How do adults create an ongoing culture of support for the children in our community? The prominence of devastating teen suicides today sheds light on the fact that parenting tends to be governed by a futuristic focus for children, rather than one that supports the present life of the child. Desire for success and achievement of that child can erroneously outweigh the imperative attention needed to the process itself. The development of resiliency within a child is crucial to address frequently, rather than impulsively paying attention to the end result. Within the challenge of how to create a culture of support for adolescents, lies the answer.
Awareness, effort and action are crucial components in developing a culture of support for today’s adolescents. Establishing a safety net externally, but even more importantly, developing problem-solving skills and the increased ability for a child to rebound from disappointment or failure should take priority when raising mentally healthy and resilient children. If subjected to a culture whose focus is enticed and overly weighted by external resume building, the culture of support one desires to create will lack the substance, internal grit and confidence needed — particularly if the crucial development of a child’s need for self-management is ignored.
Below are a few tips to begin to create a more supportive environment for an adolescent in our diverse community:
- Be present in conversations with your teen … and I mean present. Take time to pause from what you are doing and model interest and respectful ways to engage in conversations or hear his or her ideas.
- Listen actively. Your teen is away from your eyes and direct contact a large portion of most school days. Think about how you hope for someone to be attentive and respectful of ideas and thoughts you have to share in your own work life. Model the same active listening for your teen.
- Parent your teen without conditions related to external achievement. If you raise your teen with a conditional parenting style, he quickly begins to perceive that your overall interests and attachment to him is about his successes rather than internal character and values.
- Provide verbal – not material – positive reinforcement for healthy choices or improved actions or efforts with challenging issues.
- Limit the consumption of immediate gratification and seek quality, long-term, reward-centered goals that could likely take a bit more time, allowing the process itself to teach patience, determination, and perseverance.
- Support your child’s developing self-management. Encourage your teen to create her own effective solutions, rather than taking the reins and solving her problems and challenges for her. If you must be a part of the process, work side-by-side with the focus towards teaching her positive solutions to challenging situations, rather than have her concerns and needs be successfully addressed without her involvement. Character builds true confidence rather than artificially padding one’s “resume.”
- Model and encourage open-mindedness around varying viewpoints both culturally and diversity based. Train your teen to feel confident and inclusive in this ever-evolving globally diverse world that he will continue to experience.
A culture of support is achieved by constructing an approachable and trusting environment with your teen. Relish in the sense of relief and peace that this long term investment can provide.
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LOS GATOS TEEN THERAPY CAN HELP!
Would you like additional guidance in this area? Los Gatos Teen Therapy provides individual teen therapy, family therapy, group therapy, parent support counseling, and in-home teen and family coaching 7 days a week, including afternoons, evenings, and weekends. For more information, contact us at 408.389.3538.