It doesn’t really matter how old you get, some parts of your teen years feel like they happened just yesterday. Certain days likely felt like the best ever. Other ones, though? You probably wanted to hide in a hole.
There’s no debating it. Adolescence — the teen years — can really suck. If you’re a parent now, watching your own kid go through it may be equally tough. What can you do to help them, though?
Before you throw your hands up, keep reading! There are many ways to help your kid navigate the turbulent teenage waters. Try these strategies below and your child might even thank you, eventually, for an adolescence that didn’t suck so bad.
1. Zap the Zits
Acne affects millions of teens. If your child is dealing with the dreaded “pizza face” problem, they’re not alone. That doesn’t mean they wouldn’t love to clear up their skin, though. Fortunately, there are several ways you can help them fight acne.
Over-the-counter products that contain salicylic acid are great options for mild to moderate acne. They help clean out the oil and dirt that clogs pores and prompts pimples. If your child has deeper cystic acne, they might need a prescription medication to get everything under control. In that case, have them consult a healthcare provider about the various available acne treatment options.
2. Demonstrate Confidence
The adolescent years are famously filled with self-doubt and a serious lack of confidence. With all the hormonal and body changes happening so fast, your kid could feel a bit out of control. Setting a good example for them to follow can be extremely helpful. They likely won’t let on that they’re watching you, but they are.
Help your child build a good self-image and avoid making negative statements about your own body or skills. Share stories about how you handled difficult situations in your teen years — talk about the outcomes, too. If your child knows they’re not the first person to face teen problems, they can handle them with more confidence.
3. Foster Positive Self-Talk
Do you remember thinking negative things about yourself as a teen? It hurts to think about, but your teen might be doing it, too. Help them flip the script on how they may feel about themselves. Guide them to use positive self-talk.
If they criticize their appearance or minimize their abilities, explain why those things aren’t true. Point out that repeating negative thoughts is harmful in the long run. Teach them how to switch their hurtful thoughts into positive ones. Show them how to replace thinking they’re not smart enough with knowing they can get good grades if they work hard.
4. Teach Assertiveness
Lacking confidence often shows up as a lack of assertiveness in some kids. As a result, it may be tough for teens to speak up when they need help or to defend themselves. Adolescence is the prime time to develop this skill, though. Assertiveness will make personal and professional situations much easier when they’re adults.
Being assertive can help your child in all sorts of situations. Teach them to use a confident, strong voice without yelling or being rude. Now is also the time to teach them how to say no to things that make them uncomfortable. Provide training time at home by presenting choices and giving them the freedom to say no.
5. Encourage New Activities
To keep growing their confidence — and increase fun during the teen years — encourage your child to try new things. They may be scared of screwing up, failing, or (worse!) embarrassing themselves. They’ll never know what they’re good at, though, until they spread their wings and give something a shot.
The new endeavor could be joining an after-school club, learning a musical instrument, or taking on a part-time job. Let them know they’ll learn new skills they can use and enjoy for a lifetime. In addition, the more things they do, the more people they will meet. That expands their friend group and gives them even more confidence.
6. Praise Them for Effort
Was everything you ever did as a teen a great success? Probably not — even if you tried hard, you likely had your fair share of near-misses or flat failures. Your teen isn’t any different. Even when they put forth their best effort, not everything will always go as planned.
For that reason, don’t save your praise for the times they win the gold medal or ace the test. Show them you value the time and persistence they put into their activities and schoolwork. Remember, your child can only control how much energy they invest. They can’t dictate an outcome. So congratulate them on their consistent hard work so they won’t get discouraged.
7. Offer Them Guided Freedom
As you’re helping your teen build their skills and confidence, there’s one big thing to remember. Now is your time to start letting go bit by bit. If you try to micromanage things, your kid will be less able to make smart choices by themselves. Still, you can offer plenty of guidance while you’re giving them newfound freedoms.
Whatever the situation, offer your child advice. Then, give them chances to test out what you’ve taught. This allows them to learn from their mistakes while you’re still close by for any additional help they might need. Resist the temptation to swoop in and simply solve problems. Letting your child navigate some situations on their own can help them develop more confidence and better judgment.
It’s no secret that adolescence is hard. Everything is changing, and nothing seems simple anymore. It may be difficult to watch your child struggle through the teen years. Just remember, you made it through, and they will, too. By trying these strategies, you can play a big role in making sure your teen thinks these years suck less.