How You Can Help Your Teen


The teen years can be the most difficult ones for many parents. You want your child to succeed, you want them to know you love them, but they often are difficult to reach. At the same time, they find it hard to take advice and can be self-destructive. How can parents help teens through this time without alienating them when they push away? Harvard University Professor Nancy Hill recently conducted a study that points the way to some key approaches.

Independence With a Safety Net

Scaffolding is a new term for helping teens to achieve independence. It is basically being there as a safety net but also letting them fail and try again as part of the learning curve. Kids have to try, and sometimes fail, in order to learn. But letting your kids fail is one of the hardest parts of parenting. Begin by giving them options you trust and letting them choose. As time goes on and they learn from these choices, you can grant them wider autonomy.

Parents Help Teens with Structure

Even if your kids don’t seem to want it, structure is a very big part of their lives right now. You may not think they want that rule about homework getting done each night, but they need it. Sometimes you may have to let them struggle with class assignments. If they ask for help, give it. But if they don’t you may have to let them struggle until they are ready to admit they need your help. In the meantime, they are learning about actions and consequences.

Teach Education Breeds Success

For many teens school seems pointless. If you can show them the direct link between what they are learning now and education and success later, it will motivate them. Discuss career goals and how doing today’s homework will link to tomorrow’s goals.

The Important of Love and Warmth

Teens thrive on support and love. They may not seem to, as they push themselves for the big flight out of the nest. But studies have shown that teens that had support and a warm caring family are more likely to succeed in life. Yes, it may seem like just the opposite is wanted when they turn away from your hugs, but just remember. Hugging a teen may be much akin to hugging a cactus, but it doesn’t mean that cactus doesn’t need that hug. Unconditional love is the one thing you can give your kid no matter what your financial circumstances, and it is the one thing they truly need to thrive.

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