4 Commonly Unspoken Things Teens Need from Their Parents

4 Commonly Unspoken Things Teens Need from Their ParentsParenting during the teenage years can easily place strain on your relationship with your teen, your spouse, and yourself. At times it can be very frustrating trying to connect closely with your busy teen, and determine with certainty what they need from you in order to grow and thrive. Teenagers go through some intense hormonal and emotional changes during adolescent development, and it may become more difficult for them to communicate, or even identify what they need from their parents.

According to the faith-based parenting blog, For Every Mom, here are four of the most important things that your teen needs from you as a parent, whether or not they express these needs effectively, or at all.
  1. A steadfast example of how to truly live out important values and morals

Despite their actions of budding independence, your teen needs you to model successful adulthood for them. As a parent, it is incredibly important that you use your own life and experiences to openly showcase all the values, morals, and guiding principles you are striving to teach your teen.  This does not mean that you must live in perfection, but your teen needs to see real-life examples of the things you say and teach them.

  1. An abundance of encouragement

Teenagers are going to assert their independence as they flourish, but they will also inevitably fail, falter, or make the wrong decisions at times. Your role as a parent is to help guide your teen, and prepare them for everything adulthood has in store, both good and bad. For this reason, it is important to focus on providing your teen an abundance of encouragement, whether they’ve done something well, are learning something new, or have failed at something. Teens also need corrections to their behavior during times that they’ve broken rules or placed themselves in negative, unhealthy, or dangerous situations. However, it is valuable for teens to feel supported, loved, and encouraged across all facets of your parenting.

  1. A willingness to talk openly about difficult or confusing subjects without judgement

As a parent, you are equipped with a natural instinct to protect your teen against harm, hurt, or pain. However, while you can endeavor to shield and protect your teen, they may already have at least second hand exposure to situations in their life they should avoid to stay safe and healthy. This is why it is important to talk to your teens about topics such as alcohol, drugs, and sex. While it may be uncomfortable for both you and your teen, it will ultimately help them make better choices in their life if they understand the risks and consequences with clarity and know your thoughts and expectations of them as well.

Teens are under a tremendous amount of pressure, and many struggle with depression as a result. In fact, according to the National Institute of Mental Health, a 2014 study revealed that 11.4 percent of teens have experienced at least one major depressive episode. Knowing they can talk with you about harder subjects can safeguard your teen against mental health issues and keep them emotionally strong as well.

  1. Clearly outlined boundaries that are enforced with consistency

Even though they may object through outbursts or rebellion, teens need a strong sense of their boundaries and what is expected of them. It is important for you to create guiding principles and rules that will help positively shape your teen’s life, and always enforce them with consistency.  According to Focus on the Family, teens not only need, but want healthy boundaries to help guide them. Boundaries also help show teens that the adults they respect care deeply for their health and well-being, which is the type of relationship teens need and desire with their parents.

If you are struggling to connect with your teenager, and fear their mental, emotional, or physical health may be at risk, then speaking with a professional teen counselor can be very beneficial to your teenager and your family.

 

7 Strategies to Help Single Dads Raising Teenage Daughters

7 Strategies to Help Single Dads Raising Teenage Daughters

A healthy, loving relationship with their children is a very joyous experience for fathers.

There is something unique and special about the bond between a dad and his daughter.

As your little girl begins to mature toward womanhood, she will inevitably experience many changes and incredible growth through her teenage years.

If you are a single father, these years can be especially difficult to understand and navigate successfully. However, investing the extra time and effort to foster a close and fulfilling relationship with your daughter during this formative time is very important.

Parenting during the teen years is a large undertaking for any two parents to accomplish. As a single dad, you may feel especially overwhelmed and challenged in your efforts to lovingly parent your daughter during this time.

7 strategies To Stay Close and Connected with Your Daughter Through the Teenage Years

If you follow these 7 tips, you’ll be able to better understand and communicate with your daughter.

  1. Learn About Female Adolescent Development

During the teenage years, fathers often find it more difficult to relate to their daughters. This is because young women experience emotional and hormonal changes that men don’t experience during their own puberty.

Teen Life suggests that single fathers spend the time and effort to educate themselves about the physical, hormonal, and emotional changes that teenage girls go through.

Even if you don’t have personal experience to draw from, you can understand what to expect as your daughter matures.

By understanding what is happening in her development, you can be more patient, understanding, and supportive of her.

  1. Communicate Effectively and Often With Your Daughter

Men often desire to help find solutions or fix problems effectively and immediately as they come about. This desire is typically amplified for fathers who want to help their daughters.

Sometimes, though, a teenage girl just needs to speak and be heard, and not saved or fixed.

According to About Parenthood, single fathers should endeavor to maintain open communication with their daughters, with a strong emphasis on listening without trying to find a problem or solution. By listening to your daughter, and communicating effectively and often with her, you will be able to remain close to her as she grows and help guide her as well.

  1. Love Unconditionally, but Give Your Daughter Room to Grow

Teenagers are known for their growing independence, curiosity, and excitement to grow up into adults.

While this exuberance can be difficult for parents to manage sometimes. It is important that you love your teen daughter unconditionally no matter what phase of teenage development she is undergoing.

An important aspect of the teenage years is learning identity, problem-solving, and how to engage in healthy social relationships.

As a single father, you will play a huge role in shaping how your daughter develops. But you should avoid the urge to hover so she has room to safely discover and grow.

  1. Avoid Speaking Negatively about Your Daughter’s Mother

No matter the reason your daughter’s mother is not present, always be sure that you do not speak of her with negativity.

Your daughter will always have a strong love for her mother, so make sure you support her feelings even if you don’t share them.

  1. Teach Your Daughter Strong Morals and Values…and Enforce Them Consistently

Your daughter will be looking up to you and watching you for cues on how to grow into a successful adult.

Make sure that you are living and demonstrating the morals and values you teach your daughter. Demonstrate by example how to live fully and happily.

As the sole parent to your teen daughter, you are also the one responsible for making her accountable to herself and to the rules of your home.

While it may be tempting to let things slide here and there to avoid an outburst or an argument, always enforce your established rules and boundaries with consistency.

  1. Have Fun and Enjoy Your Time Together

According to the Child Development Institute, one of the best things you can do as a single father working to raise happy, strong daughters is to have fun together as often as possible. Another important thing to remember is to enjoy every phase of her development.

Your daughter will soon grow into a woman, and her memories of time together with her dad will help shape her throughout her lifetime.

  1. Build a Strong, Supportive Village around Yourself

Even though you are the strong, sole leader of your home, do not try to parent your teen daughter without a strong support system.

As you recruit your village, be sure to include positive female role models who can act as mentors to your daughter.

Mentors can show her how grown women behave, live, and thrive. These women can be family members or close, trusted family friends.

If you do not have positive female examples in your life, then there are great community programs such as Big Brothers and Big Sisters of America where your daughter can spend time with quality female role models.

Raising a teenage daughter as a single dad can be challenging at times.

If you feel overwhelmed or notice that your daughter is demonstrating signs of seclusion, unhappiness, or depression, then speak with a licensed teen counselor.

A trained teen counselor can help you get your daughter, your parenting, and your relationship on a positive, healthy track.

The Benefits of Being a Stay-at-Home Parent Through the Teenage Years

It is a common practice around the world for one or both parents to stay home and care for their children in the early months and years of life. Both mothers and fathers are typically offered some time away from their work to welcome their child and adjust to a new family dynamic.

While it is not financially feasible for many families to include a stay-at-home parent outside of maternity or paternity leaves, the number of mothers who decide to stay home has been increasing. In fact, according to the Pew Research Center, 29 percent of mothers in America in 2012 did not currently work outside the home, and stayed home to care for their families. Eventually, as children grow and begin attending school during the day, many mothers and fathers who stayed home previously return to work to help support their families.

Parents play a large and important role in their children’s lives that begins at birth and lasts a lifetime. Parental care, love, and nurturing are important to healthy development in all life phases, including infants, children, teens, and adults. To different degrees and levels, every country in the world recognizes the importance of parents being home to nurture and guide young children.

However, recent research done by the Graduate School of Stanford Business suggests that the benefits of having a parent at home exist for teenagers as well.

The Benefits of Being a Stay-at-Home Parent Through the Teenage Years

Here are some of the great benefits that teenagers with at least one stay-at-home parent experience:

 

Increased Parental Attention, Guidance, and Involvement

A teen who has a parent at home will likely experience more dedicated attention, more often. This is simply due to proximity and opportunity. A stay-at-home parent is more likely to be around in the moments that their teen wants to talk or decides to open up and share. It can be difficult to relate to teens and bond with them on their terms and timelines as they mature. A parent who stays home has the opportunity to be around when their teen goes to school, comes home from school, and has friends over to socialize or study.

Constant Parental Presence Balanced with Independence

Knowing that they have a parent around at home constantly can help teens feel a sense of support and stability. As a parent, it also provides the opportunity to witness how your teen is maturing, who they are spending time with, and be available and present whenever needed. It is important that parental presence be balanced with independence for your teen though. They should know that you are always there for them, but also have the freedom to exercise their independence and make their own decisions and choices based on the family morals and values they’ve been taught.

Better Academic Performance

According to research published by Stanford, a parenting study in Norway revealed that adolescents with a stay-at-home parent were more likely to achieve better grades and academic success. The study was done in conjunction with Norway’s Cash for Care subsidy program incentivizing and paying parents to stay home with their children under the age of three. The research was centered on the development of older siblings, who also benefited from having a parent at home to care for them. It was revealed that the teens whose parents stayed home to take care of them and their younger siblings did significantly better in school as a result.

While there is a growing body of research demonstrating that children and teens benefit from a parent who stays home, due to financial obligations or personal preference, not all parents have the option to stay home as their children grow up. Parents who work outside the home are definitely capable of being involved, loving parents by dedicating time and balancing family and career. If you are struggling to bond with your teen or feel they are becoming distant, speaking with a teen counselor can be beneficial to finding that balance in your life and relationship with your teen.

5 Tips for Raising Boys as a Single Mom with Teenage Sons

As a single mother to a teenager, you have to take on many varying roles and responsibilities to help your teen grow and mature into a successful, happy adult.

This means you are the emotional caretaker and strict disciplinarian. You support your household financially and domestically. You teach strong values and create fun and love in your home.

If you are a single mother raising a son, then the teenage years can be especially difficult to navigate.

You have one of the strongest connections two humans can experience as a mother and her son. But as your son begins to experience hormonal changes, it will be difficult for you to relate and understand feelings and changes you have not personally experienced.

This certainly does not make you a subpar parent in any way, and despite your differences, there are some great things you can do to support your son and raise him into a wonderful man on your own.

5 Tips for Raising Boys as a Single Mom with Teenage Sons

Here are 5 Tips for Raising Teen Boys, as a Single Supermom

  1. Respect, acknowledge, and explain your differences as best you can.

As your teenage son begins going through hormonal changes, you will inevitably begin to notices differences in him and in how he relates to the world around him. Talk openly about the changes he’s going through, and explain the differences in how men and women mature in body, emotions, and mind.

  1. Don’t ask or expect your teenage son to fulfill the role of a “man” in your home.

Today Parents recommends that single mothers never ask a teenage son to assume the “man of the house” role within their household.

This does not mean that your teen son should not be given responsibilities around the home or help you with things.

The important distinction is that teen boys should still be sons, and should not be asked to think like an adult or make decisions beyond their scope of maturation and understanding.

You and your son should love and support one another, but make sure that you’re giving him room to grow and not asking him to take on roles he isn’t yet equipped to handle.

  1. Recognize and reinforce the positive qualities you notice in men in your life.

As a single mom, it is important that you show your son examples of good men to use as a reference as he shapes into a young man.

If you have a strong support system with male relatives and trusted friends, make sure that your son gets to spend quality time with positive male role models as well.

You can also reinforce good male qualities by pointing out characteristics, mannerisms, and behaviors that men you both see together out in public are exhibiting.

If you do not have strong male role models in your support circle, then there are great groups such as Big Brothers and Big Sisters that you and your son can get involved with to meet and spend time with quality male leaders and role models in your community.

  1. Find some positive boy’s groups or activities for your teenage son to become involved in.

Interacting with other teen boys, and developing strong male bonds and friendships is very important for teens.

Find some positive groups for boys in your community, such as sports, church, or Boy Scouts, and enroll your son in the activities that interest him most.

This will help him witness good male leadership, and develop positive male friendships in his age range as well.

  1. Talk to your teenage son about sex, love, and the differences between the two.

Byron Ricks, the author of Searching for Dad, suggests that single mothers dedicate time to talking with teenage sons about love, sex, and the differences between the two.

It is important for your teen to have a strong understanding of virtues and feelings like love, respect, and strength.

Without a male role model in the home, many teen boys look for examples in the world around them. They may try to model themselves after their favorite teacher, athletes or movie star.

Make sure that your teen has a strong moral baseline for sex and love, and that you approve of any male role models he’s looking up to and forming himself upon.

If you are a single mom to a teenage boy, and notice that your son is struggling at school, or is expressing strong emotions of anger or self-loathing, then speaking with an experienced teen counselor can help your son deal with tough emotions, and give you more tools as a parent to guide and nurture him as well.

5 Simple Ways We Can Challenge the Stigmas Associated to Teen Mental Illness

May is Mental Health Month, which is a time of support dedicated to anyone whose life is impacted by mental illness. May is also designated as a time for increasing awareness about teen mental health, and encouraging anyone who has been struggling with mental health issues to seek help in a safe, supported environment.

An important component of supporting teens seeking help for mental health illnesses or disorders is to help challenge and eliminate the stigmas surrounding mental health. Removing misinformed preconceptions or stigmas regarding mental illness will help foster the safe, inclusive environment that those with mental health issues need to seek help confidently.

5 Simple Ways We Can Challenge the Stigmas Associated to Teen Mental Illness

What is a Mental Illness Stigma?

According to the Mental Health Commission of Australia, a mental illness stigma is created when a person is labeled solely by their mental health condition, and faces feelings of shame and disgrace through discrimination brought about due to their condition.

Stigmas associated to mental illness, particularly in teens, can make it even more difficult for adolescents to come forward because they feel ostracized, guilty, or ashamed. Stigmas perpetuate prejudice and can also bring about or intensify other negative feelings for teens and their families such as:

  • Blame
  • Hopelessness
  • Isolation
  • Criticism
  • Shame
  • Unwillingness to seek help
  • Spread of misinformation

5 Ways to Challenge and Eliminate Mental Illness Stigmas

5 Simple Ways We Can Challenge the Stigmas Associated to Teen Mental Illness

Eliminating the stigmas associated with mental illness in teens is entirely possible through education, support, and open conversations on this difficult topic.

Here are 5 things that you can do this month, and beyond, to help support those you know who suffer from mental illness and work toward eliminating the negative and prejudicial stigmas that exist about mental health and wellness.

  1. Learn, understand, and share correct and positive information about mental illness.

To best reduce the stigmas surrounding teen mental illness, it is important that you learn all the facts about mental disorders, and only share correct and positive information with your family, friends, and others.

  1. Embrace and acknowledge those who have experienced mental health issues.

If you, your teen, or another loved one in your life has personal experience with mental health issues, then it is vital that you encourage open, honest conversations about their mental health and truly listen. It is also important to remember that a teen with a mental illness is not solely defined by their condition, so acknowledging their mental health as just part of who they are can be very beneficial to making them feel accepted and respected.

  1. Replace labels and judgement with inclusion and respect, for those suffering from mental illness.

Placing judgement or labels on teens with mental health problems can cause them to feel isolated, alienated, and alone. However, if you approach mental health with support, inclusion, and respect, then those already struggling will feel more confident in speaking up for themselves and seeking out support and help.

  1. Speak up when you hear others spreading misinformation about mental illness.

Stigmas exist so predominantly because there is a lot of misinformation and incorrect perceptions about mental illness in circulation among people. If you hear others speaking negatively about mental health or spreading incorrect information about those who live with mental illness, it is important that you speak up and defend yourself or your loved ones with accurate facts. Educating others about the truths of mental illness can help diminish the negative impact stigmas have on society.

  1. Talk openly and honestly about the reality of experiencing and living with mental illnesses.

Due largely to stigmas associated to mental illness, many teens will feel ashamed to speak about their mental health and seek out help if they need it. You can encourage your teen to speak openly and honestly, and ensure them that their feelings will not be met with any judgement or blame. It is also important for teens who live with mental illness to share real life experiences about their struggles and how they live in spite of their mental illness.

 

There is a growing social media community dedicated to highlighting the truths about mental illness and supporting those who need or are getting help. You can share your experiences, or encourage your teen to do the same by using the hashtag #mentalillnessfeelslike.

 

 

5 Ways to Reinforce Strong Family Values While Co-Parenting Your Teenager

A divorce is not something that couples ever plan will happen to them as they begin their life together and start a family. However, in America, the average divorce rate ranges from 40-50 percent, according to the American Psychological Association. This means that many families with teenagers are divided by divorce, and parents must learn how to successfully raise and parent their teens from separate households after their marriage dissolves.

5 Ways to Reinforce Strong Family Values While Co-Parenting Your Teenager

Teenagers who have a happy home life are much less likely to experience mental, emotional, or social issues. It is very important that a teen feels loved and supported at home and witnesses their parents experiencing a successful relationship, regardless of whether their parents are married or not. For this reason, it is imperative your co-parenting be done in a way that supports your teen and reinforces a strong sense of family, love, and values. In fact, according to research published by the U.S. National Library of Medicine, successful co-parenting is beneficial to the emotional development and health of teens. Additionally, research has shown that it is not only an absence of conflict that makes co-parenting succeed, but also an increase in communication and collaboration from both parents.

Here are five ways you can successfully co-parent your teen, while upholding family support and values:

  1. Create goals, stick to them. Work together to support your teenager with respect, devotion, and intention.

Focus on the Family suggests that co-parents set aside their conflicts and differences, and work together to create goals centered on their teen. In many cases, working together with your ex might seem extremely disagreeable. However, remember that you are putting forth a united effort as parents, regardless of your personal relationship with one another. If you find you are struggling to agree, try setting up a monthly meeting that you conduct as adults in a professional manner. Treating the time together as work can help you reduce emotions, and get more accomplished together for the benefit of your teen.

  1. When you refer to your ex and co-parent, always speak of them positively and remind your teen of their great traits and accomplishments.

According to information published in the Huffington Post, one of the markers of success in a co-parenting relationship is to always ensure that you speak positively about your ex when you speak to your teen. You should think about the qualities that make them special, and always celebrate successes and accomplishments. A teen who witnesses such support and positivity will have a stronger basis for managing their own conflicts and relationships in the future as well.

  1. Make sure your teen has everything they need in both homes, and never ask them to report or tattle on your ex and co-parent.

A divided household can be very difficult for a teen, particularly if they don’t have the things they need in one home or the other. This can cause your teen to feel uncomfortable and cause them to favor one home over the other. As your teen goes back and forth between homes, it is also very important that you don’t give them any unnecessary emotional baggage or responsibility to carry with them, such as asking them probing questions about their other parent’s personal life, or asking them to tattle.

  1. Keep your scheduled commitments, but show one another flexibility and collaboration if changes need to be made.

Do your very best to keep to all your scheduled commitments. This makes you a great co-parent, and also helps your teen develop a reliable schedule and have parents they know that they can count on.

  1. Take care of yourself and dedicate your growth toward being an amazing co-parent.

The end of a marriage can be very emotionally taxing for you, and in order to be the best co-parent you can for your teen, you need to make sure you take care of yourself. Be patient and loving toward yourself as you work through the hurt and heal.

If your teen is struggling emotionally due to a recent divorce, or you and your ex are having difficulty determining the best way to co-parent and support your teen, then speaking to a trained counselor who specializes in such situations can help you make sure that your teen is getting everything they need to thrive in a changing environment.

 

 

 

 

10 Ways to Keep a Close, Connected Relationship with Your Teenager

As your teenager matures, it is quite natural for a bit of distance to grow between you. However, even if your teen does not verbalize it often, he/she does still need you and will benefit greatly from a close, connected relationship with you as his/her parent.

10 Ways to Keep a Close, Connected Relationship with Your Teenager

Here are 10 ways you can maintain a close connection with your teen, and continue growing your relationship through communication, love, and fun:

 

  1. Give your teen love freely and unconditionally, always.

No matter how they behave, always give your teen love freely and unconditionally. Teens look to their parents as role models of successful adults, and will learn how to love themselves and others through your example. Even though you may not know it based on teenage behavior sometimes, your teen is looking up to you as a hero in their life. According to a 2015 poll conducted on StageofLife.com, when teens were asked who best resembled an “unsung hero” in their life, the number one answer was “Parent.”

  1. Listen and offer to help troubleshoot problems without judgement.

One of the best ways to encourage and grow a close connection with your teen is to always listen to them when they talk to you and open up. Listen carefully and actively, but let them finish speaking before you offer suggestions, advice, or help with problems they are expressing.

  1. Let your teen have freedom and room to grow.

There is a delicate balance between being involved in your teen’s life, and becoming overbearing or smothering. Unless your teen is giving you signals otherwise, extend them trust, arm them with good virtues and firm guidelines, and then give them room to grow and experience life, even if it means they might make mistakes.

  1. Send your teen text messages

According to a study done by the Pew Research Center, 58 percent of teens indicated that text messaging was the main medium they used to communicate daily with their close friends. While this does not mean you should not call your teen, it will help you connect with them in a whole new way if you embrace the way they like to communicate.

  1. Become friends or follow your teen on social media

Teens also do much of their communicating through social media, so by becoming friends or following them on online channels, you can get more insight into the person your teen is becoming and who is influencing them. Being aware of your teen’s online communications will also help you make sure they are interacting in safe, healthy ways.

  1. Talk openly with your teen about dating and sex.

Talking about dating and sex with your teen should not be awkward, uncomfortable, or shameful. Instead, communicate openly about the values of respect, love, and intimacy. You should also be very open about the prevalence of STDs and teen pregnancy, so you can help your teen make good choices and stay healthy and safe. Encourage your teen to talk about the pressures they might be feeling or experiencing, so you can help them navigate through those times as well.

  1. Support your teen’s hobbies and passions by showing up to special events or games.

Teens with involved parents do better at school and get higher grades, no matter their socioeconomic status, according to US News and World Report. Showing your teen that you care about what they love to do is much more impactful than telling them. Make sure that you adjust your schedule whenever possible, and attend their special events or games to show that you support them in their passions and hobbies.

  1. Give your teen a hug every single day.

Hugs provide comfort, decrease stress, and foster a sense of well-being. Give your teen a hug every day, and let them know you love them and care about them.

  1. Support healthy friendships, and include friends in your family life.

Friends are very important to teenagers, and by supporting your teen’s healthy and fun friendships you can become closer with your teen. Host a dinner or game night for your teen and his/her friends or let your teen bring their best friend on a family outing or activity. This helps you be involved and support friendship and fun in your teen’s life.

  1. Create rituals that foster time together and make it special and fun.

Connecting with your teen can be a lot of fun for you both through shared time, rituals, and activities together. Try some of these things with your teen, and make rituals out of your favorites:

  • Read the same book, and discuss it when you both finish reading.
  • Find a charity you both care about, and volunteer together.
  • Learn something new together, and let your teen pick the activity.
  • Ask your teen if you can join them in their favorite workout.
  • Watch a weekly TV show together.
  • Go on a hike, bike ride, or enjoy the outdoors together.

In order to remain connected with your teen as he or she grows and becomes increasingly independent, it is important for you to understand and implement these ways, and others you can think of, to keep a strong relationship intact with your teen.

4 Ways to Help Your Teen Live a Less Lonely Life

As teenagers navigate their way to adulthood, they are often surrounded by friends, immersed in education and activities, and finding out more and more about how they relate to the world around them. Even if your teen seems busy, it is very possible that they could be experiencing feelings of loneliness as they develop and grow.

4 Ways to Help Your Teen Live a Less Lonely Life

According to Focus on the Family, a decade ago, only 10 percent of people indicated that they experienced loneliness. Today, however, that figure has doubled. Teens who are lonely are especially susceptible to developing mental health issues such as depression.

Even teens who are healthy and happy can be prone to bouts of loneliness, so teaching your teen good habits can help them cope with feelings of loneliness they might experience as they mature. As a parent, it is important to know how you can help your teen live a life that is less lonely.

  1. Limit screen time.

Technology advancements over the past 10 years have vastly changed how people communicate with one another. Much of the interaction that used to occur personally or face-to-face has now moved to digital mediums such as social media, email, instant messaging, and texting. While these methods help to speed up communication, they also make it much more cold, distant, and impersonal. In fact, according to research published by the US National Library of Medicine, excessive screen time was found to be a precursor to depression, isolation, and obesity in adolescents.

As a parent of a teen, it is important that you teach your teen the value of both digital and face-to-face interactions, and make sure they are connecting to others in personal, meaningful ways. Personal human connection is important to feeling present and valued, so it helps combat the isolation and loneliness that digital communication can often create.

  1. Plan fun, engaging family activities.

A great way to help your teen feel inclusion and acceptance is to spend quality time together at home as a family. Planning activities that foster personal interaction and fun, can help alleviate boredom and increase your bond as a family. Some great ideas for family activities are board games, cooking dinner together, or going on an evening stroll around the neighborhood.

  1. Encourage healthy interaction with friends.

As a parent of a teenager, you can help shape your teen’s social skills as they emerge and develop, and one of the most important things you can do to help combat loneliness is to encourage healthy friendships. Friends play a very large role in happiness of teens, and according to the Global Post, friendships helps teens in the following ways:

  • Friendships help teens feel accepted and confident
  • Friendships provide teens with trustworthy confidants
  • Friendships support healthy fun, excitement, and interaction
  • Through friendships, teens can have a positive influence on one another
  1. Teach the difference between spending time alone, and being lonely.

Helping your teen become comfortable with moments of silence, reflection, and solitude can help them understand the difference between spending time alone, and being lonely. Encouraging quiet time for reading, drawing, or writing will help your teen find pleasure in spending time alone, and teach them that these activities can be fun, relaxing, and rewarding. Understanding this important distinction will ultimately help your teen know how to better handle any feelings of loneliness that they encounter.

If you are concerned that your teen is experiencing loneliness often, and it is impacting their behavior, health, and happiness, then seeking out the guidance of a professional counselor who specializes in teen loneliness and depression can help equip you and your teen with more tools to lead a happy, full life.

 

 

 

Is Your Teen Being Bullied? 15 Signs to Look For, and What to Do as a Parent

As your teen develops socially, they’ll most likely find new things to interest them and form new friendships in the process. The duration of teen friendships can seem somewhat erratic, much like teenage emotions and behaviors themselves. Interaction among teens will almost always include some form of jesting, teasing, or playfulness, as teens form their personalities, humor, and themselves. While much of this behavior is all part of the normal growth path to maturity and adulthood, far too often teens are taking the teasing to the bullying level, which is focused on intentionally being unkind and hurtful to others.

 

Teens won’t often confide in others if they’re feeling scared or threatened, so as a parent, it is important to know common signals that indicate bullying, so you can be aware and help your teen if he or she is the victim of bullying.

Is Your Teen Being Bullied? 15 Signs to Look For, and What to Do as a Parent

15 Common Signs Your Teen Is Being Bullied

According to Character.org, these are some of the most common signs that indicate your teen is being bullied at school. Every teen can have a bad day, a disagreement with a friend, or a poor attitude, so it is important to look for patterns of repeated bullying signs or behavior.

 
1. Unexplained cuts, scrapes, or bruising
2. Loss of toys, school supplies, lunch money, or electronics that your teen insists they lost
3. Loss of interest in school or extracurricular activities
4. Refuses to ride the school bus
5. Sudden fear of being alone, or excessive clinginess with you
6. Sudden change in mood or personality, or in eating and sleeping habits
7. Frequent complaints of illness, headache, stomachaches, and trips to the nurse at school
8. Difficultly sleeping such as crying or bedwetting
9. Sudden bullying behavior toward younger siblings
10. Refusing to use the bathroom anywhere but at home
11. Sudden change in friends, or no desire to hang out with their usual group of friends
12. Significant drop in grades
13. Sullen behavior and talk of feeling worthless or not good enough
14. Speaking about suicide
15. Running away from home

 

What to Do if You Suspect Your Teen is Being Bullied

If your teen is exhibiting any of these signs regularly, then it is important for you as a parent to recognize the signals, and try to help your teen deal with the bullying situation. Your teen may not come forward themselves to let you know what is going on, as bullied teens often feel too scared or ashamed to tell their parents or other trusted adults.

 
Empowering Parents recommends taking these steps to help your teen handle a bullying situation:

 
Speak openly together, and as a family
Let your teen know that you are there for them, and don’t place any blame or judgement on them or their bully. Offer your support, and allow your teen the opportunity to speak freely and openly.

 
Help your teen build a strategy to deal with their bully, including things such as:
• Teaching your teen not to react out of fear
• Having a “Walk Away” Slogan ready to use and exit a bullying situation
• Ignoring the Bully
• Using the Buddy System with a friend at school
• Talking to trusted adults at home or at school

 

When to Get Involved or Get Help

If the bullying situation your teen is enduring continues to escalate despite using these various ideas and tactics, then it may be a good time for you to get involved as a parent. Before you step in however, be sure that you speak openly with your teen, letting them know you are there to support, help, and protect them. Be sure that they know and understand that they deserve to be safe and happy at school, and that you want to help them. Often times knowing someone more powerful than their bully is on their side will help them build confidence and gain peace.

 

If you need support and help with a bullying situation as a parent, then it is always a good idea to contact a teen counselor or specialist to help you and your teen find your way safely out of a bullying situation at school.

10 Ways to Celebrate National Random Acts of Kindness Week with Your Teen

Genuine kindness and empathy for others are important virtues to instill within your teen as they navigate the world, and learn about who they want to be as they grow toward adulthood. However, the adolescent years can be tumultuous for many teenagers and their families due to all the negativity, unkindness, and emotional challenges teens face today. The great news is that, in an effort to combat bullying, and support inclusion and kindness, there is a week devoted solely to promoting random acts of kindness- National Random Acts of Kindness Week.

10 Ways to Celebrate National Random Acts of Kindness Week with Your Teen
National Random Acts of Kindness Week is February 14th-20th. Here are some ways that you can celebrate, and encourage your teen to practice kindness toward others this week, and all year round.

 

History of Random Acts of Kindness Week

National Random Acts of Kindness Day actually originated in New Zealand, where they celebrate this day of doing kind things for others on September 1st each year. This movement has been gaining popularity each year, and encouraged the formation of the Random Acts of Kindness Foundation. This foundation advocates for a world filled with kindness toward all, paying it forward, and using selfless acts as a measure of personal success. They endeavor to support kindness, inclusion, and happiness in a world that can be far too dark and negative for teens and adults alike.

 

10 Ideas for Encouraging Your Teen to Practice Random Acts of Kindness

1. Treat your teen to lunch from a drive-thru restaurant, and pay for the person behind you as well.
2. Spend some time with your teen, and help them make a list of 5 people they are thankful for, and then have your teen send them each a hand-written thank you card letting them know how much they care about them and treasure them. Make your own list, and do the same.
3. Clean out your closets, and donate unneeded clothes to charity.
4. Ask your teen to think about some people at school who seem lonely, and encourage them to show those teen kindness with a genuine compliment and a smile.
5. Put together a care package for someone on a mission or in the military. Have your teen help think of items, pack the box, and mail it with you.
6. Have your teen pick a day this week, where they commit to only speaking kindly to everyone they see throughout the day. Then have them explain how they felt after spending a single day being consciously kind.
7. Pick an evening, and take your teen to a popular playground with a jar of coins and some tape. Tape the coins in random places around the playground, so children can gleefully discover them.
8. Give your teen a pad of Post-It notes, and have them write down random compliments on at least ten notes. Then have them stick the Post-Its in random places throughout their day, such as the bathroom mirror, on a random desk at school, etc. so that people find them and smile.
9. Bake some goodies with your teen, and deliver them together to someone who you know is struggling in some aspect of their life.
10. Celebrate and compliment your teen whenever they are kind, giving, or compassionate.

 

Virtues last a lifetime, and just one act of kindness has the power to change someone’s life. Have some fun spreading kindness with your teen this week, and enjoy showing them the joy that comes with giving to others through kind acts.