Raising Tomorrow’s Leaders: Tips for Parenting Today’s Teenagers

In case you haven’t noticed yet, today’s teenagers are kind of amazing. They are passionate, focused, inclusive and believe in unity.  Combine these qualities with their ability to utilize technology to make their voices heard and it is quickly becoming clear we are witnessing an emerging generation of compassionate leaders.

Somehow, their persistence, resourcefulness and resilience has developed both in spite and as a result of the traumatic events their generation has endured. This includes mass shootings, a pandemic and the largest civil rights movement in history… just to name a few. It goes without saying that our teens are pretty awesome, but they still need our support and guidance.

My name is Dr. Samantha Brustad, licensed psychologist,  teen therapist and owner of Teletherapy-Solutions.com.  I am often asked how can we help to ensure our teens’ ability to navigate the difficult world they are entering? How can we help them to build their resilience and guide them to make healthy choices? Here are 3 tips to help parents promote the hope, health, and resilience needed for our teens to become mature and strong leaders of tomorrow:

1.     Listen

More than anything, your teen wants to feel heard and respected. When you talk to your teenager, listen first and seek to understand before talking. It’s normal and healthy for your teen to disagree with your views as they begin to be curious about their own opinions. Show respect for their point of view, even if you disagree.

2.     Promote Healthy Sleeping Patterns

As a licensed psychologist, I talk about sleep every, single, day! Sleep influences our brains in so many ways, impacting our ability to think clearly, focus, mood, ability to regulate feelings… and much, much more.   Considering teenagers’ brains are undergoing huge changes in their frontal lobes, it comes as no surprise that teens need a whole lot of sleep!

Educate your teens about their need for sleep and encourage them to become curious about how they can feel well rested. Help them make connections between their sleep cycles and their mood / focus. Empower them to use this self-awareness to improve their mental state so they can feel their best!

Therapist Trick : Socratic Questioning
Picture this: Timmy complains that he didn’t score any goals at his soccer game and was taken out after playing poorly. You, as his parent know that it is because he stayed up late playing video games. But you may also know from experience that if you point this out, he will react defensively…. As a therapist, it’s my job to help my clients develop understanding rather than tell them the answer & I believe parents have a similar role with their teens… Instead, use open ended and nonjudgmental questioning to help Timmy make the connection between lack of sleep and poor performance, so he can feel empowered to help himself rather than embarrassed or ashamed for making a mistake.

3.     Support & Admire

Tell your child directly and regularly how much you believe in them. This helps them to build resilience. It communicates that you know they can overcome challenges, that you have faith in them, and that you fully support them.

Show genuine interest in your teen’s interests.  Ask them for advice and their opinions using open-ended questions that start with, “What do you think about….?” Doing so communicates you believe they have good ideas that are worth listening to, and that their opinions and beliefs matter to you and have value.

For more personalized help with parenting, considering seeking professional support from one of our licensed therapists at Teletherapy-Solutions.com .  We are here to help!