By Erica Rood, M.A. Ed.
Adolescence is not a stage to simply get over, it is a stage of life to cultivate well….. If we see the adolescent period as just a time to wade through, a time to endure, we’ll miss out on taking very important steps to optimize the essence of adolescence –Dr. Daniel Seigel, author of Brainstorm.
How can you cultivate your son or daughter’s “essence” during the teen years? How can you truly optimize a stage that is so often filled with challenge?
Become your teen’s Parent-Coach!
As a Parent-Coach, you celebrate your teen’s budding independence and view your teen as an “adult in training.” As a Parent-Coach you provide the understanding and support your teen needs, leading to mutual respect, better communication and more compromise. You and your teen find the ability to embrace rather than fear the changes and challenges of the teen years.
Three Practices of a Parent Coach
“It’s who you are, not what you do that is important to me.”
Parent-Coaches understand the difference between pride and respect.
Showing pride in your teen can come across as patting yourself on the back. Showing respect for your teen is empowering. It solidifies her sense of self and boosts her self-esteem.
Action: Write down ten qualities that describe your teen’s strengths and values. Rather than expressing your pride in her accomplishments, try using the words “respect” and “honor” in acknowledgements of her unique qualities. For example, “I really respect your dedication to your friends. They are lucky to have someone so loyal.”
“Give me a moment to think about that.”
Parent-Coaches refrain from judging and resist the urge to immediately share their opinions and solutions.
Listen to your teen’s experiences with an open mind and open heart, and then take time to respond with consideration.
Action: When your teen shares, practice taking two deep breaths before responding. This allows you time to consider how to respond thoughtfully and non-judgmentally, and a moment of pause models calmness and non-reactivity, two skills she can practice in her own life.
“You’ve always been responsible so I believe I can trust you to stay out until 11:00.”
Parent-Coaches meet their teen’s needs by being fluid and flexible.
Your teen is wired to seek novelty and adventure. Learning from experience is key to becoming responsible and independent, but your teen also needs structure to help her cope with the new adventures in her life.
Action: Calibrate with your teen to provide appropriate limits and set guidelines, and be ready to recalibrate as she becomes more responsible and capable. By honing your listening skills, you will recognize when she is ready for more freedom and independence.
Studies have shown that teens expect their parents to play a pivotal role in their lives. They need (and secretly desire) additional support and guidance. When you become your teen’s Parent-Coach, you become the trusted adult with whom they can openly ask questions and talk about problems, hopes, and dreams. Moreover, you create a relationship that supports their willingness to be open to your wisdom and influence.
Need more parenting action steps?