Being a parent is one of the most rewarding ‘jobs’ of all but it also comes with the most worries and concern for your children. From the day you bring them home to the day they leave the nest you are caring from them, teaching how to do things and equipping them for adult life.
Raising happy teenagers starts in the child’s developmental years, ages 1 to 7. This is when a human being moulds their ideas, beliefs and emotions into who they are as people. If this period of life is full of love, support, healthy boundaries and most importantly parents who allow their children to develop their natural skills or talents, then these parents will experience happy teenagers.
For parents it’s very important to incorporate 3 main areas of development within their young children. Firstly, allow your children to be who they are, secondly teach them how to communicate with you even when they are full of emotion and lastly, show them that even when they have broken the rules or stepped over the boundary line that your love for them remains constant.
Raising a happy teenager is no easy task, I’m sure you’ve had more sleepless nights over your teenager than you did at the early years of their lives.
‘Boost teenage happiness with praise, clear rules, a healthy family lifestyle, and warm family relationships’
Let’s jump right into giving you the valuable steps to incorporate when raising your happy teenager.
Start as early as possible
During the years from 1 – 7 the moment your child opens its eyes in the morning till bedtime they are absorbing absolutely everything they see, touch, feel physically and emotionally, think and everything that you do. They are gathering information to mould their own beliefs and ideas of how they are going to be as an adult.
During these vital years, parents need to recognize the benefits they will receive during the teenage years and their children’s adult lives, from putting respectful ‘rules and boundaries’ in place early. By doing this, parents are encouraging good positive behavior, getting their children into a routine of behaving in a respectful and positive manner. Ironing out all the ‘creases’ before begin. This is not to say parents won’t experiences bad behavior during the teenage years, but it elevates the majority of rebellious behavior and gives them a stronger understanding to work from.
Family house rules
This is one of my favorites. You can have fun with this as well. At the beginning of every year call a family fun meeting. Get some poster size paper and colourful pens. Sit down with your children/teenager and discuss what expectation you have of them in terms of their behavior, helping around the house, school grades, ways to communicate, consequences for bad behavior, house rules and what’s important to you and to them. Remember to use age appropriate responsibilities when setting chores and requests from them.
Each person of the family takes a turn to write down the house rule on the poster, until all rules have been written down. A fun thing to do, is to add a rule that every month a different member of the family can choose a fun family outing or an activity to do together. The rule could be that everyone must respect the family members choice, and everyone must take part.
Once the family rules poster in complete each member of the family must sign it and the rules should be hang in a visual place in the house.
Avoid negative words
When your teenager constantly hears negative words, like NO, Don’t do that, Why are you behaving like this, What’s wrong with you? Your child hears ‘my parents don’t love me, I’m not worth it, I’m not valued enough for them to actually hear me’.
By swapping the negative with the positive it has the most incredible results. Using phrases like, ‘I can see that you are upset, would you like to talk to me about it?’, ‘what do you think, would be a fair consequence for your actions?’ ‘I’d prefer you to do…’, ‘These are the family rules, which you have agreed to, so the choice is yours but, you keep in mind that you will receive the agreed consequence, should you not follow the rule’.
In this way you are empowering your children and showing them that they have their own power of decision making. It takes way that ‘look at what my parents are doing to me’ thought.
Ask for their opinion
Your teenage wants your approval, acceptance and love all the time. When they behave badly it’s a request for attention, when they behave well, they are looking for approval, when you ask them for their opinion, they receive love.
When a child does behaves positively reward them with praise, recognition or encouragement. Asking for a teenager’s advice or opinion makes them feel incredibly valued and admired by their parents. You’ll be surprised how much they actually know!
To praise a teenager correctly you need to figure out what their love language is, do they enjoy quality time? Receiving gifts? Having a hug or a cuddle? Hearing how amazing you think they are? Or when you do something nice for them?
This shows you how best your child receives communication. You can use this information to connect in a more responsive way with your teenager. For example, if your teenager achieves the highest marks in his/her grade. You can reward them with either;
1. Quality time reward: you’ll spend 2 hours with them on the weekend taking part in an activity of their choice.
2. Giving of gift reward: Buy them something that they’ve been wanting for some time. Something helpful or meaningful to them.
3. Physical touch reward: Give them a genuine heartfelt hug and cuddle.
4. Words of affirmation reward: Tell them in a positively descriptive way how proud and amazing you think they are.
5. Acts of service reward: Carry out a nice act of service towards them, something that means a lot to them.
How will you know if it’s worked? They will have the BIGGEST smile on their face and will most likely give you a big thank you. After using this reward technique with your teenager a few times you’ll start see them striving to have more of the same reward.
Raising happy teenagers is easier when you’ve got some extra help and support in your corner.