How to Raise a Happy, Healthy Teenager
So, you thought the terrible twos were bad huh? Welcome to the teenage years.
I have two gorgeous children, my boy is now 19 and my girl 16 (had to update that!)
So far, the teenager thing is a little challenging but not too bad! I certainly don’t have all the answers but I wanted to share my tips on what is working for us. I would love you to share your tips too, so please add them as a comment.
♥ Love bomb. Just because they are all grown up now, doesn’t mean you should stop hugging and kissing and telling your kids how much you love them. Keep it up, even if they resist. Find sneaky ways to love bomb them, like sending them a message on Facebook! Take them on one-on-one dates to the movies or out for dinner. Look for anyway you can think of to make them feel loved, always.
♥ Talk. Keep the lines of communication open and make the time to talk regularly. Always have dinner together at the table where everyone can chat about their day. For more personal chats, I find going for a walk with my kids really useful. They are more likely to open up when it’s in a relaxed setting, away from distractions and not face to face in ‘interrogation mode’.
♥ Establish boundaries. I have a fairly relaxed style of parenting – I let my kids pretty much do what they want, within reason. There are certain things I won’t tolerate though. Rudeness, disrespect, hurting each other, etc. Make some firm boundaries, let the kids know what they are and have consequences for stepping over the boundaries.
♥ Choose your battles. Best bit of parenting advice, EVER! So what if what they are wearing looks weird (to us!) or they want a wacky hairstyle? These are the small things. Save your energy and angst for the big things that really matter – their safety and wellbeing.
♥ Respect their privacy. Give them some space and respect their right to privacy.
♥ Make your home a safe haven. Teenage years can be tough – negotiating school, friendships, work and romance! Making your home a relaxed, loving environment where they can de-stress. It keeps them close to you and they will come to you for help, advice and validation, rather than looking elsewhere for these things. Keep the nagging to a minimum and the love bombing and fun a priority.
♥ Feed them good, nourishing food and teach them how to cook it. This is so, so important! Fill your pantry with good, healthy food so they always have something good to snack on. I also have taught both kids how to cook as it’s such an important life skill. Get them involved in the weekly menu plan and ask them to cook one night a week for the family. I find appetite is so variable at this age, so I just relax about food and let them choose what and when they eat to some extent. As long as there is good food available, they will be fine. I always try to have healthy snacks with lots of protein for growing bodies ready for them (like bliss balls). Don’t be too hung up on a bit of junk food that they might choose to buy with their own money. Let them explore and make choices.
♥ Encourage activity. So many studies show that sport and exercise is vital for growing bodies and good mental health. Get the kids involved in sport or just going for a familywalk or bike ride.
♥ Use technology with respect. Establish boundaries around the use of technology. We like no phones or gadgets in bed at night as they interfere with sleep. Talk to teens about being safe online. Have rules about appropriate use of phones ie not at the dinner table! Find out some more tips about limiting screen time.
♥ Acne. Please refer to my blog, Natural Acne Remedies for help with acne. Don’t nag kids about it or make them feel bad, give some gentle guidance and help.
♥ Coping skills. I really think this needs to be taught in schools! Coping safely and effectively with emotions and stress is so important. Teach them things like yoga, meditation, relaxation exercises, essential oils and EFT to handle this crazy time.
♥ Give responsibility. Teenagers should contribute to the smooth running of the household. Work out some chores you would like them to do. Make them responsible for the cleanliness of their own spaces. Gradually give them more and more responsibility for things like their lunches, laundry and transport. They don’t learn life skills if you keep doing everything for them.
♥ Get support. There is so much support out there. Here are some of my favourite resources that I use:
The Kids are All Right website. A fabulous Aussie website with forums and blog articles. Ask questions, find information, feel better!
Scarleteen website. This is a sex education website presented in a teen friendly way.
Flower essences are a fantastic emotional support (for you and your teens). I recommend Megan at The Simplest Remedy.
I know all kids and all situations are different, but I hope some of these tips are useful for you. We seem to just struggle through the best we can and so far it’s working out okay. I would love you to leave a comment and talk about what is working for you. The more information we can share, the better.
Do the best you can. Breathe. Persist. Love.