Teens need a new kind of parent. During a time of life that is ruled by uncertainty and change, teens crave the unconditional love of their parents, but they also need their parents coach, guide, and teach. They need a different kind of support as they navigate their way toward independence.
January Parenting Tip- Be Present and Calm
Despite their deep desire to be independent and free, teens appreciate a meaningful connection with a caring adult. As a parent, you are their number one caring adult and the way you show up matters.
Through my conversations with teens, I’ve learned that they are deeply appreciative when their parents are present and calm.
So how can you practice calm and present parenting, especially when parenting a teen?
- Breathe. The simple act of taking a deep breath invites the pause that is necessary for lowering the body’s stress response so you can reply thoughtfully and calmly to your teen. In fact, research shows that taking a deep breath helps you stay calm even when your children are pushing you to the edge. Deep, conscious breathing actually causes positive changes in the brain. As you take a deep breath, you can consider what your teen needs and how you can support her for success. It also teaches your teen how to effectively handle her emotional reactions.
- Heart to heart listening. You may be an expert in multi-tasking but teens can tell when you’re distracted. Make it a point to give your teen your undivided attention. Turn off the radio, phone, or television and tune into the present moment. Look your teen in the eye and face her heart to heart. Show her that you are interested in what she has to say. As you do, you will gain a deeper understanding of who she is and what matters to her, and she will respond by opening up more.
- Time out. When things get heated, give yourself permission to take a time out. Remember that most situations do not require an immediate response or consequence. Telling your teen that you need time to consider your best next steps or think about what she has told you, demonstrates your courage to solve conflicts in a respectful and non-reactive manner. It also sends a message that you want to show up for her when you are more clear and calm.
- Self Care. As the saying goes, “You can’t pour from an empty cup.” Parenting requires a huge amount of energy and dedication. It’s essential to carve out time to do the things you love. Foster supportive friendships. Protect your precious time by saying no to engagements or people that drain your energy. Nurture yourself in every way possible so you can be strong, calm, present and supportive for your teen.
Parenting is one of the most fulfilling, delightful, exhausting, and stressful jobs you will ever do. However, with support, new tools, and an understanding of what your teen needs, you will be able to truly enjoy your parenting journey and learn to love the teen years!