Raising resilient teenagers

Webster's dictionary defines resilience as "an ability to recover from or adjust easily to misfortune or change". Teenagers learn to understand the depths of their resourcefulness and resilience through adverse conditions such as failure, disappointment, loneliness, grief and sadness. Our job as a parent is to let them have these experiences and not try to rescue them from their pain and discomfort.

The Search Institute, a non profit organisation in the US, has named forty developmental assets that are the building blocks for healthy development. Click here to see the full list of assets. Some of the assets include:

• commitment to learning
• caring
• integrity
• responsibility
• planning & decision making
• sense of purpose
• positive family communication
• service to others
• positive peer influence

The greater the number of assets a child has, the more likely that child will survive hardship and develop into responsible young adults portraying confidence, courage and compassion.

Developmental psychologists have shown that children need to experience their world first hand to grow intellectually, socially and emotionally. We need to provide experiences that are progressively more challenging. The healthiest children come from families with adults who are balanced in their concerns, who are aware of their children's needs and also model for them how to have a life of one's own with ups and downs, risks and pleasures, challenges and failures.

At a recent presentation by Professor Parker from the Black Dog Institute on Adolescent Depression he revealed that parental over protection or control creates an environmental stress for the teenager that may lead to depression. Professor Parker indicated that as parents, one of the best things we could do was to allow them to make mistakes, along with strategies to reduce their materialistic preoccupation and to earn their needs, not merely receive them by request.

5 Sure-fire Strategies To Develop Resilience in Your Teen

1. Stop and Listen!
Allow your teen to speak their mind and acknowledge the reality they are experiencing.

2. Ask don't Tell!
Ask how they can solve this problem, resist the urge to tell them how to fix it and allow them to come to their own decision.

3. Be Clear with Boundaries!
Set limits and provide supervision. As they show responsibility allow room for negotiation of boundaries.

4. Value!
Love them for the unique person they are and tell them the qualities you admire in them.

5. Be Present & Optimistic!
This respects their growing independence in a nurturing way.

A Call to Action
Rescue or Support; which do you choose?
Decide today to give up rescuing your teen in order for them to grow to become responsible, caring, compassionate young adults. Try something new - start small. Think of one way that you can offer your teen a little more responsibility, e.g.

• let them get themselves up in the morning
• let them make their own lunch
• extend their curfew by 30 minutes if they have kept to it religiously
• let them go to that concert after all, but arrange a time and place for pick up

Author's Bio: 

Tracy Tresidder M.Ed, ACC is a professional parent and teen coach. Parents - learn how to assist your children to build lives of confidence, courage and compassion. Discover the seven simple steps to create a mutually loving and respectful relationship with your teenager. Go to www.coaching4teenagers.com.au to see the programs that are available now. Tracy is also the lead instructor for the Academy for Family Coach Training in Australasia where you can train to become a certified parent and teen coach. The 10 month Advanced Coaching Course, held in Australia on an annual basis, is the only ICF accredited Family Coach Training Course in the world to offer CCE certification. Visit the website for more course details. Family Coach Training