The teen years can be a whirlwind of changes, emotions, and growth! Not only the physical changes to the teen body, but the pressure that teens may feel from their peers to engage in risk-taking behaviors like smoking, early sexual experimentation, and alcohol or drugs. Teens wanting to “fit in” and who don’t have the refusal skills to use in high-pressure situations may feel very conflicted.
As teens age, they may engage in more social opportunities, and teens are likely influenced by individuals other than their parents. Neighborhood friends, school peers, and sports teammates all can influence how a teen responds in any given situation. Although parents have communicated boundaries, family values, and expectations for behavior, the pressure to belong and be accepted by others can impact the decisions that teens will ultimately make.
Decision-making is such a critical life skill for all, and for the teen whose brain is not fully developed until later adolescence, making the very best decision in any given situation may be impacted by emotions, peer pressure, temperament and so very much more. Parents can do the following things to support their teen as they navigate the teen years:
- Intentionally listen to your family members
- Be consistent when dealing with misbehavior
- Involve family members, when reasonable, in developing rules and consequences for behavior
- Encourage family members to learn new skills (4-H, Scouts, Youth Group, FFA, etc)
- Check in with family members to encourage reflection on successes, setbacks and growth
- Provide an environment in which kids can try new things and challenge themselves safely
- Help kids set personal goals that align with their values