Address problems and concerns. Build
trust gradually so your teen will feel safe talking with you about sensitive
subjects. When you want to talk with your teen about problems or concerns,
schedule a "date" in a private and quiet place. Knowing when and how to
interfere in a teen's life is a major ongoing challenge of parenthood. Parents
walk a fine line between respecting a teen's need for independence and privacy
and making sure that teens do not make mistakes that have lifelong
Understand the confusion about sexual orientation and gender identity. Sexuality is a core aspect of identity. Hormones, cultural and peer pressures, and fear of being
different can cause many teens to question themselves in many areas, including
sexual orientation. It is normal during the teen years to have same-sex
"crushes." Consider mentioning to your teen that having such an attraction does
not mean that these feelings will last. But it is helpful to
acknowledge that in some cases, these feelings grow stronger over time rather
Encourage community service. Both your teen and
community members are helped when your teen volunteers. Your teen gets the
chance to explore how he or she connects with others. While helping peers,
adults, and other people, your teen can gain new skills and new ways of looking
at things. He or she can also develop and express personal values and explore
career options. Your teen can benefit most by thinking back on the service
experience and figuring out what he or she learned from it.
your child build a strong sense of self-worth to help him or her act
responsibly, cooperate well with others, and have the confidence to try new
Encourage mature ways of thinking.
Involve your teen in setting household rules and schedules. Talk about current
issues together, whether it be school projects or world affairs. Listen to your
teen's opinions and thoughts. Brainstorm different ways to solve problems, and
discuss their possible outcomes. Stress that these years provide many
opportunities to reinvent and improve themselves.
goal-oriented instead of style-oriented. Your teen may not complete a task the
way you would. This is okay. What is important is that the task gets done. Let
your teen decide how to complete work, and always assume that he or she wants
to do a good job.
Continue to enjoy music, art, reading, and creative writing with
your teen. For example, encourage your teen to listen to a variety of music,
play a musical instrument, draw, or write a story. These types of activities
can help teens learn to think and express themselves in new ways. Teens may
discover a new or stronger interest, which may help their self-esteem. Remind
your teen that he or she doesn't need to be an expert. Simply learning about
and experimenting with art can help your teen think in more abstract ways and
pull different concepts together.
Encourage daily exercise. Vigorous
exercise, such as running, biking, or playing soccer or basketball, helps your
teen to stay lean and to have a healthy heart.1
Vigorous exercise also helps your teen feel good. If your child is not used to
exercise, be careful about expecting too much too soon. Overdoing it at first
can make your teen feel tired or discouraged or can even cause injury. Help
your teen to build up an exercise routine slowly. For example, plan a short
daily walk to start. This approach can help your teen gain confidence and make
him or her more likely to keep exercising. For more information on exercise,
see the topics:
Prevent teen violence by being a good
role model. It's important to model and talk to your child about healthy relationships, because dating abuse is common among teens. For example, talk calmly during a disagreement with someone else.
Help your teen come up with ways to defuse potentially violent situations, such
as making a joke or acknowledging another person's point of view. Praise him or
her for avoiding a confrontation. You might say "I'm proud of you for staying
calm." Also, to help your child limit exposure to violence, closely supervise the websites and computer games that he or she uses.
For more information on teen violence, see the topics
Bullying, Domestic Abuse, and/or Anger, Hostility, and Violent Behavior.
Reduce the risk of teen suicide and
recognize the warning signs. If your teen shows signs
depression, such as withdrawing from others and being
sad much of the time, try to get him or her to talk about it. Call your doctor
if your teen ever mentions suicide or if you are concerned for his or her