The parent-teen relationship is vital in shaping an individual’s behaviour. Teenagers experience various challenges during this development phase, and when they are not understood, they may easily fall into depression. Parents, guardians, and designated caretakers must know how to handle them to reduce the possibility of suicidal thoughts or other self-harming actions. As parents, it is vital to assist your teenager to transform though it may be hard to notice some of the negative aspects that disturb them. Below are some strategies you can use as a parent to ensure that your teen feels seen and appreciated, assisting them in reframing any negative thoughts in their transformation process.
Empathise with Your Teen
Demonstrating empathy is a crucial first step in assisting your teen in undergoing the transformation process from childhood into early adulthood. If you notice that your teen is off their mood and showing signs of feeling low, you should avoid jumping in with some statements which you may think to assist them in moving from the low state. Some of the statements you can use include, “You’re perfect! … You are doing an amazing job so far!… “Why do you think you feel like this?” Avoid these statements completely. These may sound like you are trying to avoid the real issue by telling them what they want to hear. Instead, you should explicitly explain to them that what is portrayed online is not the reality of things. However, you can assist them in getting through all that by assuring them that it is a normal experience and you provide a positive environment where they are aware that even you, as the parent, sometimes experience some negative thoughts. You can narrate your experiences as a teen as a way of acknowledging and relating with them.
Reframe Your Teen’s Negative Thoughts
It is usual for teens to use negative self-talk, but you should try and eliminate this by correcting them. A typical example is if your teenager feels insecure about their acne and skin tone. First, it is essential to acknowledge what they feel and express empathy regarding their feeling before proceeding to challenge this line of thought. You can use questions like, “You have no friends at all? So no one ever talks to you or pays you attention?” Suppose your teen’s perfect skin perception is from the internet and other social media platforms; you can ask them what it means to have perfect skin, how this would improve their position in society, and what they think the average person’s skin tone should be like. If it is about weight, ask them if they have not seen celebrities who are plus size. However, you must be careful not to reinforce the issues your teenager is facing by the statements you use. If you are unsure, check to confirm whether they are eating right and implementing proper hygiene practices for their skin or weight issues.
Model Positive Self-talk and Positivity
Suppose you have implemented the first two steps and your teen keeps using negative self-talk; it is vital to consider modelling positive self-talk. This strategy is only successful if you do practice positive self-talk. Suppose you suggest positive self-talk, but always use negative self-talk yourself; convincing your teenager will be difficult. Essentially, children model their parent’s behaviour, and you practising negative self-talk will easily rub off on them. Making constant comparisons to your friends with good jobs and families will likely dampen the positive self-talk reinforcement. You might also constantly complain about your weight or looks, sometimes unconsciously. Your teen will pick these as cues to continue with their negative self-talk. Therefore, having a positive perception about yourself is one way to ensure that this attitude passes to your teen, modelling what self-love should look like to them.
The Power of “Yet.”
Preventing your teen from complete use of negative self-talk may be impossible. However, you can assist them in using the term in all their negative statements. For example, if your teen says, “I can never have exemplary grades like Troy.” You can add the term “yet” and turn the statement into, “I can never have exemplary grades like Troy…Yet.” This strategy changes their perception, giving them the idea that they can perform everything they believe they cannot do in the future. It gives them the will to keep going. Realistically, your teen may be unhappy with their grades, but this will not always be the case. It is essential to let them know that there is better to come.
Remind Them of Their Success
Your teen did not always fail at everything. These constant reminders may seem cliché to them but are vital in reinforcing their confidence. When you notice they are drifting to a negative thought process, pause and remind them of their previous achievements, which define them more than the negatives. These reminders require constant conversations with them to reinforce their thought process into changing to the previous wins whenever they drift off. Even as adults, it is easy to get stuck in negative thoughts. Politely remind your teen of their previous achievements to assist them in dealing with reality.