They want to try new activities. They are anxious to meet new friends. They are excited about taking advantage of everything life has to offer.
Exploration can be a good thing. It can motivate a teen to try a new sport, a new hairdo or learn a new skill. It can encourage one teen to repaint her room and another to listen to a new type of music.
But exploration that isn’t channeled can lead teens into danger. It can lead teens to try drugs, alcohol or sex. It can also make a gang look attractive.
How can you direct your teen’s desire for exploration in positive ways? Here are some suggestions you can use right at home:
• Encourage exploration in safe situations. This is a great time to take a class just because it sounds interesting . . . or to try a new sport because it looks fun . . . or to try a new hairstyle or color.
• See how you can support your teen’s desire to try new things. He may not want to sign up for a yearlong photography course until he’s taken a six-week class at the rec center.
• Remind your teen that some explorations lead to commitments. If he makes the team, he’s going to have a responsibility to his teammates to finish out the season. If he takes the class, he has to finish it. That’s part of the lesson to be learned from any new experience.
• Keep your teen busy. Empty hours can lead to unhealthy explorations. It’s worth an hour of brainstorming about interesting things to do.
Copyright © Parent Institute