Six Things You Can Say to Encourage Your Teen
Parents of teens have an arsenal of things we tell our kids multiple times a day. And often, they are questions, demands, and reprimands.
“Pick up your room!”
“Get off your phone!”
“What stinks in here?”
“What in the world are you doing?”
“You’re going to be late!”
And this is parenting.
But what our teens really need to hear, we may forget to say. It could be we are so focused on teaching them the importance of responsibility and accountability, that we forget about the most significant things they need to know.
Here are six things you can say to encourage your teen, because our kids secretly long to know we love them and we believe in them, despite their teen ways.
- “I hear what you’re saying.” Our kids need to know we are listening to what they are saying. Often, we are too busy telling them what to do and how to do it and we don’t take the time to actually hear what they are trying to tell us. We need to validate their words and give them a voice. We need to stop interrupting them, dismissing them, or worse- be distracted with our own busy lives while they are trying to say something that is surely important to them. When they take the time to talk to you, pay close attention because it’s a gift that your teens are trying to communicate with you. Make sure you acknowledge that you heard what they said. Affirmation is key and the most encouraging thing you can do for your kids.
- “I understand how you’re feeling.” When our teens are expressing their emotions with us, we need to affirm those feelings they are sharing with validating words. It doesn’t matter if you think they are being too dramatic or ridiculous. The feelings they are experiencing are real to them, and if we brush them off or dismiss them, we are sending our kids the message that we don’t care how they feel. If that continues to occur, they will just stop sharing their feelings with us. Make sure you pay close attention to your teen when he or she is offering you a glimpse into their emotional side.
- “I see so many gifts in you.” Adolescence can be full of doubts, confusion, and insecurity for many of our teens. Our teens are constantly scrutinizing their performance, their potential, and their limitations. They compare every detail of themselves to others and this often leads them to feel bad about themselves. They may not think they have many talents, strengths, or skills, so we need to help them identify their gifts. Make sure you point out all those wonderful things about your kid and do it often. They need constant encouragement and affirmation and identifying what makes them special is critical to their self-worth.
- “I believe in you.” It’s important we let our teens know we believe in them. They need assurance that we have confidence in their potential. Remind them of this often. This is a season where our teens are trying new things, exploring new interests, and developing new skills- still fragile and vulnerable to the harsh conditional world that influences them with competition and judgment. Make sure you empower them with your reinforcement, your praise, and your belief in all they can be and all they can do.
- “I love you no matter what.” This might be the hardest thing to say at times because our teens can say and do things that are foolish, unsafe, and even horrible. But being a parent means we love our kids unconditionally. We might not like some of the things they do, but we will always love them. Our teens will make mistakes and they will falter and fail. There will surely be accountability and consequences for their behavior, but our teens need to be reassured that our love will never change, our love is a constant in a world full of inconsistencies. There’s nothing more comforting to a teen than knowing that their parents love them no matter what.
- “I’m always here for you.” You’d do anything for your child and you want them to come to you with any problems, right? The key to building open communication with our teens is telling them you are there for them, no matter what. And here’s the thing: You need to mean it and keep your word. Our teens hesitate to share much of their lives with us, and their growing autonomy is normal and even good. But we still want them to know that we are here for them for anything. We want to give them an open invitation to reach out for our help, our guidance, and our support. And when our kids face a crisis, they will remember what you said.
Even if our kids seem distracted and dismissive when we say these things, keep telling them over and over again. Believe it or not, our kids are secretly wanting our approval, our support, and our love. And when we give it freely, unconditionally, and regularly, it does them a world of good.
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The original post was first published on Your Teen for Parents.