“I hear what you mean.” “I can feel what you are thinking.” Being able to empathise with other people and understand their points of view is an important life skill. Teenagers are able to indulge in complex reasoning and thought processes; don’t under-estimate their abilities. Demonstrate how to see the situation from someone else’s side of the wall.
Involve your teenager in family discussions where decisions are being made. Talk about where you will spend your next holiday, explore alternatives and possibilities together. Your teenager will then hear the feelings and attitudes or other people and learn the need to compromise and negotiate. Everyone needs to learn to listen to others and be able to express their own opinion clearly and positively.
Positive attitudes in your teenager will help him to feel better about himself and his world. Help your teen to develop a positive and healthy attitude towards himself and those around him. You can do this by being optimistic yourself. Avoid making negative or pessimistic comments. Surely there must be something good in most situations? Don’t openly criticize yourself or other people. It sounds judgemental and negative. Constant criticism of everything becomes a bad habit. Try to be cheerful. You probably have a lot for which to be thankful!
Avoid speaking negatively about your teen’s school or teachers when she is around. Your child is more likely to succeed and be happy at school if she thinks well of the place of learning you chose for her. Deal with genuine school-related concerns privately, without running down the school or the teachers. Your child needs to believe in the good intentions and abilities of her teachers in order to perform at her academic best. Disrespect does not lead to success.
Help your teen to have positive attitudes towards her body and to respect it by embracing a healthy lifestyle. Never make hurtful comments about her body, even if she does have a bit of “puppy-fat” and you think that it is cute. Rather encourage a sustainable eating plan by following it yourself. By doing this you will be healthier and you will have promoted good habits and positive ideas about body image. Look for something to praise or admire, rather than something to criticize.
Show that you value learning and education by keeping up with current events, reading novels and buying the newspapers. At least on a Sunday. Discuss news items with your child in order to show that you value her opinions. It may also give you the opportunity to share some of your positive values about life or political situations around the world.
Be supportive if your teen’s plans don’t come to fruition. He wasn’t chosen to be the class-leader or the team captain. He feels disappointed and rejected. Discuss his feelings with him in a positive way, don’t simply dismiss them or make light of them.
Your teenage daughter may have had a big fight with her best friend. Commiserate, be encouraging and discuss her feelings with her. They are important.
Look for something positive in these difficult situations. Give him or her your time, attention and guidance. “How could we have done things differently?” could be a good starting point. Examine the situation from many perspectives and explore how it could have been different and what is positive about the present situation. Avoid blaming your teen or the third party. Rather help him to find a positive solution that will assist him in the future.
Show your teen that it is healthy and positive to apologise when in the wrong. Set this example for him. Nobody is always right. Admitting one’s faults and apologizing is helpful and mature behaviour. Offering a sincere apology, whilst acknowledging one’s wrong, liberates one from guilt and shows that one is able to understand and empathise with other people. It shows that we are not arrogant or proud. Humility and being sorry for mistakes are positive emotions to encourage.
Teach your teen to have positive attitudes towards other people in society. Tolerance, respect, charity and kindness are important to learn. Demonstrate, from the time your child is little, that all people have feelings and must be treated decently. Never make bad remarks about other groups of people. Only make positive and encouraging comments about individuals. You will thereby help your teenager to become a respectful and responsible member of society in the future.
By: Mrs Tracy Freemantle (Teacher at Pinnacle College Kyalami)