I think the most important goal for a parent with a teenager is having a happy teenager. In my work, I do a lot of research on teen happiness. In this article, I uncover the latest research and expert advice on teenager happiness.
The teen years are among the most challenging ever for families, let alone the young people themselves. With hormones raging and desires for independence and belonging conspiring to wreak havoc, it can be challenging to know what will benefit or hinder your relationship. My tips can help you chart a course through these years of change.
Spending time together
This is of the utmost importance. In studies, I see that young people who spend regular time with their parents are more resilient and have better social skills. This is because they learn to talk about controversial topics without getting angry.
It is wise to mark special occasions to make your teen feel part of the family. As teens get older, they may want to spend New Year’s Eve or Christmas Eve with their friends. Be clear about which events this is okay because you don’t want them to lose touch with the good things that come with being part of a family.
Interestingly, when people – both adults and teens – are asked to list the top ten moments when they were happiest, they mention shared experiences with loved ones, not products or consumer items. Ultimately, the biggest tip for parents and their children to be happy together is to have shared experiences. Do things together.
I also advocate lots of hugs. For a hug to count, it has to take seven seconds for the emotional contagion to work. When your teen comes home from school, don’t just grab them for a quick hug; hold them for seven seconds and squeeze! They may groan, begin with, but not after seven seconds because they will have melted.
Communication forges bonds. I recommend talking with boys in the car because you can do it without eye contact. Girls are more inclined to speak in restaurants and cafes.
Talk about anything and everything – not just school and behavior. Ask for their advice from time to time. This shows your teen that they can solve problems, creating new neural pathways in the brain. However, I emphasize that you must remain a parent. Don’t want to be a friend. Your job is to maintain boundaries, guide, and provide unconditional love. Later, when they are adults, you find Friendship.
But what can you do if your teen would rather sulk than talk? Experts warn that it’s vital not to dismiss negativity as hormonal. If they are grumpy or sulking, there is a reason for it. Even if that reason doesn’t seem necessary to the parent, it is to the teenager. So listen to your teen, talk to them about it, support them.
Another secret is to offer sympathy without advice. When they come home from school and say, ‘Ooh, she said that. And he did that,’ the best thing to do is not offer advice, but say, ‘Oh, poor you, that sounds awful.’ Sometimes they want your sympathy. If you keep trying to fix things, they will stop telling you.
Nip bad behavior in the bud
Habits that started during the teen years can become lifelong problems. So what can you do when your teen’s behavior is challenging?
I advocate allowing a confident attitude” because young people have difficulty reading emotions. But foul language is unacceptable. If they are rude or hurtful, you stop them in the first place. Then you let them know in a calm voice how that makes you feel and why. There is no point in criticizing something that has already been done. So advise for the future. Say, “I don’t like what you just said. It hurt my feelings. I know you’re having a hard time right now [showing some empathy and kindness], but the next time I talk to you when you’re reading a book, maybe you can talk to me more politely, so we both feel good at the end of it.”
Janey Downshire, co-author of Teenagers Translated: How to Raise Happy Teens, believes the underlying emotional need often drives behavior. The parent’s response will escalate or deflate the situation. “Don’t ignore the child or give in to the behavior, but be counterintuitive,” she says. “If they are angry, be calm. If they’re scared, be anchored, like a rock. Their control knob regulates it down to the adult they’re with.”
I recommend reframing what you see as “bad.”
For example, persistence is also determined. Can any of your teenager’s habits be seen in a different light? For behaviors, you find totally unacceptable, be firm and consistent in explaining why.
Teenagers need to go to school with their brain alert, which means sleeping well and having a purpose. “When you’re happy, your brain turns on. It’s more creative; it can see solutions.”
Sometimes it’s hard for teens to see the point of school. Some schools do this exercise where teens have to write down in one sentence what they want the outcome of their lives to be. We ask teens to write it on an A4 sheet and stick it in their bedroom.
A “killer” does whine about homework. You have to get teenagerss to want to learn it. You do that by encouraging their aspirations.”
Encourage exercise and hobbies.
Exercise has numerous benefits for teens. I don’t think most teens get enough exercise or sleep.
They need three periods of exercise every week to keep their brains and bodies working properly. The body needs to move. Look at what a dog is like when it comes home from a walk. Teens need to rest, water, move, and stretch to get the best out your teen. The interconnectedness between the body and the mind is profound.
In fact, any hobby that has a physical aspect is good because their body gets the natural chemical dopamine flowing, which the growing body needs for reconstruction. A hobby is teaching the brain to focus on a task and get lost in that task. It’s like the brain is a muscle – it’s the ability to focus and get absorbed in something.
And don’t forget to do your part. “You should praise your teen for the effort, rather than the talent.
If you’re watching your son play soccer and he puts the ball in the back of the net from 100 yards, you shouldn’t tell him, ‘Oh, you’re the next Freddy Adu. You’re a genius.
You should say, ‘You put that in from 100 yards. Good job. That comes from all the hard work and practice you put into it.
That develops a growth mindset, where the teen associates success with hard work and effort. Growth mindset, children tend to stick with problems longer and are more resilient.
Leading by example
Your influence is powerful. It would be best if you were a nudge, not a megaphone. Megaphone causes angry reactions and damages relationships because the child feels disrespected.
If you were friends when they were little, you would be again. Accept that you will never be “cool. Above all, make jokes about yourself – Let them think, “you are a boomer”’
One of the reasons why your kid is not happy is when he/she is being bullied.
WHAT IS IT? More than arguing, bullying is a powerful individual or group repeatedly bullying someone to intimidate them. It ranges from name-calling to spreading rumors, and typically in teens, it can be through posts on social media or threatening or demeaning text messages. Teens who are bullied become subdued, have lower self-confidence, develop sleep problems, withdraw into themselves, and spend more time alone. They suffer from stress, with risks to physical and mental well-being if the issue is not addressed. Yet, they find it difficult to admit they are being bullied because they are embarrassed or afraid of escalating the bullying.
WHAT PARENTS CAN DO
- Emphasize that bullying should never be tolerated. 2. Reduce the bully’s power by reminding him that his behavior is cowardly, especially if he is hiding behind technology. Make it clear that it’s not your kid’s fault.
- Encourage your teen to talk through the problem with a family member or school counselor.
- Notify authorities as soon as it comes to light – for cyberbullying, there are “block” and “report” features on Facebook and other social media sites. Also, Schools have policies to prevent bullying.
- Don’t retaliate, but record when and where each incident occurred; continue to take offense at texts and take screenshots of posts for evidence.
Read for more information our free Ebook cyberbullying>