Your overriding goal as a parent is to ensure your child has all the knowledge and skills they need to navigate life’s challenges successfully. Raising and empowering teens is neither a trial-and-error affair nor a walk in the park. It’s an intentional undertaking that seeks to raise a responsible generation that can survive and thrive under all conditions. Below are 15 strategies parents can employ to empower their teenagers. They include providing support, guidance, and personal growth and development opportunities.
1. Take Care of Their Teeth
Great oral hygiene is vital to one’s overall health. One of your goals, as a parent, must be to ensure your teen’s teeth are healthy. This involves regularly taking them to the dentist to help them maintain good oral health. They should visit a dentist as regularly as they need specific dental treatment. For example, if your teen needs braces, you may consider using Invisalign as a discreet alternative to traditional braces. Invisalign is a transparent aligner system that gradually moves teeth into the correct position without metal wires and brackets. By taking care of your teen’s teeth, you are promoting good health and boosting their self-esteem.
2. Teach Them to Drive
Most teenagers consider driving to be a rite of passage. As a parent, you can help your teenagers learn this skill by teaching them to drive themselves or enrolling them in a driving school. Before getting behind the wheel, ensure they can drive competently and have auto insurance coverage. This is a great way of empowering teens.
3. Help Them Get Organized
One of the greatest life skills anyone can have is being organized. Your teens aren’t an exception, as this skill helps them to become more productive and achieve their life goals. Consider investing in a garage storage system to make your teen more organized. Such a system does several things: first, it creates extra space in their room, and second, it helps your teen keep their stuff orderly. It can also inculcate in them the value of organization, which will, in turn, assist them in developing good habits they can adopt for the rest of their lives.
4. Redecorate Their Room
Your teen’s room is their sanctuary, and it’s essential that they feel comfortable and happy in it. Redecorating is an excellent way to help them express their individuality and creativity. Consider hiring a professional decorator to help with interior design or involve your teen in decision-making. Painting the walls is an easy and affordable way to add color and personality to the room. Involving your teen in the redecorating process empowers them to own their space.
5. Encourage Them to Spend Time Outdoors
There are many advantages to spending time outdoors. When outdoors, teens engage in multiple physical activities that reduce stress and enhance their mental health. You can encourage your teenager to spend more time outdoors by planting trees or having a swimming pool installation in your backyard. Nothing will excite your teens and get them up and about more than a swimming pool right at home. On the other hand, besides providing shade, trees create a relaxing, peaceful atmosphere for your teens to enjoy. You promote a healthy and active lifestyle by encouraging your teen to spend time outdoors.
6. Upgrade Their Wardrobe
Fashion is essential to self-expression. Upgrading your teen’s wardrobe can help them feel more confident and comfortable in their skin. Teaching your teen how to buy second hand clothes is a great way to save money and reduce waste. You can take your teen to thrift stores or consignment shops to find unique and affordable pieces. Additionally, consider enrolling them in a fashion course or workshop to help them develop their sense of style.
7. Sign Them Up for Therapy
Mental health is just as important as physical health, and as a parent, it’s your responsibility to ensure your teen receives the necessary support and care. Let’s say your teen has a mental health issue, such as anxiety or depression, that requires professional help. Taking them to a therapist helps them navigate these intricate emotions and healthily resolve the underlying issues. Therapists create a non-judgmental, safe space where teenagers can express themselves without reservations. They help them learn to cope and deal with challenging situations.
It doesn’t mean something is wrong with your teenager just because you’ve linked them with a therapist. It takes strength to recognize they need help and then seek it out. Signing up your teen for therapy empowers and helps them take control of their lives, including their well-being and mental health.
8. Help Them Set Boundaries
As teens grow, they naturally start to explore their independence, and it’s essential to help them do so safely and healthily. Part of this involves helping them learn to set boundaries. Teens who know how to establish and maintain boundaries are likelier to have healthier relationships, higher self-esteem, and better mental health.
One way to help teens learn about boundaries is by modeling healthy boundary-setting behaviors. Let your teen see you say ‘no’ when you need to, and explain why you’re saying no. Encourage them to do the same in similar situations and set and respect boundaries. You can also teach your teen about boundaries by discussing and explaining what constitutes healthy boundaries. Stress the importance of boundaries in asserting what they can and can’t commit to. Let them know that people who set and enforce boundaries usually earn the respect of their peers.
An example of boundary-setting is when a teen decides they won’t share sensitive, personal information with strangers or someone they barely know or allow them to touch them inappropriately. Guide your teen to identify their boundaries and demonstrate how to communicate with others effectively. Teach them how to use the ‘I’ statements, such as ‘I don’t feel comfortable when you do that’. This is a better approach than using accusatory or blame language, as it teaches them to be assertive when communicating their boundaries.
9. Encourage Critical Thinking
It’s becoming increasingly important for young people to think critically about the deluge of information they come across daily. Encourage them to query every bit of information they come across instead of gobbling it up as indisputable truth. Teach them how to develop critical thinking skills so they can avoid propaganda and misinformation, make more informed decisions, and become self-reliant and independent.
One way of fostering critical thinking and empowering teens is by asking them open-ended questions. Before they respond to a topic, ask them to think about it deeply. For instance, rather than ask, ‘Did you like the movie?’ ask them, ‘What did you think about the themes in the movie?’ This interrogative approach helps them think deeply and weigh perspectives they wouldn’t have considered.
You can also encourage critical thinking by presenting your teen with various perspectives and viewpoints. Get them to watch documentaries on other topics, read articles and books from different sources, and hold discussions with people with contrasting experiences and opinions.
Finally, empowering teens demands you expose and help them develop their research skills. This is a great way to assess information effectively. Teach them how to use search engines, assess credible sources, and fact-check information before accepting it as accurate.
10. Set a Positive Example
Whether you know it or not, as a parent, you’re the most powerful influence on your child’s behavior. Your teen will learn from what you do more than what you say. If you want your teens to adopt positive behaviors, let them see you behaving that way. Empowering teens has more to do with modeling than instructing. Model the behavior or outcome you want to see in your children. This doesn’t have to be an inscrutable task. It could be as easy as responding with a ‘thank you’ or saying ‘please’ or ‘kindly’ before making a request. Teach them that respecting others and being nice doesn’t hurt.
You can model a positive example for your teen, for instance, by offering to help in your community. This act demonstrates to your child the importance of giving back to the community by volunteering to serve. You can also model healthy habits such as regular exercise, sleeping and waking up on time, and eating a balanced diet. As teens emulate these habits, their mental and physical health is impacted.
11. Encourage Independence
As children grow, one of their innate desires is to become more independent. Let’s face it; whether we like it or not, our teens will leave the nest, perhaps sooner than we wish. However, one way of empowering teens is to encourage them to be independent. You can do this by allowing them to make decisions for themselves. You could, for instance, allow them to decide what to wear or eat for dinner.
You can also encourage them to be independent by assigning them more responsibilities, such as letting them open a bank account or looking for a part-time job. Such responsibilities help them develop critical life skills, such as time management and budgeting, which will be useful later in life.
As you allow your teens to become more independent, remember that this doesn’t mean you should abandon them. Let them know you’re available to offer guidance and support whenever they need it.
12. Celebrate Achievements
Teens often face tremendous pressure to succeed academically, socially, and in extracurricular activities. While parents need to support their teens in these areas, it’s also important to celebrate their achievements. When they achieve a goal or milestone, such as getting good grades or winning a tournament, acknowledge and celebrate their success.
A great way of boosting a teen’s confidence and self-esteem is by celebrating their achievements and milestones, no matter how small. Doing this demonstrates to them that dedication and hard work are appreciated. There are many ways of empowering teens in this area. You could, for instance, buy them a small gift or take them out for a special dinner.
Nevertheless, resist the temptation to apply too much emphasis on achievements. Life’s about more than achievements. Like everyone else, teens encounter failures and setbacks, and as a parent, you need to offer them undivided support during turbulent times. Encourage them to learn from their failures as much as from their successes and never to stop trying.
13. Encourage Creative Expression
Another great way of empowering teens is to encourage them to express themselves creatively. When you do this, you not only provide them with an outlet for expressing their ideas and emotions, but you also help them hone their artistic skills. Forms of creative expression include acting, painting, playing music, writing, or drawing. Encourage your teens to expend their boundless energies and creativity towards a form of creative expression they’re most passionate about.
Recognizing and celebrating your teen’s creative efforts is also important. For instance, whenever they show you a drawing, show a keen interest in it and ask what inspired them to draw it. Display their artwork in a prominent place in your home to show your support and encourage them to continue creating.
14. Teach Them Financial Literacy
Financial literacy is an important life skill rarely taught in grade school. By teaching your teens about money management, you can empower them to make intelligent financial decisions and avoid the common pitfalls of debt. Start by teaching them the basics of investing, saving, and budgeting. Encourage them to open a bank account so they can start managing their finances. One important lesson they must learn is the importance of a good credit score and the pitfalls of getting into debt.
15. Encourage Healthy Relationships
Empowering teens involves encouraging them to engage in healthy relationships. By teaching them how to build and maintain healthy relationships, you empower them to form strong connections with others and navigate tricky social situations.
Start by modeling healthy relationships in your own life. Show them how to communicate openly and honestly, respect boundaries, and resolve conflicts healthily.
Empowering teens is a noble duty that requires a multifaceted approach. It demands that parents invest resources, energy, and time in addressing the needs of their children. This involves taking care of their mental and physical health and providing a supportive and safe environment where they can navigate the challenges of adolescence as they transition into adulthood.