When your typically placid or easygoing child transitions into the teen years, you may stand shellshocked with the abrupt change. Although communication between parents and teenagers may be challenging, don’t overlook important topics. Daily discussions should be open and honest, keeping the dialogue engaging to include topics relevant to a teenager’s life.
Teenagers have lots of things going on, between school, extracurricular activities, peers, family, homework and chores. While teenagers try to juggle everything, don’t forget that they are also focusing on personal interests such as hobbies, music and sports, says Jodi Dworkin, Ph.D., associate professor with the University of Minnesota Extension. Take an interest in your child’s life, concerns, interests and issues. Ask questions, be available to provide support and encourage your child whenever possible. Strive to connect and engage with your child positively every day to maintain a close relationship.
Under the broad banner of health comes both physical and emotional health, states Dr. Rebecca Weinshilboum, pediatrician with Wake Forest Baptist Health. Keep lines of communication open regarding sexual maturity and activity so you can provide support and answers if your teen needs help. Help your teen seek medical care to stay physically healthy during the teenage years. Maintaining emotional health involves watching for issues such as depression, anxiety, eating disorders, aggression or isolation from peers and family. If you see this type of behavior, get dialogue going to offer support and assistance for your teen. You may need to arrange professional counseling or treatment.
Teen safety is a huge topic, encompassing many different subjects. Communicate openly about your concerns regarding Internet safety, substance abuse, privacy issues, cell phone usage, safe driving practices, piercings and tattoos, firearms and family rules regarding conduct. Teenagers often encounter situations frequently where the teen must make a decision regarding conduct or actions. By talking about various issues and related situations, you can give your teenager the tools necessary to make responsible decisions, states the American Academy of Pediatrics.
The future looms large for teenagers, states Dworkin. Teenagers may worry or wonder about current events, especially as they impact the future. Talk about issues and happenings in the world with your teenager. Help your teenager dissect and understand events. Discuss your teenager’s future plans as well, asking questions, providing support and giving input as desired. Help your child navigate her course to achieve her goals by providing calm and reassuring support.