Almost every parent knows there’s a fine line between helicopter parenting and lack of involvement. Finding a healthy balance between these two extremes is essential for effectively empowering your teen to develop a sense of their own identity. As you navigate your children’s teen years, it’s important to take things in stride, while providing consistent guidance and constructive feedback along the way. Here are some ways in which you can do this:
Address media influences. Unfortunately, teens of today are exposed to many bad examples in the media that can have a negative impact on their self-esteem. It’s almost impossible to watch a television show or scroll through social media pages without being presented with issues surrounding body image, alcohol and drugs, among countless others. Rather than try to prevent your teens from media exposure (which is sure to backfire), explain to them how the media industry works and that what they see is not a true sense of reality – or what they should aspire to emulate. Encouraging your teens to embrace their own identity and cultivate their talents is the best way to help them steer clear of the media’s damaging influences.
Give them the freedom to make their own decisions. Instead of telling your teens what to do, give them a foundation for making decisions on their own. For example, encourage your teens to find one or two interests or hobbies over the summer that interest them and have them develop a plan for how they’re going to pursue these activities. Is there a class they need to take? Will they have to practice several hours a week? Do they need to purchase equipment and how much will it cost? Giving your teens the freedom to chart their own course will hold them accountable for their decisions, as well as promote skill-building in many areas, including communication, time management and financial literacy. Most importantly, this sets the foundation for effective decision-making and self-advocacy in the future, which will be critical in college and adulthood.
Let them learn from their mistakes. You’re not going to prevent every mistake your teen makes – and you shouldn’t want to! Letting your teens learn from their mistakes is critical for helping them understand the consequences of their own actions and behaviors. These experiences also help your teen develop coping skills and learn how to handle disappointment. Unless your teen is in a crisis or dangerous situation, it’s best to be a source of support while letting them figure some things out on their own.
Incorporating the strategies above in your parenting style can be integral to empowering your teens – and helping them develop the resistance and grit they’ll need to overcome future challenges. Remember, every teen is different. Be patient and understand this process takes time!