Do you have a teen that you are worried about? Are you noticing changes that seem a bit out of character? I think it’s time that you sat down and had a teen chat to discuss a few “coming of age” topics that your child needs to hear.
These are subjects that we just expect our little ones to know… but they don’t have enough “life” under their belts to have acquired the knowledge just yet. Our teens are truly stuck in this limbo stage – “the in between.” No longer our babies… but not quite adults either.
So, what can we do as parents? We take it all in small strides and we do the best we can at this thing we call parenting.
The One Teen Chat All Parents Need To Have Today
Personally, I’ve been dealing with several different struggles all at once. My teen is a beautiful, emotional, sensitive, spirited, joyful, talented – the absolute reason for my being!!! She is my best friend. I tell her that all the time. But as a mom, I’m so confused. This is all new territory for me. I’m just dipping my toes into the teenage years.
As I learn, I hope to share all that I can with you. We cannot expect our children to know everything because we don’t know everything ourselves. Parenting isn’t easy. I know this much is true. But open communication and endless trust and love can ease the transition.
I think a teen chat is exactly what the doctor ordered.
If you don’t even know where to begin, here’s a cheat sheet to help you get your teen chat started. Everybody’s parenting style is different. So, if any of these suggestions don’t work with your parenting beliefs, then please disregard. These ideas are what have worked for me and my family. I hope they offer you some help in your time of need.
You don’t have to fight every battle
We are kicking it off with a hard life lesson to comprehend. Teach your child to not be a “right fighter.” I started out my marriage as a right fighter and while I was actually RIGHT most of the time (sorry Bill, I just had to say it), it didn’t benefit anyone to always be arguing about absolutely nothing.
What’s the point of wasting time arguing about nonsense? This is something that kids need to figure out. Just because they are right, doesn’t mean they have to prove it. It is important to help your teen to recognize the difference between something that isn’t worth the effort vs. something that needs to be addressed.
Keep negative thoughts in your head
Teens don’t have much of a filter, do they? They are becoming individuals and have very definitive thoughts on everything they see and do. It’s best to keep the nastiest thoughts to themselves. This is an obvious one, isn’t it?
But my husband and I have found that this is a life lesson that needs to be taught over and over again. You don’t always have to announce that a dress is ugly, or that you hate pickles because you think they are absolutely gross (while your friend is enjoying a pickle for lunch). It’s important to keep other people’s feelings top of mind. Teach your child to still be opinionated, of course! But not at other people’s expense.
Stay positive in spite of yourself
These are the hardest years that our children have faced to date. These struggles are sometimes too much to handle. As a parent, it’s hard to watch. The best attitude to have is a positive one. I’m not saying we should shove down negative feelings and just pretend everything is dandy because that could lead to trouble in a very different way.
What I am saying is don’t walk out the door thinking you already will fail. That is the wrong attitude to wake up having. Life isn’t out to get your children and they need to know that.
Discuss suicide thoughts with parents or professionals
Your children are going to have terrible thoughts – ones that you aren’t going to be able to comprehend or accept. They will be real. Don’t downplay them. Don’t dismiss them. Listen and listen with a wide-open heart. The teen years can be so confusing! If you think your child would do better speaking to a professional, then get one ASAP. In the meantime, keep the channels open and clear.
Communicate every day about everything. Don’t harp on suicide like it’s the only thing that matters, but don’t dismiss it either. This is a delicate situation and you should absolutely seek professional help if you have a young child in your family that is showing signs of depression. The sooner the better.
Online imprints last forever
Ahh, social media. The worst. This is a critical conversation to have with your teen. Every Snapchat picture or Instagram Story is up for grabs. Nothing is safe. And guess who has the ability to see it? Your child’s future boss! They need to understand the repercussions of their online actions. If necessary, show them examples online of how quick and innocent uploads have caused people to lose their jobs and more!
Your peers need kindness too
If your children are going through hard times, odds are that their friends are too. I make it a point to tell my teen to reach out to her friends and connect on a daily basis. Everyone is dealing with something. That is a fact. A little kindness can go a long way.
You do you
This is such a great life rule. If there are kids that are going left and your child wants to go right, then teach her that it’s ok to do that. If she loves art and everyone else loves soccer, get her a set of brushes. We all know that this stage in life is short-lived! Let them enjoy it and give them the courage to do so.
Yes, friends are amazing. Friends are everything. But nothing beats time with the family core. So, those family game nights still need to be a priority. No electronics at the dinner table. And yes, Friday nights mean pizza time with your siblings! This is the way it is. Because in the end, family comes first and that is not a selfish thing to say.
Social media is a cancer
It’s so funny for me to write this considering that I work on social media, but I have to be honest here. Society hasn’t gained a thing from these online platforms that keep our kids connected 24/7. Bullying continues from offline to online.
Popularity contests are exploding to the point of nausea and there is no way out. I don’t know how to help you with this one because it is so deeply embedded in our culture. I would just keep reiterating to your teen that their online life is not REAL.
The most important moments are the ones that they live in ACTUAL REAL LIFE. That’s the message I try to repeat over and over again to my little ones. They know what I do. They see me in action on a regular basis. And even when I am filming a video for a major brand on location, I am shouting to them that none of it matters. What matters is what we do after the shoot when our phones are off.
Life goes by quickly. Enjoy it
Teens think that this is their life -right now. It won’t ever change. They won’t ever age. High school feels like forever. But we all know that this time in their lives is just a BLIP of reality. So, keep reminding your kids that while this time will fly by, it is so important to enjoy the little moments.
Rejoice in the fact that acne and braces and bullies will all disappear once school is out!! But don’t rush to end the sleepover parties and throw out the stuffed dolls that they hide under their pillows. Tell your teen to hold onto their youth because nothing is exciting about monthly bills and menopause. Nothing. Actually, is it strange that I am oddly excited about the thought of menopause? Is that weird to say?
Have a passion
Be a kid. Enjoy the time. Sleep in late on Saturdays. But teach your teen to have a passion that they enjoy. No matter what it is – enjoy something and strive towards achieving a goal based on that joy. Is it baking? Dancing? Basketball? Hockey? Debate? Chess? Rowing? An Etsy Slime Shop? I don’t care what it is! But do something and teach them to put their heart and soul into it. Teach your children this character trait nice and early and watch your little entrepreneur flourish!
Care. Care about everything you do
This is a hard one. Either you are born this way or you aren’t and I absolutely believe this. Teach your teen to care. Care about their room. Care about the way they dress. Care about how they do in school. Care about how they treat their siblings and how their closet looks.
Teach them to have respect for things and for themselves. Teach them to care about the company they keep. Teach them to care about calling their grandmother. Having a heart is the foundation of life. I ended this post with this one because I wanted you to remember this teen chat topic the most! Care. If you can get your teen to plug in then you have won half the battle.
Do you have any parenting tips that you’d like to share? Any parenting topics you think I should include in this list? I would love to hear your thoughts!