Join our bloggers as they share their experiences on the challenges and joys of helping children succeed in school.
Adolescence is a difficult time of life. I frequently hear my students complain about their family, their parents, and life in general. Many adolescents feel that their parents do not love them. From my perspective, many of them have a great life, and there really isn’t anything to be upset about. I know for sure that their parents care tremendously about them. But the truth is that it doesn’t matter what I think—it’s how they feel that matters. They are not happy. But parents may be able to help.
Some parents give their teens things like a new computer or electronic gadgets to cheer them up. Or they give them extra money to spend however they want. This can bring temporary “happiness” and immediate attention from friends. But it doesn’t take long for that happiness to wear off.
What teens really need is a sense of purpose in life. They need to know that they are important, loved, and respected by their friends and family. They should participate in family business that affects them such as preparing meals, planning events, maintaining the home, or selecting what to buy. They feel like you respect them when you include them this way. They know that their purpose is to be a valued member of the family who can help make meaningful.
Teens need to feel empathy for others who are less fortunate. In general, adolescents are pretty much focused on themselves. This is natural and not something parents need to worry about. But parents can help them to see that there are others in the world, and that many people do not have their basic needs met. The best way for them to learn this is to witness their parents helping others by giving their time, energy, and money. Involving your teen in these activities can help them to focus on others, which will lead to feelings of self-worth and satisfaction.
Finally, teens need to understand that luck does not determine what happens to them—they need to know that hard work makes the difference. I have personally witnessed this in my classroom many, many times. It is the student who works the hardest who experiences the most success. Once they understand this concept, they feel a sense of control, which is extremely important for everyone—not just teens.
If you have a son or daughter who is feeling down about life, start off by giving them a hug and telling them how much you love them. Have a conversation to find out what is happening in their life. Most of the time, the feelings of despair are only temporary. Sometimes, though, they do not go away. In these cases, your child may be depressed and need professional help to regain a sense of hope for the future. Life can be tough for adolescents, but knowing that you are there for them makes it a lot easier.