It can be easy to look at your teenager and see them as all grown up. They’ve got their own personality, their friends, their beliefs. They’re strong and independent and will tell you so at every open opportunity. But not only are our teenagers still kids, but they’re also only human. And this means that they’re bound to struggle in at least one way or another.
While every family is different and each teenager has specific needs, here are a few things that you can do to help guide them through adolescence and gain the skills they need to be successful in early adulthood.
1. Hire a tutor.
If your teen seems to be acting out in school or when it comes time to do their homework, this may be a sign that they’re struggling at school. Some kids struggle in the sense that they don’t grasp the material and fall behind, while others understand the material and find it boring and can’t be bothered to do the work to stay afloat. Whichever group your teenager falls into, talk to their teacher or teachers about hiring a tutor.
Some schools might have tutors available for students on campus, but you could also consider seeing a math tutor online so that your teen can catch up or advance ahead of their peers from the comfort of your home and take the stressor of being at school out of the equation. An experienced online tutor will be able to provide your teen with homework help, as well as advance them in geometry, algebra, calculus, and whatever other math problems they want to focus on.
2. Consider therapy.
There’s often a stigma around therapy and seeking professional help when it comes to mental wellbeing. But sometimes the best option for your teen is to talk to someone objective who can help them learn how to cope with the stressors of daily life and the new responsibilities of growing up. Often times, seeking help for troubled teens is the best way to help set them on the right track, and give you the tools to help them within the family framework as well. Many counselors or therapists will offer a free consultation and can help you identify behavior problems and strategize how to refocus your teen’s life.
3. Encourage communication.
Your teen is probably attached to their phone at all hours of the day, talking to their friends and scrolling through social media. But they don’t just crave communication with their peers — they also want to talk to you. Establishing a routine that includes open communication from all parties, with a willingness to listen and respond with tact, will show them that you are interested in who they are as a person and what they have to say. Try not to shut down everything you disagree with. Instead, ask questions and be willing to see points of view you might not have considered before. Show your teen that they can come to you to talk, regardless of what is bothering them.
4. Know when to walk away.
Sometimes what your teenager really needs is just a moment or two to cool down. While communication is vital to making sure your family runs smoothly, it is also important to know what to stop prying and let them come to you. Obviously, if you think they are in danger, getting them to open up to you sooner rather than later is important, but otherwise, show them that you respect their space and are willing to talk when they are ready. Take a step back and look at it from their perspective: are you more likely to open up to someone who is prying and breathing down your neck, or would you rather come to someone who you know you can trust to give you space?
Raising a teenager can be hard, but it doesn’t have to be the hardest thing you ever do. Treat them like the young adults they are becoming and trust them — you might just be surprised by what you see.