When they were young, being supportive was so easy. They brought their artwork to you and you adored it. They sang to you and you swooned. They showed their fears and you propped them up with your confidence in their ability to learn and grow and overcome their challenges.
But the challenges were so much simpler then.
Now, your teen stands on the edge of adulthood. You know that the consequences of their actions and decisions now could shape the rest of their life. Their indecision could keep them from getting into the best college. Their fear could keep them from getting the best job. Their focus could keep them from gaining the skills they need to be successful.
Your anxiety is high. Their anxiety is higher. Why? Are these things even true?
The short answer is no. Just as when they were younger, the best thing you can do to help your teen learn and grow and overcome their challenges is prop them up on your confidence in their ability to find their way.
Success is intangible; it looks a little different to everyone. And the paths to it are many, varied, and growing in multitude every day. As a matter of fact, in today’s global economy, the most successful individuals are those who are empowered to create new paths, new options.
Remember, the more support your child receives from you, the more they learn about trust. Trust builds confidence, a key ingredient in success. One which takes time to grow and cannot be learned as easily as facts or technical skills.
There are many ways to be supportive of your teen’s development in high school.
- Create a home-school connection. It’s so important for teens to learn to view the different components of their lives as pieces of a whole. Too often, the true inner life of a developing teen gets lost in the gap between home and school. Creating a strong home-school connection helps bridge that gap, and helps keep that inner life in the light of the teen’s development – and your relationship.
- Model Organizational Skills. Especially for creatives, timeliness and organization are difficult skills to hone. They’re also universally imperative. An organized teen becomes an organized adult, and research shows that organization staves off common maladies like depression and chronic stress. There’s a fine line, however, between modelling organizational skills and nagging. Organization can look different from person to person. So, instead of dictating an organizational style, explore your teen’s style with them. Help them develop that style over time. It’s a great opportunity to be thrilled with their quirks they way you were when they were younger.
- Help your teen stay motivated. In high school, your teen is navigating so much. Making sense of the present, preparing for the future. Fresh out of childhood, they’re expected to lay the framework for a sturdy adulthood when the only thing they know about being an adult is you. That’s why you’re so important. Teens tend to compare, and allowing them to compare themselves to you simply isn’t good for anyone – they’re a different person. Instead, learn your child’s joys, their aspirations, and remind them from time to time what they’re working toward. There may or may not be a well-defined future ahead of your teen at this point. But there is always a next step. You can help mitigate frustrations and teach them to keep their eye on the ball by encouraging them to remember why their hard work is so important to them.
- Listen. This can be the hardest thing for a parent to do well. You want to show, you want to teach. You’ve been there, done that, and you know the way to overcome these troubles. But really, you only know the way for you. What your teen needs is the confidence to figure it out themselves, the trust to be allowed to figure it out themselves, and a place where they are safe to celebrate wins and throw up their hands at setbacks from time to time; a place free from judgement or even unsolicited answers. Sometimes your teen may not even have anything to say. Listen to them anyway, listen to their expressions and feelings. Give them smiles and hugs, no strings attached. This is how your teen will learn to keep stress low, build relationships, and solve problems on their own. In other words, this is how they’ll learn to be successful.