Raising a teenager is one of the toughest jobs on the planet. You do everything you can to make sure they stay safe and healthy. And then a study comes out that states that happy kids grow up to be more successful adults. (Great, so now they have to be happy as well!).
It turns out that happiness is a big advantage in the real world. According to the study, happy people are more likely to earn a college degree, land a good job with better pay, and get promoted more quickly than unhappy people. So how exactly can you help your teenager transform into a happy and successful adult?
Part of being happy comes from knowing your own resilience; knowing that when life knocks you down, you’ll get right back up. Resilience isn’t a latent talent, but a skill that can be developed. Some people are more naturally resilient, but anyone can cultivate the skills to make it part of their way of being.
You can help your teen build resilience by teaching them how to put things into perspective. Being able to face challenges and adapt to constant change means recognizing the significance, or insignificance, of life events. Teach your kids not to sweat the small stuff and choose their battles wisely. The teen years offer lots of opportunities for this and, as parents, we want to allow them these experiences. The ability to rebound from a failure or struggle through something in the “low-impact” areas that occur in teen years helps them when much more is on the line in the future.
Feelings of accomplishment naturally lead to happiness. We feel good about ourselves when we are productive individuals. You can instill productivity in your child by helping them make decisions on their own over time. The more autonomy an individual has, the more able they are to get things done. That doesn’t mean we don’t set appropriate parameters – we know employers will have parameters that must be followed (like deadlines). So we set boundaries and help teens learn to live within them, while having appropriate autonomy.
It’s also important that you help your teen discover their interests, talents and abilities. People that known their passions and what makes them tick have a knack for reaching goals.
It may seem counterintuitive, but teenagers cannot gain independence on their own. They simply don’t have the perspective or experience necessary to separate from you. Independence is actually a gift you give to your children. You can help your teen become more independent by:
- Teaching responsibility – Help your kid have a clear understanding of what is expected of them at home and at school as well as the consequences for not fulfilling those expectations.
- Demand Accountability – Make sure you stick to your guns and see those consequences through to the end. If you don’t hold your child accountable for their own behavior and actions, how will they be able to hold themselves accountable as adults?
- Practice letting go – It’s important not to send mixed signals to your teen during this time. As you help them become more independent, practice letting them go. Be open to stepping back as they step forward.
You and your teenager are embarking on an exciting journey; one with many ups and downs. The best thing you can do is to let your kid know you are there for them and that they can talk to you about anything. Good communication is crucial during this time.
If you could use some help talking with your teenager, consider family therapy. A therapist can facilitate effective communication and offer tools that will help your teen become the adult they are meant to be. If your teen is going through some struggles, he or she may benefit from talking to a therapist individually, as well.
If you’d like to explore therapy with or for your teenager, I would be happy to see how I may be able to help. Call 919-891-0525 today for a free, 15-minute consultation. Appointments may be scheduled for my Wake Forest counseling office or online.. I’d be happy to discuss how I might be able to help you.