Children between the ages of 13 and 19 go through a great deal of physical and emotional change. Add hormones to the mix and even the smallest of difficulties can be magnified. Although this stage of child-rearing is challenging for many parents, you still play a significant role in helping your son or daughter navigate the teen years. Knowing what to expect and how to prevent or cope with teen issues helps.
Educate yourself about the changes taking place in your teen's body and brain. Talk with her doctor to understand the impact of hormones. Knowing that mood swings, some testing and a push for independence are normal parts of the teenage years can help you avoid misunderstandings and arguments.
Talk with your teen to get to the source of the problem. Maintain an open line of communication so your teen knows she can speak to you about anything.
Allow your child to have age-appropriate independence while remaining active in her life, activities and friendships so you can monitor without being intrusive. Be involved so you can see the early warning signs of impending challenges or stress.
Address the issue together, and make it clear to your teen that you're on her side. Discuss ways you can both deal with the situation and listen to your teen's input. Provide guidance and create a workable solution to help your child overcome the issue.
Empathize with your teenager to let her know that you understand. Offer stories of difficulties you faced during your teenage years, how you felt at the time and what happened in the end.
Follow up with your teen to see if the issue has gotten better. Discuss the need for outside help, such as a teacher, coach or doctor, if necessary.
Approach stressful situations from a point of love, instead of with impatience and accusations. Putting your teen on the defensive will quickly shut down the lines of communication, leaving you both at a standstill.
Empower your teen to work through issues she can handle on her own or with your help, but advocate on your teen's behalf when the problem is too big for her to deal with.
It can be tempting to assume you know the problem, especially when you're close to your teen. But, instead of making assumptions, take time to talk with your child to fully understand the issue she faces.
Err on the side of caution when it comes to your teen's physical or mental health; check in with her pediatrician if you're worried that a particular issue is impacting either.