One day they want to be with you, and the next, they don’t want to have anything to do with you. It can be a total roller coaster ride. Speaking of roller coasters, teen years are also known as the thrill-seeking years, which can naturally make parents concerned about experimentation and increased safety risks such as car accidents and binge drinking.

Show Interest in Your Teen’s Life and Activities: It’s important for your children to know they are supported. Get involved in their extracurricular activities. Attend their games. This will give attention to the positive choices they’re making in life. If your teen has a job or volunteers, talk to them about expectations, responsibilities, and proper work etiquette. Celebrate small wins at schools and work with them.

When your child is going through struggles, it’s more critical than ever for you to show your support. Listen to them whole-heartedly without shooting down their concerns. Even if you disagree with their opinions, respect their perspective. If they are depressed, it’s ok to ask them if they are having suicidal thoughts. This will let them know you care about how they are feeling. Quality time and affection are also very important. Spend time doing things you enjoy together.

Encourage Your Teen to Volunteer: Plenty of studies have shown that volunteering in adolescence yields positive outcomes during teen years and even adulthood. In general, people who spend time volunteering also have a more positive academic, psychological, and occupational well-being. Teens who volunteer are also less likely to become pregnant or use drugs, and are more likely to have a greater leadership skills, stronger work ethic, and respect for others.

Talk to Your Teen About Important Life Topics: Conflicts happen at every stage of life. Now’s the time to help your teen problem-solve and develop conflict-resolution skills. This means giving them opportunities to use their judgement and make good decisions, even if you have to let them fail. Talk to them about making smart decisions involving peer pressure, sex, driving, drinking, drugs, and social media usage. Ask them how they feel about those things and share your views with them.

To learn more about Raising a Well-Rounded Teenager, read the entire series including how to support their mental, physical, and behavioral development.