The teenage years, oh, what a rollercoaster ride!
Raising a teenager is like navigating uncharted waters. It’s a journey filled with twists and turns, ups and downs, and, at times, moments that leave you scratching your head. Your kid, once your little Bubba or Sweet Pea, is transforming into a mini-adult right before your eyes. One day, mac ‘n’ cheese is their all-time favorite, the next day, they can’t stand the sight of it. They might toss out an attitude for no apparent reason or retreat to their room, declaring they want to be left alone. You might find yourself thinking, “I wasn’t like that when I was their age,” or perhaps you’re having a déjà vu moment, recognizing them doing the same things you did back in the day.
But you know what? It’s all okay. Every visible change, every quirky habit, and every mood swing – it’s all part of the journey known as adolescence or “the teen years.” Keep reading as we delve into how to navigate this adventure. Remember it’s the journey, not the destination. It’s about caring for them, loving them, guiding them, and, of course, setting those boundaries that teenagers need as you both navigate this whirlwind phase of life as they become an adult.
Navigating the Emotional Roller Coaster
Your teenager is on an emotional roller coaster, riding the highs of newfound friendships one moment and plummeting into the lows of academic stress and identity crises the next. It’s a wild ride, and it’s not always smooth. But in the midst of this chaos, healthy relationships act as a lifeline. Whether it’s a trusted friend, a caring family member, a mentor, or their counselor, having someone they can confide in is like an emotional safety net. It helps your teen process the whirlwind of emotions and gives them the confidence and strength to keep going. Feeling heard, understood, and supported is like their emotional anchor. It keeps them safe, loved, and listened to.
**Teen Tip: Let them know it’s ok to have all the big feelings but not let them hijack their day-to-day life. Feelings are just feelings, they’re neither good nor bad. They just are. It’s what we do with them that counts.
Self Confidence and Figuring Out “Who Am I?”
Adolescence is a bit like a quest for the Holy Grail, but in this case, it’s about discovering who you are and where you fit in the grand puzzle of life. Healthy relationships play a pivotal role in this epic journey. Positive feedback and affirmation from friends, family, and mentors can be like a superhero cape for your teen’s self-esteem. It’s the kind words and love they receive that help shape a positive self-image and set them on a path of personal growth and self-awareness.
**Teen Tip: help them explore who they are with love and boundaries**
The intangible art of dealing with people is something teens will learn to grow into. Shoot, even some adults are still figuring that one out. Right? If you as a parent or loved one can offer safe practice arena for honing these skills, all the better. Ask them about how they could have had conversations differently before you give them “well you should have…” or “you shouldn’t have…” Practice with them or show them how to interact with others in areas such as how to have disagreements, how to apologize, how to make small talk, or use “i feel” statements when they’re having those big feeling moments. It’s like training for the big game, teaching them to express themselves, understand others, and even tackle conflicts constructively.
Boost their EQ (emotional intelligence)
Now, EQ is like having a superpower – the ability to recognize and manage your own emotions and those of others. It’s a life skill, and healthy relationships are like the dojo where your teenager can hone this power. They learn to empathize with the feelings and experiences of their friends and family. They also gain insight into their own emotions and discover how to navigate them effectively. Think of it as a priceless treasure for their future.
Peer Pressure and Decision-Making
The teen years often come with a side of peer pressure, kind of like the extra-spicy sauce on the teenage life sandwich. Your teen may face decisions with some serious spice and long-lasting consequences. Healthy relationships can be like a trusty shield, offering guidance and support when your teenager encounters peer pressure or makes those big, life-altering choices. Trusted friends and mentors become their allies, helping them make informed decisions and resist the spicy, not-so-great influences. This leads to healthier life choices, just like choosing a milder sauce on that sandwich.
Boundaries, Boundaries, Boundaries
Boundaries are like the invisible fence that keeps everyone’s emotional gardens safe. They help you and your teen establish wise and loving limits. They’re crucial in any relationship. Teens in healthy relationships learn the art of setting these boundaries, ones that protect their physical and emotional well-being. Often boundaries become visible when we say ‘yes’ or ‘no’ to something. They also get the lowdown on respecting the boundaries of others. This skill not only makes their personal relationships smoother but also sets them up for future adulting like a pro.
Success In School
The support and encouragement your teen gets through healthy relationships can be their can be their success in the world of academia. A strong support system can motivate them to excel in school, conquer the homework dragon, and slay the exam monsters. As a parent or mentor, you become their guiding wizard, offering tips and tricks to make their academic journey less daunting.
**Teen Tip: Tell them all that matters is that they try their best. Please don’t pressure them. If their best is B great, if it’s a D, that’s OK. All they need to hear from you is well done, I’m proud of you for struggling through that class, or I’m happy you did your best. Don’t create anxiety in them by putting too much pressure on their academic success. They’ll be fine. (The author of this post had a colorful report card and in high school got under a 3-point GPA, got a legit F in college pre-calculus at a private liberal arts college, and ended up on the dean’s list in grad school. They now own a multiple six-figure soon be seven-figure business.) Again, your kid will be fine and end up where they will be. It’s your job to support them not criticize them or put unrealistic expectations on them.**
Managing Risky Behavior
We’re most like who we surround ourselves with. Help your teen think about that. Talk with them, as a neutral third party about people they hang out with. It will make a difference. Encourage them to be around different people, but people that align with your beliefs and values. If you can guide them through that process they may be less likely to take a walk on the wild side with substances, get cozy too soon with that boyfriend/girlfriend, or embrace their inner rebel. The emotional support, guidance, and sense of belonging they find in these relationships act as shields, protecting them from choices that could potentially cast a shadow on their future.
Help Them Think Beyond Themselves
Yes, teens can be super selfish, but if we’re honest so can adults. From a brain development perspective, teens don’t have the ability to really do this until they are 15/16 years old. That’s just part of life and we can’t change it. But we can help them become the heroes of their own story. By joining alongside them as they witness the struggles, joys, and experiences of their friends and family, teens gain a broader perspective on the world. They become more compassionate individuals, superheroes who understand the pain and joy of others. These qualities aren’t just important for their personal relationships; they’re essential for making the world a better place.
**Teen Tip: Have them pick out a project that would benefit others like making a water filter or a place they would want to help volunteer at. Remember, it may not be your idea of volunteering or helping someone or your cause. Let them pick.**
Relationships with Others
The relationships your teenager forms during adolescence often serve as models for their future relationships. Think of these relationships as the blueprints for their future connections. Teens who experience healthy, supportive, and respectful relationships are more likely to seek out and maintain similar relationships in adulthood. They are the architects of their own future, less likely to tolerate or perpetuate abusive or unhealthy behaviors in their future relationships.
Begin Working with A Teen Counselor in Grand Rapids, MI
The teenage years are a roller coaster of transformation. As a parent, your role is to provide love, guidance, and boundaries as your child becomes a mini-adult. Healthy relationships offer emotional support and resilience, boost self-esteem, shape social skills, and foster emotional intelligence. They act as protective shields against peer pressure and risky behaviors, setting the stage for future connections. Consider scheduling a therapy appointment with therapists for teens at Great Lakes Wellness Counseling to support your teenager’s emotional well-being and personal growth during this transformative phase. Embrace the journey and guide them toward a future of healthy relationships and self-discovery with our team of therapists. Start your therapy journey by following these simple steps:
- Contact us or call (616)202-1910 for a free consultation.
- Make an appointment for the first therapy session.
- Start modeling healthy relationships for your teen!
Other Services Offered by Great Lakes Wellness
Teen counseling isn’t the only service offered by Great Lakes Wellness. Our team is happy to offer support with a variety of mental health services including couples therapy, Christian counseling, men’s counseling, women’s counseling, and child therapy. We also offer assistance for depression, and grief as well. Please feel free to visit our blog for more support today.