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Building Resilience In Your Teenager

Resilience is definitely the buzzword of the moment. But what does it mean and how can you practically implement it in your household to help your teen battle the challenges that lie ahead.

As our society has grown and developed we have been able to shield our young people more easily from the negative things in life, like disappointment, failure, rejection and pain.  It is amazing that we can protect our children from these negative experiences, but how does that impact them when they enter the real world of employment, serious relationships and other life experiences?

building resilience in your teenager - girl at desk studying

Here is my three-point plan to help you support your teen to increase their resilience:

1.  Support

Even if you are extremely time-poor as a parent or as a family in general, you can still be there to support your teenager. And it doesn’t have to be 24-7. Quality time is important for any teenager, no matter how much they deny your help!

Be supportive, but always offer constructive feedback. I always use the sandwich feedback formula ie: say something positive, then something constructive and then end with something positive again.  By protecting your teen from negativity and constantly praising them for minor things you could be setting them up for a shock when they enter the real world.

Employers often criticise the gap between confidence and competence in young people entering the workforce. Entering the job market with an inflated sense of entitlement will end up with your teen having to learn the hard way later on.

If you feel like you’re struggling why not set them up with a ‘mentor’. Maybe a family friend, aunt or uncle or someone from school or the local community?  Having a third person point of view to help them steer the minefields of peer-pressure, decision-making and social problems can be invaluable.

2. Communication

Try to engage your teen in conversations about challenges they are currently facing and be open about your experiences as a teenager. Honesty, openness and transparency from you will go a long way to forging better communications and trust with your teen in the long term and in return they may open up about their challenges.

When they do talk, listen, don’t judge and keep cool. Coach them through coming to some solutions themselves by asking questions like, ‘How do you feel about that?’, ‘How do you think you would have reacted in that situation?’ and ‘What do you think the best course of action is?’ It may sound funny if you don’t communicate like this normally, but you will be amazed by the results if you are consistent.  Helping them navigate these pressures when they’re young will set them up well in later life.

3.  Inspiration

If your teen has a strong emotional connection to their vision and purpose, it can drive them when things aren’t going as well as they’d hoped.

Teenagers are often so involved in their immediate circle, school work and the social whirl, they don’t have much time to focus on wider issues.

Helping your teen find something they feel connected to and something that is bigger than themselves can really help them contextualise where they feel they fit into the world, helping them find a sense of self, purpose and build their self-esteem and confidence.

Why not encourage them to get involved in a sport, a local youth group or a local charity that can help build the emotional resilience they’ll need in later life.

Helping others is one of the quickest ways to take the focus off what might not be going so well in their own life, slowly building their resilience on their journey through life.

If you’d like to know more about my thoughts on this and related issues of resilience, you may want to order my book – How To Be Resilient

Originally published as “Building Emotional Resilience In Your Teen”