Almost everyone will agree that life is stressful, and when you’re the parent of a teen, the stress can exponentially increase. If your teen is struggling with acting out, mental health issues, substance abuse, violence or criminal behaviors, then you understandably have even more concerns. However, you can minimize some of those worries by dealing with your own stress.
Keeping Open Communication Lines
Ask your teen if he or she wants to grab a bite to eat or a fancy coffee drink. While they might reject your offer, at least they know that you are available. Keep mealtime free of distractions – no TV or other electronics that can limit conversations. Sometimes the subject of the conversation is not as important as the fact that some type of conversation is occurring. In some cases, outside help might be necessary to open up the lines of communication.
The Importance of Timing in Difficult Conversations
You can wait to discuss difficult topics until you are up to having the conversation so that you are in a better frame of mind. You will be less likely to react to your teen and will instead respond appropriately and calmly.
Find Common Interests
Talk to your child about something you both like. When you can discuss non-threatening topics, he or she might feel comfortable in discussing more sensitive topics.
Practical Solutions for Your Teen
The following practical tips can improve your relationship with your teen:
- Establish structure and a secure environment with some level of predictability.
- Limit screen time, including television, computer, video games and time on the phone.
- Encourage activities, such as musical involvement, clubs, teams, sports and exercise. Each one of these can go a long way toward boosting morale.
- Limit sugar and processed foods and work on eating right.
- Establish consistent bedtimes.
- Teens need extra sleep in order for their growing and changing bodies to function properly.
Practical Solutions for Parents
You will need to take care of your own personal needs so that you can effectively manage stress.
The following suggestions can help:
- Find a support group of other parents, either online or better yet, in person.
- Take time out for yourself each day.
- Meditate, pray, read, take a bubble bath or take a walk.
- Just make sure to do something that you enjoy.
- Exercise when you can even if it’s just for 20 minutes three times a week. A short work-out will boost your morale.
- Seek professional help if you find yourself spiraling downward into depression. Find someone that knows how to help you for more information. Remember that this situation is not permanent, and you will survive and even thrive.