Raising teenagers is hard with a capital H.
It’s a rollercoaster ride of hormonal meltdowns, epic eye rolling and pushing boundaries. And unfortunately, this often means we spend more time than we’d like nagging, lecturing and enforcing consequences.
But at the end of the day, no matter how crazy they drive us, what our teens need more than anything is our encouragement and support. They need to feel loved, despite their struggles and our own struggles with them, too.
So, remember to look for the good that is there within them too and make sure they know you see it. Take whatever moments of peace you find with them such as a drive to school, during one of those fewer and more far between family dinners or even as you pop in their room to say goodnight.
Be sure you’re making time between the eye rolls and the lectures to tell them these important things…
1. I’m Proud of You
Every day brings new challenges our teens have to figure out and muddle through. We might know about some things, but we’re not always aware of all they experience and the difficult decisions they make every day. Point out some of the good things they accomplished that day so they feel seen and validated by you.
Let them know you know how hard they are trying and you see them doing some really great things. Identify a few you know they need extra encouragement in, like doing well on a test in a really hard class. Maybe they are training hard in their sport or perhaps they were able to manage their time well that day. They need our attention and ongoing support, so give it to them daily.
2. You Handle Hard Things Well
Our teens will face a myriad of difficult issues as they grow up through these teen years and we need to make sure we praise them for handling whatever hard things they experienced on any particular day. Did they make a tough decision that took a lot of courage? Are they struggling with a class or maybe a friend? Did they have a tough day at their job or have a conflict with a coworker? Perhaps they had to face a consequence for a mistake they made that was difficult to accept.
Being a teen takes a lot of hard work and when they accomplish something that was difficult, we need to praise them. And even when they didn’t do something successfully, we need to acknowledge their efforts, because growing up is all about messing up and trying again.
3. You Are Beautiful
We may not want our kids to measure their worth in their appearance, and of course, focusing too much on it would do just that. But the truth is their appearance matters to them- a lot.
Telling our teens how beautiful or handsome they are might boost their self-image and maybe even help them start believing it themselves. Compliment their physical attributes and be specific. What features were they born with that will never change? Point those out regularly, so they begin to recognize those physical traits are unique to who they are.
And remember, no matter how much they shrug off your compliment, it means something to them. Promise.
4. You Belong
Our teens have a strong need to feel they belong somewhere and often they don’t feel they belong anywhere. Other times, they are so desperate to find somewhere to fit in, they will do anything to be a part of something and this can lead to some really poor choices.
It’s an exhausting road to try to fit in when you’re growing up and still trying to figure out who you are and how the world works. Tell your teen how important they are to the family; how much they belong and always will. Sure, they may not show it, but knowing this gives them the security they need.
5. You Are Enough
Our kids struggle with so much self-doubt and low self-esteem as they get older. They wrestle with all their faults and flaws constantly. They compare themselves to other kids their age and this often leads them down a discouraging road of feeling defeat. They are their hardest critic- picking apart every detail of who they are and often they forget their own strengths because they’re too busy focusing on what they don’t have.
We need to point out those positive qualities in who they are and the incredible potential in who they’re going to be. Everyone has weaknesses and wants to improve on some things, but take time to focus solely on those character traits that make your teen unique and special. They need those reminders all the time.
6. No Matter What, I Love You
Our teens will mess up at some things, fail miserably at other things, and have all kinds of bad days. Their behavior can cause a ton of stress and erupt wildfires of fury too. It’s hard parenting a teen, but even harder being one. These are tough years all around, but we must anchor our families in the one thing that binds us together through it all, and that’s an unconditional, relentless, unchanging, everlasting love. Even on those really hard days, make sure your teen hears that they are loved no matter what they do. Tell your teen that you love them so much because they are your child and you will never stop loving them. They need to hear this more than you know.
This is a contributed post by Christine Carter. She writes at TheMomCafe.com, where she hopes to encourage mothers everywhere through her humor, inspiration, and faith. Her work is published on several various online publications and she is the author of “Help and Hope While You’re Healing: A woman’s guide toward wellness while recovering from injury, surgery, or illness.” and “Follow Jesus: A Christian Teen’s Guide to Navigating the Online World”. Both sold on Amazon.