CKG Foundation is currently launching our Life Transitions Mental Wellness toolkit, a versatile e-learning resource for students and educators.
Check out these 10 ways parents can help teens through life transitions.
10 Ways to Support Your Teen During a Transition
The challenges teens face during a transition can have a ripple effect, impacting their sense of self, their relationships (with peers and with you) and their performance in school.
As the parent of an adolescent, it’s important to recognize the transitions in your child’s life, and to lend support as they navigate through these changes.
Following are 10 specific things you can do to ease the challenges of a transition:
- Allow for feelings. Teens are going to have a lot of feelings—and they’re going to have a lot of big feelings. It’s important to let them have these feelings.
- Listen. One of the most helpful things you can do for your adolescent is to listen to their stories, hear their concerns and empathize with their feelings — without judgment.
- Preserve routines. As much as possible, try to keep the same morning, after-school, evening and bedtime routines in place. Routines lend familiarity and predictability, which can be threatened during times of transition.
- Ensure self-care — for both you and your teen. Nutritious meals, quality sleep, exercise and stress management allow you to stay strong, especially during trying times. A lot of teens begin to buck breakfast and push the limits on bedtime; while respecting the changes in their needs and wants, maintain a focus on healthy habits.
- Maintain boundaries. It’s tempting to loosen the discipline when your child is going through a hard time, but rules and boundaries build trust. Kids know what they can count on, and what they can push against. Be consistent in your parenting, allowing natural consequences and imposing logical consequences when their behavior crosses the line.
- Offer choices. Teens often feel a lack of control, and even more so during times of transition. Where possible, allow them to voice their opinions, form their own likes and dislikes and make choices.
- Stay realistically positive. Remind your teen of past accomplishments. You might remind them about the time that they were really anxious about their performance in a school play that went really well, or about a new friend they made on their first day of camp. By doing so, you’re giving your child tangible examples to counter their anxiety in facing this change.
- Separate your anxiety from theirs. Recognize that you may have unresolved “stuff” from your adolescence that gets triggered by your teen’s experiences. Stay in your own lane, using caution not to blur your journey with theirs. Take an honest look at your feelings, and try to pinpoint the cause of your anxiety — without making it theirs.
- Don’t project your worries. As mama lion (or papa bear), you want your child to avoid discomfort—and to succeed. But your concerns about any given transition may not be theirs. Even if you’re worried about your teen making new (and the right) friends, they might not be the least bit concerned—until you plant seeds of doubt by asking anxiety-provoking questions (“Are you nervous about making new friends?”).
- Ask for help. If you feel like things are getting out of control, or you see that your teen is so anxious that they’re not sleeping or if you’re worried about drug and alcohol use, reach out to a professional, who can help guide your teen—and you—through a challenging transition.
It can be hard to know what you don’t know—until you’re living through a new parenting experience. Adolescent transitions can be unnerving, but they also facilitate growth—not only for your teen, but also for your relationship with them.
To learn more about CKG Mental Wellness Education Toolkits, contact: firstname.lastname@example.org
More CKG Foundation Toolkits (Under Development):