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Teen Talk: Do’s & Don’ts

What you do and don’t say will help make it easier for your teen to cope with the changes they are facing

 

Relationship Changes

 

Don’t ask too many questions about their love life. Period. (Assuming you’ve chatted about contraception.) They’ll volunteer what they want, when they want. This is their private world and their opportunity to learn important lessons for themselves.

Don’t push them or try to speed up the grieving process if they’re struggling with a break-up. Don’t expect them to be happier than they are. Things will get better. Don’t minimise what they’re feeling by reminding them they’re young.

Do encourage your teen to be themselves around the opposite sex, to be authentic. This is especially true if your child is struggling with the fact that they are single.

 

Body Changes

 

Don’t make comments about how they look, about their breast size, voice, hair or skin. If they want to speak to you about something, they will.

Do offer help for specific treatable problems, like acne. Ask if they would like to see a dermatologist, and talk about healthy food choices.

 

Friendship Changes

 

Do encourage your child to voice what they feel and not be silent. Comments like ‘It’s not worth it’ or ‘People are like that’ don’t help. Give them their voice back; even if the conversation doesn’t end the way they want, expressing their truth is very important at this stage.

Do focus on their friends’ positive qualities. Criticism can create rebellion.

 

School Changes

 

Do remember your teen is pretty much an adult. They really can manage.

Don’t get pulled into their whining and complaining. Say, ‘I hear that you don’t love school or your teacher. I also had some hard times at school.’ You don’t need to find a solution or even agree with them.

Do encourage your child to find their passions and to pursue activities they love after school.

 

Family Changes

 

Do give them their space. Don’t expect them to get involved in everything family-related. Yes, it will feel sad if they don’t, but they’ll rejoin family life sooner if you don’t force them.

Don’t fight or argue with your spouse or partner in front of them. It will only infuriate them and make them want even less to do with you. When a teen’s environment is positive and calm, they are more likely to want to engage with you.

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