Be A Positive Role Model For Your Teen
By the time your children reach their teens, there is only a limited amount of time left to influence them and get them started in life in the right direction.
The teen years are a critical time for role models in your children’s lives. Often you will find teens have a hard time talking to their parents.
This isn’t always the case, but even in the closest families, teens often feel more comfortable talking to another trusted adult about some of the things going on in their lives.
Your teenager is watching you and learning how to behave like an adult based on your actions. Are you an ethical, tolerant and mature role model for them? In this stage between childhood and adulthood, your teen may appear to be a responsible young adult one minute and an immature rebellious child the next.
Keep your cool.
They still look to you for protection and guidance, even when they won’t admit it and a rational, calm and loving parent can influence their daily choices considerably.Being a consistent source of encouragement, rather than criticism will impact your relationship and ability to communicate with them and deepen their trust in you. Listening to their problems without judgment will likely be difficult, but is necessary if you want to keep the lines of communication flowing freely.
They will appreciate your efforts and respect your ability to keep your cool even when you don’t agree with their choices.
A Positive Role Model
Teens encounter a barrage of choices everyday. As a parent, you can tell them what to do in an authoritative manner (which will likely be met with anger and rebellion), you can hope they will make the choices you want them to make, or you can model the behavior you would like to see your child develop from the start. The best way to teach your teen positive habits and ethical behavior is to show them. Here are some general ideas and topics to think about and evaluate.
- Health: It is ideal for teens to see you taking good care of yourself. Let them see you taking responsibility for your health and fitness levels. This means a healthy diet and exercise and a positive attitude and self-image. Negative comments about anyone’s weight or appearance can deeply influence how your child feels about their own body. Obviously, avoid improper use of alcohol, and any use of tobacco or illegal drugs.
- Stress Management: If you can’t handle the stress of having a teenager, how can you expect your child to handle the stress of being a teenager? Find ways to manage your own stress levels and share them with your teen, or at least let them see you making the effort!
- Conflict: When handling conflicts with in the family and in the world at large, be fair, honest and control your temper. Take responsibility for any part you may have played in the conflict. Say you are sorry if you were wrong. Avoid yelling and screaming, as this will simply encourage your teen to handle difficult situations in a similar manner. Remaining calm through a difficult situation will limit the stress and intensity your teen feels and help them learn to control their emotions.
- Tolerance: Your teenager will take note of how you treat others. Go out of your way to be kind and compassionate. Using negative, derogatory or critical words in reference to other people will encourage the idea that it is okay to be disrespectful.
- Service: Help others. You can do this on your own or together. Find a community service project for yourself. Opportunities are available to give of your time in a manner that you will enjoy. Most teens feel passionately about something, whether it is animal rights, the environment, feeding the homeless or teaching children to read. Community service is a positive way to spend time with your teen and will help take the focus off of the me, me, me mentality that is so common in our culture. Contributing your time to help someone else will be a fulfilling experience for both of you.
- Learning: Make learning new things a daily adventure. Maintain a positive attitude about value of education. Continue to learn about new things for yourself, enabling them to see the value of lifelong learning.
- Listening: Listen to your teen and try to reflect back to them their emotions. For example responding with “that must be disappointing” when they have expressed just that. This will let them know that you are actively listening and understand how they are feeling. Sometimes that is all they are looking for from you. Don’t follow up with a lecture! This will show them how to be a good listener and build communication skills.
The more you can help your teen develop their abilities now, the less they will have to do on their own later (often, the hard way).
And don’t forget, you are a role model too. Get involved in the lives of your teen’s friends, or volunteer to help in a group activity in some way, even if only occasionally. There are teens out there who really need to hear what you have to say.