During this time of rapid brain development in your adolescent, one important lesson to teach them is to stand firm.
When they were a child, their convictions were likely your convictions. If there were troubled waters out there, they knew you would calm them and make it all okay. Now that they are adolescents, they must learn to calm the waters by having their own convictions and sticking to them.
It seems that adolescents are nearly drowning in troubled waters every single day. Much of the turmoil they have created, but it still feels scary to them when life is difficult and they are not sure how to navigate through it. It is time to give them tools to fix their problems themselves without you intervening. You can become a bridge over the troubled waters to guide them and not to jump in the troubled waters with them.
Here are two guiding thoughts you can teach them.
- Teach them that they might not have control over every situation, but they can always have control over their response. Part of maturing into a young adult is getting control over their emotions. This is not going to happen in one big talk with them. Little talks scattered throughout the days and weeks seems to have the greatest impact during the adolescent years. There are certainly enough opportunities in the media and everyday life to use as a starting point for these little talks.
- In most situations, it is best to walk away and give yourself time to clear your emotions so you can make a better decision. Walking away prevents you from saying something that you cannot take back and might regret later.
These lessons are best understood with real-life personal examples of how you could have handled a situation better. As they get older, sharing your life with them helps build a more mature relationship. It will also help them to be more open with you when they make a bad choice.
Being a bridge over the troubled waters is just that, a bridge. You are not trying to quiet the waters but be there as a support when they crash through the waves and their raft tips over.