The teen years are tumultuous for both parents and teens. If you think back to your teen years you'll probably remember feeling confused and out of sorts. Maybe you felt gloomy, depressed, disheartened and dejected. You'll probably remember snapping at your parents too. Both parents and teens get the blues. It hits like a wave and suddenly you're sad for no apparent reason. When the blues wash over a teen--here are some gentle ways you can be helpful. If you practice these "Blue Managing Tips" on your teens--eventually they'll be able to use them with you.
Use Silence. Silence is calming and that's why it's often best to say nothing. Silence is especially effective when a teen is agitated, noticeably upset, defensive, hostile or feeling down. If he's talking quickly it means he needs to let off steam. If she's crying she needs to get the tears out before she can listen. It's never productive to interfere while teens are venting. When you interrupt the flow, you're likely to escalate the tension. So stay calm, stay quiet and in an upset moment keep your opinions to yourself.
Be a Kind Presence. When a teen is upset he needs to get it off his chest before he can solve it. Good intending parents often jump in too quickly to fix the problem or take the pain away. There are things that parents can't fix with a pep talk or advice. When teens are upset what they need first is a little kindness. It's through kindness that you let her know you walk with her in spirit and that you're by her side. Be present to the moment and say, "I'm with you, I'm on your side."
Offer a Hug, a Pat on the Hand, a Tender Look. A soft look, a smile, a positive nod of the head, a light touch on the shoulder or a gentle hug are empowering ways to communicate that you're interested in what he's expressing. By sending positive body messages, you're letting her know that you empathize with the angst she's going through. This tactic encourages him to explain more fully what's troubling him. It lets him get the rant out of his system so that he can move onto the solution.
Show Love. Just one person's love can make a difference. "When I get sad, my parents get mad, so I'd rather talk to my Grandma," a 15-year-old told me. "She never asked questions like my parents did, but she always held my hand." When a teen is upset or blue or feeling out of sorts, that's a signal to you that she needs to feel cared for and safe. Tell him daily that you love him, reassure her that she will figure it out. Tell him he can count on you.
Serve Comfort Food. Perhaps you had a favorite aunt or grandparent who when you visited with them, you felt relaxed and understood. Instead of serving advice or criticism, they served you something good to eat and you felt comforted. Sharing a quiet simple meal, cooking your son's favorite dinner, or offering to bake a batch of cookies together can turn a stressful day into one of consolation. When they are grown and have children of their own, the comfort food you served will probably be a favorite memory, and when they come to visit they will ask you to make it.
Slip a Note in a Pocket. It's comforting to feel connected, to know that a parent is thinking of you. A surprise note letting your teen know that you are thinking of them can turn a lonely day into a meaningful connection. Teens and parents are often locked in a battle of wills that can get in the way of the love they feel for each other. Sending a love message will send the reassurance that they need.